February 28, 2018 / 5:12 PM / 4 months ago

EU considering majority voting on foreign affairs decisions - Germany

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union is considering making foreign policy decisions subject to majority votes, rather than requiring the unanimous agreement of all members states as at present, German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen talks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

“We are thinking about perhaps moving towards a majority vote in diplomacy and foreign affairs so that we can respond rapidly to crises and speak with one voice, one European voice,” von der Leyen said at a London School of Economics German Symposium event.

“And so you cannot be blocked by the one country who doesn’t want you to utter anything in the direction (that) Europe wants to speak.”

Turning to Germany military spending which was sharply curtailed after the end of the Cold War but ramped up again after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region in 2014, Von der Leyen said it would take years to bring the armed forces up to standard.

“The whole modernisation process will have to go on over years in Germany - and many, many other countries too. That is what we are debating.”

A German defence ministry report earlier this week found that less than half of submarines, warplanes and some key weapons were ready for use.

Asked about German media reports on a cyber attack launched by Russian hacker group APT28, von der Leyen declined to comment.

The reports said the group, which had already attacked the German parliament in 2015, managed to steal data from the foreign and defence ministries in the latest hack.

Germany has confirmed it is investigating a cyber attack that affected government computer networks, but said the incident had been brought under control.

Reporting by Karin Strohecker and Marc Jones; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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