The European Council at GrunnMUN 2019
In Iustitia Discordia: Dealing with Problematic Member States
The European Union of today faces challenges from all directions: from influxes of refugees, via the question of what to do when a member state decides to quit the union, to its difficult relationship with Russia.
Yet none of these issues seem quite as salient as the potential breakdown of democracy and the rule of law in some of its member states such as Poland and Hungary. The Union has always had great enforcement power over those states which wish to accede to it, yet it has been remarkably powerless against breaches of European Law by Member States, having only the option to pursue infringement procedures, and if need be suspend voting rights in the European Council under Article 7 TEU. However, because of unanimity conditions in the European Council, multiple states in breach of treaty value are able to veto any repercussions directed at each other. The concept of illiberal democracy raises questions about the right of member states to shape their own vision of accountable institutions. Yet the EU has always mainly concerned itself with upholding free market conditions, comfortable in the thought that the democratic foundations of it’s states were a fait-accompli.
These recent developments have brought to light many weaknesses in the EU’s current make-up: If two or more states within the EU are able to cooperate in voting procedures, they can effectively sidestep any sort of punishment through their use of the European Council’s veto right. To that end, we must ask ourselves if the situation should change, and how? It is certain that the EU needs more enforcement power over its member states, including rule of law mechanisms,but this power needs to be balanced against every Member States’ sovereignty.
It will thus be the task of the delegates of GrunnMUN 2018’s European Council to discuss reform of enforcement mechanisms at the European level, and to debate the righteousness of intervention in the democratic affairs of states which are in breach of treaty values.
The European Council is the highest authoritative organ of the European Union. It is composed of the leaders of the 28 Member States, along with the President of the European Commission, and is chaired by the president of the European Council. It gathers the executive power of the member states and thus has a great influence in high-profile policy areas over which the more supranational institutions of the EU have less authority, like foreign policy. The meetings of the European Council, still commonly referred to as EU summits, take place at least twice every six months; usually in the Europa building in Brussels. Unlike other organs of the EU and UN, the European Council requires unanimity on the part of its members for every decision. In effect, each delegate to this council has a Veto Right, which forces negotiations to take place in a more cooperative and consensus-searching manner.
Normally, the European Council focuses only on the Union’s broad strategy and goals: Its purpose is to identify problems and challenges faced by the EU and propose strategic approaches to solving them. At GrunnMUN 2019, the European Council will still set the overall direction of the EU on a particular problem but, for the sake of a broader and more substantive understanding of the issue, also allow for detailed solutions to them in the form of resolutions, which would normally be the role of the commission. Thus, the ordinary legislative procedure is circumvented and you will have both legislative power and a final say on which laws get enacted.
For you, this means that your discussions and proposals will have a real effect on the EU and its Member States as a whole: not only will you get to decide what the broad strategy of problem resolution, you will also get the opportunity to enact and enforce important and detailed changes to the way the EU works.