• Thomas Yaw Voets

Why a strategic autonomous EU needs a permanent UNSC seat, and how it might get one

After many debates and statements of principle in recent years, the time for a more structured discussion on the European Union’s future development has arrived. The Conference on the Future of Europe – inspired by an idea first voiced by French President Emmanuel Macron and later announced by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in her inaugural address – provides the perfect backdrop for this. The aim of this Conference, after all, is to debate how the European Union should develop in the future, identify where it is rising to the challenges of current times, and enhance those areas that need reform or strengthening.[1]

One of the areas that clearly needs strengthening is the field of foreign policy. With its emphasis on soft power, preference for legal solutions, and enthusiasm for multilateral diplomacy, the European Union has had trouble adjusting to the increasingly complex and multipolar world ruled by great power politics. In addition, institutionalized constraints (member states decide on common foreign and security policy by unanimity, and run their own national policy in parallel) have severely limited its ability to respond adequately to a deteriorating security environment.[2]

Post-Brexit, the European Union has now also lost the United Kingdom’s global strategic reach, comprehensive military capabilities, nuclear deterrent and its permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.[3] It goes without saying that this has further hindered the Union’s ability to act autonomously and promote its strategic interests and values on the global stage[4] – an aim set forth in the Union’s strategic agenda for 2019-2024: “the EU needs to pursue a strategic course of action and increase its capacity to act autonomously to safeguard its interests, uphold its values and way of life, and help shape the global future”.[5]