EU Commission President Wants To Drop Unanimity in Foreign Policy Decisions

EU members have been frustrated with Hungary for delaying and blocking some sanctions against Russia

The EU’s European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants the bloc to drop the requirement of having to gain the approval of all 27 of its members on foreign policy decisions.

“In foreign affairs, we really have to move to qualified majority voting,” von der Leyen told reporters on Monday. She made the comments when answering a question about whether or not the EU will change its decision-making process on admitting new members.

The European Commission recently declared its support for Ukraine and Moldova to join the bloc, but it still needs approval from all 27 EU members, which von der Leyen expects the countries to get. If approved, Ukraine and Moldova would need to meet a number of conditions before starting formal membership talks, a process that could take years.

But there are other foreign policy decisions that the EU has had trouble agreeing on, including sanctions on Russia. The bloc struggled to prohibit the import of Russian oil due to objections from Hungary, which was able to get an exemption from the ban that was eventually passed. Hungary has also blocked the EU from sanctioning Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Von der Leyen said she didn’t think the current system of requiring unanimity to reach foreign affairs decisions was “sustainable” but recognized that changing the policy would take time.

Several EU member states are already pushing to increase sanctions on Russia and Belarus and to boost military aid for Kyiv. But according to Reuters, other states, including Germany, are more hesitant to add new sanctions and want to focus on enforcing existing ones.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.