Maas: EU must not stay foreign policy "veto hostage"

Photo: EPA Heiko Maas

The EU should abolish the right of individual Member States to veto foreign policy measures and the Union could not allow itself to be "held hostage", German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.

"We can't let ourselves be held hostage by the people who hobble European foreign policy with their vetoes," Heiko Maas told a conference of Germany's ambassadors in Berlin. "If you do that then sooner or later you are risking the cohesion of Europe. The veto has to go, even if that means we can be outvoted."

His comments, which came days after a more junior official criticised Hungary by name, reflect growing frustration in Berlin at the way in which Member States can prevent the bloc from acting in matters on which almost all members agree.

Maas' remarks amount to a highly unusual rebuke by Germany of a fellow Member State. Germany is normally very cautious about being seen to throw its weight. Hungary blocked an EU statement in April criticising China's new security law in Hong Kong, undermining the bloc's efforts to confront Beijing's restrictions of freedoms in the former British colony.

Last month, Budapest refused to ratify a new EU trade and development accord with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, and also declined to support an EU call for a ceasefire in violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

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