- EURACTIV - Nikolaus J. Kurmayer - MAY 5, 2023 -
Chancellor Karl Nehammer told the Austrian parliament that he opposed a more deeply integrated EU, rejecting a German-led push for a move away from unanimity voting, citing European countries’ individual histories.
On Thursday, a nine-country coalition led by German made a push to extend qualified majority voting into foreign and security policy issues as currently, unanimity is required.
Nehammer, who says that the EU “will never fit together in a template system like the United States,” rejected this push from Berlin.
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“Dealing with [disagreement] until 27 are going in the same direction, that is the added value of democracy, diversity and in the last consequence then also unity,” the chancellor stressed.
The bloc’s founders had been aware that “Europe meant diversity,” while the countries “themselves each have a special history, special peculiarities,” he added.
Instead of centralisation in Brussels, Nehammer vowed to fight for “subsidiarity,” an EU term that describes the principle to take action as locally as possible.
The Austrian European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, in charge of the bloc’s budget, criticised the defensive behaviour exhibited by all member states.
“The national representatives in the European football team are very focused on playing defensively,” he said, with a nod to Nehammer. Both politicians are members of the centre-right ÖVP (EPP).
Several leading EU countries have signalled some appetite for treaty reform, with the Germans pushing for a move away from the unanimity principle. However, appetite in Vienna ahead of the 2024 autumn elections appears to be limited.