United Nations: Adding a controversial new element to the stalled UN Security Council (UNSC) reform process, German Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz has proposed that France should give up its permanent seat to the European Union (EU).
Scholz's proposal -- if Bonn follows through with it - would mark a break from the joint stand Germany has taken with India, Brazil and Japan for increasing the number of permanent seats on the Security Council.
The group of the four countries known as G4 has been a leading voice for Security Council reforms and the members also mutually support each other's claims to permanent seats.
To enable the EU to "speak with one voice", Sholz said in Berlin on Wednesday: "France's seat on the Security Council could be converted into a seat for the EU."
Neither German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas nor has the German government publicly endorsed his proposal.
The French government has not formally reacted to the proposal, but its Ambassador in Washington, Gerard Araud dismissed it.
"This is legally impossible because it is contrary to the Charter of the UN. The change would be politically impossible," he tweeted.
In his speech, Scholz, who is also the Finance Minister, focused on European unity and enhancing its clout -- an issue of importance since the US under President Donald Trump is retreating from its traditionally robust global role.
He cited Trump's decision to back out of the Paris Agreement on climate change and said: "We have to move forward at the European level if we are going to have an impact as a global influencer."
He called for "a common foreign policy approach" and said: "The EU should also speak with one voice in the UN Security Council."
This could be achieved by turning over France's seat to the EU and "in return, France would then have the right to appoint the EU ambassador to the United Nations in perpetuity", he added.
He acknowledged that "this might require a little persuasion work in Paris, but it is a bold and shrewd goal".
A translation of the speech at Humboldt University was posted on the website of the German Finance Ministry.
While Araud was right that giving the French permanent seat to the EU would be against the UN Charter, so would adding new members Security Council unless it is amended.
Charter amendment would require the votes of two-thirds of the UN membership -- France and other permanent members could veto the amendment.
When Britain leaves the EU next year, France will be the only permanent member from that bloc on the Security Council.
The permanent seats with veto powers were distributed among themselves by the five victors of World War II - Britain, China, France, the US and what was the Soviet Union and is now Russia.
Germany with a far stronger economy with a gross domestic output of $4 trillion to France's $2.7 trillion has assumed a greater role in European affairs and sees itself as having a strong claim to a permanent seat.