Berlin will be lobbying the United Nations to secure a permanent seat at the Security Council for the European Union, German state media said.

“Over the next two years, Germany’s main concern will be to try and ensure that the European Union as a whole is given a permanent seat,” public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported Tuesday. This year, Germany takes up the non-permanent seat at the Council for a two year term.

The move comes after the Macron administration rejected German request to turn France’s permanent seat at the council into a joint EU one. Germany’s Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Paris to share its seat with Brussels. “In exchange, France will get to permanently choose the EU representative to the UN,” he proposed.

The Council consists of five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and ten temporary members elected by the General Assembly. The coveted permanent membership comes with the veto power, which gives a country the ability to block resolutions and influence decisions at global level.

The German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ push to reconstitute the UN body:

Germany has a lot of plans it wants to implement over the next two years. At the UN General Assembly in September, Foreign Minister Maas advocated strengthening multilateralism, which has come under pressure from, among other things, the “America First” policies of US President Donald Trump.

“The United Nations is at the heart of the multilateral system,” said Maas before departing for New York earlier this year. “We are living at a time when we need more international order, more reliability, more confidence in our common rules. The United Nations is as strong, just and effective as its members make it.”

Germany also intends to advocate for a strong UN and a strong role for Europe in its various bodies. Over the next two years, Germany’s main concern will be to try and ensure that the European Union as a whole is given a permanent seat. After Brexit, the only EU country represented on the Council will be France.

The German efforts are consistent with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan to transform the EU into a major geopolitical power. In August 2018, Maas laid out a pan-European plan to forge a “counterweight” to the U.S., a strategy backed by Chancellor Merkel. Writing in the business newspaper Handelsblatt, Mass called on the EU to become “a cornerstone of the international order.”

Berlin’s increased interest in the UN coincides with Washington’s disengagement from the world body. This week, the U.S. officially pulled out of UNESCO, the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural agency. The Trump administration initiated the process of withdrawal in October 2017, slamming the organisation for its anti-Israel bias. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.

On Tuesday, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, reasserted her stance tweeting: “UNESCO is among the most corrupt and politically biased UN agencies.”

Many within the German establishment view the UN Security Council, created in 1945, as dominated by the victors of the Second World War. Germany, Europe’s economic power house, wants to be on an equal footing with other European powers, namely France and Britain.

“The Security Council is a product of the World War II,” German newspaper Rheinische Post complained earlier this year, “where the victorious powers secured specially powerful positions. With their outmoded veto powers, they can sabotage any initiative that they (or their allies) do not like.”

Germany, having failed to get a Security Council seat of its own, desperately wants a place at the table. With the EU seated at the Council, Germany can finally pursue its geopolitical interests and project its national power on the global stage under the guise of collective European leadership.

Euronews: Should the EU take France’s seat on the UN Security Council?


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