As the European Union celebrates its 72nd anniversary on Monday, the war in Ukraine is pushing it to radically transform itself to become a powerful player on the world stage. “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine fundamentally challenges our European peace architecture,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.
The trading bloc of once-warring nations has become a political powerhouse ready to send arms to kyiv and impose unprecedented sanctions on Russia. But this prosperous Union of 450 million inhabitants, which struggles to make its 27 member countries speak with one voice, is not the great world power that it could aspire to be. It is far from the strategic autonomy that French President Emmanuel Macron, who currently chairs the Council of the EU, would like to give it.
The EU therefore needs a “pragmatic federalism” which would see the member states lose their right of veto, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi argued on Tuesday before MEPs. The European Parliament has approved a rewriting of the Treaties and put forward 49 proposals from the Conference on the Future of Europe, a citizen consultation which has just ended. Among these, the idea of qualified majority voting put forward by Emmanuel Macron and Mario Draghi to streamline the decision-making process, as well as increased powers for the European Commission in areas jealously guarded by national governments, such as defence.