It was proposed by the German Defence Minister that EU foreign policy decisions must be taken by a majority and not by consensus.

We are thinking about perhaps moving towards a majority vote in diplomacy and foreign affairs so that we can respond rapidly to crises and speak with one voice, one European voice”, von der Leyen said at a London School of Economics German Symposium event on Wednesday (February 28 th).

“And so you cannot be blocked by the one country who doesn’t want you to utter anything in the direction (that) Europe wants to speak”, she added.

Decisions under CFSP are almost exclusively taken by unanimity. Article 24 of the TEU clearly states that – “The common foreign and security policy is subject to specific rules and procedures. It shall be defined and implemented by the European Council and the Council acting unanimously, except where the Treaties provide otherwise”.

The Treaty contains derogations about voting on minor actions in the field of CFSP, but even then they can be vetoed by any of the 28 EU Member States on the basis of “vital for national policy interests”.

The German minister’s proposal to remove this rule comes at a time of deeper EU military integration aimed at creating a joint rapid-reaction forces.

Moreover, there is also a desire for further integration within the EU, especially in the context of the UK’s decision to leave the bloc.

With the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, EU foreign and security policy has been strengthened by setting up the position of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as the establishment of the European External Action Service, which is essentially the EU’s diplomatic corps.

The role of the External Action Service is to support the work of the High Representative. It shall perform the functions of a diplomatic service of the EU. Through a network of over 139 delegations and services worldwide, European values and interests are promoted and protected.

Most decisions in the field of foreign and security policy require the consent of all EU countries.