Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer insisted the bloc is becoming complacent and must act to overhaul its decision-making processes before it is too late. Speaking after a meeting of EU defence ministers in Berlin, she said it’s time for Brussels to toughen up as numerous threats circle the EU’s borders. “The biggest threat to our security is our own complacency and disunity,” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer told Politico.
“Europe is surrounded by instability and conflict. It also has profound interests in its neighbourhood.
“And yet, we find it hard to create our own meaningful ability to act. That must change.”
Senior EU figures have long bemoaned the bloc’s lack of power and genuine foreign policy strategy.
Even the most minor decisions are often hindered by differences of opinion between the member states.
Squabbling over the bloc’s planned sanctions against Belarus and a response to Turkey over escalating tensions in the Mediterranean has exposed weaknesses in the EU’s overseas strategy.
At a gathering in Berlin, foreign ministers failed to reach an agreement on either because some member states demanded a link between Belarus and the response to Ankara.
Cyprus suggested it might block the Belarus sanctions unless the EU ramps up pressure on Turkey.
The island state is currently in an angry stand-off with Ankara over alleged illegal energy exploration in disputed maritime territory off its coast.
Cypriot foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides said: “We don’t want there to be double standards or ambiguities.
“It’s very important to protect the credibility of the EU.”
Germany, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, opposed attempts to link the two issues.
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EU sources said this could include “sanctions” but aggression towards Ankara is being discouraged because it is still an accession candidate.
Enlargement commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said the issue of Turkish accession is “massively questioned”.
Any punitive measures, however, are expected to be left for the bloc’s leaders to decide at a special summit next month.