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The European Union's Inability To Reach A Concensus On The Construction And Deployment Of Military Force

3823 words - 16 pages

Since the Kosovo conflict brought home to European countries how militarily dependent on the US they are and will remain unless big changes are made, the European Union began to take serious steps toward creating a credible unified military force. However, the proposed military force may face a number of problems which could impede its success in the future as there are constraints placed on the EU that differ from those facing sovereign states. Among them, whether the EU succeed in creating consensus on the construction and deployment of military force is significant in building the European autonomous military capability. If the answer is no, more attention need to be paid to how to ...view middle of the document...

’ When it comes to the decision making, consensus decision-making pays more attention to process than other forms of decision-making since this form of governance not only seeks the agreement of the majority of participants, but also tries to moderate the objections of the minority in order to arrive at the decision that is satisfactory to all the parties involved. In this sense, the common agreement need to be emphasized over differences and substantive decisions reached.
By consensus decision-making, all participants are invited to provide unfiltered input, which often results in a delaying process and tends to blur the lines of accountability. And the so-called Abilene paradox make it clear that consensus probably gives organizations a status quo bias because the more politicized the issue, the less likely it is that the collective will be able to move beyond what has already been agreed upon. These features, to some degree, go against the aim to establish decision-making procedures. Therefore, most executives adopt a majority voting procedure to make decision and a leader authorized to overcome a deadlock.
Nevertheless, consensus governance is more prevalent in the realm of foreign policy, where the need for continuity is greater than that in domestic politics. At the EU level, the decision-making processes of EU foreign and security policies including the construction and deployment of military force require consensus among all 28 Member States. It may make the EU respond relatively slowly to new developments and changed circumstances in global politics unless the Member States can often create consensus.
2. The characteristic of the EU consensus mechanism
As mentioned above, the decision-making processes of EU foreign and security policies within the framework of the CFSP including the construction and deployment of military force require consensus among all 28 Member States, because the CFSP is governed by unanimity. It is not difficult to understand this rule in the view of sovereignty. However, as Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, pointed out in 2007: ‘The unanimity rule, which is supposed to protect the vital interests of each EU member state, has over the years become the source of enduring obstacles…Only majority voting can end the delays of a decision-making process that is incompatible with the kind of quick reactions needed in the area of security policy.’ Originally, the TEU signed in 1992 has allowed limited Qualified Majority Voting for a number of decisions related to implementation of the CFSP decisions, but such use of Qualified Majority Voting must be empowered by a unanimous vote. It thus does not have practical significance and actually remains the rule of unanimity.
To amend the consensus rule at the EU level, there is a ‘constructive abstention’--an attempt that does not block adoption of a decision but allow for states to declare reservations and stand aside. According to the abstention, a dissenting Member...

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