GE: On Monday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for an enlargement of the European Union to ultimately include Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. His proposition also stated that a smooth transition to majority voting was the first step to expanding the bloc.
Amid mounting pressure from the fatal ramifications of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, Scholz urged the EU member countries to “close ranks, resolve old conflicts and find new solutions”. Once again, he echoed Germany’s solidarity with the Ukrainian cause and maintained that it would keep up its support for Kyiv “for as long as it takes”.
In a speech entitled, “Europe is our Future” delivered at Charles University in Prague, he said, “we must bring the clout of our united Europe much more strongly to bear … Europe is our future. And that future is in our hands.”
Scholz outlined the necessity and responsibility of member EU states to deliver on “the promise of peace” by backing Ukraine at its time of crisis.
Scholz announced that the inclusion of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and other countries of the Western Balkans would be instrumental in expanding the growth of the bloc. He proposed that majority voting should be used initially in areas like sanctions and human rights.
However, “in this expanded Union, the differences between the member states will grow as far as political interests, economic clout and social security systems are concerned“, he said.
“Where unanimity is required today, the risk of an individual country using its veto and preventing all the others from forging ahead increases with each additional member state,” Scholz added, highlighting the significance of a member country’s veto in the larger dimension of political decision-making.
“I have therefore proposed a gradual transition to majority voting in common foreign policy, but also in other areas, such as tax policy, knowing full well that this would also have repercussions for Germany,” he said.
Bearing in mind the EU’s struggle with soaring energy prices, Scholz proposed that the EU member states pool resources and foster the growth of advanced technologies in Europe to be used around the world.
“On electricity, I’m thinking of the creation of the grid and storage infrastructure for a real internal energy market which supplies Europe with hydropower from the north, wind from the coasts and solar energy from the south reliably, both in summer and in winter,” Scholz said.
He also pressed for a collective “European hydrogen network” that would secure connection between producers and consumers, “triggering a European electrolysis boom”.
Scholz also assured that Germany will send defensive armament to Kyiv in the upcoming weeks.
Moreover, Germany will secure the Ukrainian war effort by sending advanced air defence, radar systems or drones. It could assume special responsibility in terms of building up Ukraine’s artillery and air defence capacities, Scholz said.
The Chancellor assured that Germany would take the lead in the smooth supply of state-of-the-art military equipment. He noted that greater planning and a strong objective were more important than fancy guns.
He focused on greater coordination among EU states on military matters, calling for regular meetings of defence ministers in Brussels, and a “jointly developed air-defence system.”