Draghi fast tracks EU federalism: common defense must go with a unitary foreign policy; get rid of “principle of unanimity”

Strasbourg, 3 May 2022 – “The geopolitical frame is in fast and deep transformation. We have to move; we have to move at the highest speed”, said Italian PM Mario Draghi addressing the EU Parliament in Strasbourg. “We need not just a pragmatic federalism, but a ideal one. If that requires a revision of treaties, let’s embrace this with courage and trust”.

“The construction of a common defense must be accompanied by a unitary foreign policy and effective decision-making processes; we must overcome the principle of unanimity which gives rise to an intergovernmental logic made up of crossed vetoes, and move towards decisions taken by a qualified majority” he said.

“Europe can and must have a central role in fostering dialogue, we must do it first of all because of the geographical position that places us close to this war and therefore at the forefront in addressing all its possible consequences”, said to MEPs while making his point on the war in Ukraine .

“We need to build an effective coordination between defense systems”, said Draghi while stressing that EU defense budget is three times as much the one of Russia, but is split in 146 systems, the USA have only 34. “It’s a distribution of resources highly ineffective which hampers the actual construction of a real EU defense”.

“The strategic autonomy of defense is realized primarily through an increase of budget expense in Europe” he said calling for a conference on defense “to optimize our investments on military budget”.

Draghi led government faced a polarised debate on the increase of military and defense budget ended with an apparent dispute settlement within the coalition government where 5Star Movement opposed an immediate 2% increase which will instead be spanned across the next six years until 2028.

For thee Italian Prime Minister this acceleration towards uniformed systems and federalism must also involve EU enlargement process. “Italy supports the immediate opening of the accession process with Albania and North Macedonia in accordance with the decision taken by the European Council in March 2020; we want to give new impetus to the negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro and ensure maximum attention to the expectations of Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo, we are in favor of the entry of all these countries and we want Ukraine to join the European Union.

“Italy will be in favour of embargo on all fossil fuels from Russia” Draghi reiterated.

As Italy imports more than 40% of its gas from Russia, Draghi defined the energy dependence of Europe and Italy in particular, from Moscow “imprudent from an economic point of view and dangerous from a geopolitical point of view”.

“The reduction in imports of fossil fuels from Russia – he said- makes it inevitable that Europe looks toward the Mediterranean to meet its needs. I am referring to gas fields as a transition fuel but above all to the huge opportunities offered by renewables in Africa and the Middle East. The countries of southern Europe are strategically placed to act as a bridge to the northern European countries. Our centrality of tomorrow passes through the investments that we will be able to make today”.

Since the beginning of the crisis, Italy has asked to put a European cap on the price of gas imported from Russia, which sells almost 2/3 of its natural gas exports to Europe.

Yesterday the Italian parliament approved the liberalisation of the process of authorisation for installation of renewables sources: “I think we made an important step for Italy”.