Germany wants to eliminate the right of individual members of the European Union to veto foreign policy statements.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas believes that individual members are wielding too much power over the majority of the 27-nation bloc, and using their stance to block important measures: “We can no longer be held hostage by those who paralyze European foreign policy through their vetoes.
“If you do that, then sooner or later you are risking the cohesion of Europe. I therefore say quite openly: the veto must go — even if that means we too can be outvoted.”
These statements from Maas came just after the German junior minister Miguel Berger directly addressed Hungary on Twitter with frustration over their position on an EU statement on Hong Kong. Hungary blocked a statement that was critical of China’s tightened security laws in Hong Kong. Berger tweeted:
“Hungary again blocked an EU statement on #Hongkong. Three weeks ago it was on Middle East. Common Foreign and Security Policy #CFSP cannot work on the basis of a blocking policy. We need a serious debate on ways to manage dissent, including qualified majority voting,”
Hungary has proven to be an outlier in EU
Hungary has consistently proven to be an outlier in the EU. The country did not support the EU’s recent call for peace between Israel and Palestine, and they did not choose to ratify a trade and development accord between European and African, Pacific, and Caribbean countries.
The Hungarian government has stood behind the veto in a public statement, calling the EU’s sanctions “pointless, presumptuous and harmful.
“The EU has so far issued a number of declarations on China and Hong Kong. None has proven to be so successful that now another one should be issued.”
China has a tumultuous history with the former British colony of Hong Kong. The national security law that is the subject of the dispute between Hungary and Germany refers to a Chinese law in place in Hong Kong that aims to exert its power over the region.
China was given control of Hong Kong by Britain in 1997 under a condition that it allow Hong Kong to exist with some autonomy from China, called the Basic Law. This autonomy includes the right to freedom of speech and assembly as well as independent judiciary.
The introduction of an extradition bill that would allow the extradition of fugitives in Hong Kong to other jurisdictions in China caused mass civil unrest in 2019, including huge movements of protests and demonstrations.
China’s security law in Hong Kong is an attempt to prevent another uprising. Normally Hong Kong’s basic rights are protected from Chinese law, unless they are under Annex III–this is where China is attempting to wedge its security law.