Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are really annoying many Europeans. They torpedo the unity against Vladimir Putin’s war.

Turkey’s president blocks Finland and Sweden from joining NATO. The Hungarian prime minister passed the EU’s sixth package of sanctions.

After the supposed agreement at the EU summit on the oil embargo, Orbán follows up: The Russian patriarch Kirill, who appears as a propagandist for Putin’s war, must be exempted from personal penalties. The EU bows to Orbán. This is a mistake. Europe needs to find ways to coerce troublemakers who use the desire for unity to blackmail into collective action.

It’s easier with the Russia sanctions than with the NATO expansion. Unity is overrated as a symbol of political strength. Especially where it is not required at all.

In principle, any number of EU countries could agree to boycott Russian oil. The main thing is that their joint purchase share is enough to put pressure on Russia. An EU oil embargo would also work without Hungary.

The EU would then not have to make any concessions to Orbán for his yes. She could even confidently speak of “EU minus one” sanctions.

Any public mention of the term would put Orbán in the pillory for preventing unity. In this case, “consensus minus one” would create more pressure than a watered-down sanctions package.

The case is different for resolutions that require unanimity. Consensus is required for the admission of new NATO members, and with good reason. From it follows a promise of support in the event of an attack on the new partner. The Allies can only make this commitment unanimously.

Nevertheless, there is a challenge here – for NATO but also for the EU. It too can only decide on new admissions, contract changes and other important projects unanimously. Increasingly, individual members abuse the need for unity as a lever to push through national concerns, even if they have nothing to do with the matter.

If this catches on, the organizations will become incapable of acting. They only work if the community benefit is of such high value for all involved that they make concessions.

In extreme cases there is only one way out: dissolution and reestablishment without the stubborn member. Or, as a middle ground, the agreement of almost all NATO members to give Finland and Sweden bilateral assistance guarantees. If everyone except Turkey did that, Erdogan would be pilloried in a similarly isolated way as Orbán was with “EU minus one”.

Such an approach is of course risky. It can motivate the troublemaker to block any decision that requires unanimity.

Currently, the EU and NATO are more afraid of Orbán and Erdogan than vice versa. You have to gain respect; otherwise they give up. And lose value for their members.