Decision-making rules in the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) have been the subject of debates for many years. The unanimity requirement used in CFSP is seen by many as an obstacle to the EU’s ability to respond to world events quickly and effectively, thus affecting Europe’s credibility in its neighbourhood and beyond.
In order to address this issue, the European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker’s leadership formally proposed to move to Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in specific CFSP areas, including sanctions. The current Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, also supports the change.
Voting by unanimity means that any member state can block a foreign policy decision or statement, preventing the bloc to demonstrate its collective reaction to an external development. In September 2020, the delay in agreeing sanctions against Belarusian officials responsible for human rights violations due to the veto of one member state has revived the debate about using QMV in foreign affairs.