Friday, 18 January 2008

EU Treaty of Lisbon: CFSP common approach

I would like to see European leaders who make me proud.

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The EU member states consult, they reach a common approach, and then they coordinate their action. That is the purpose of the European Union, isn’t it? Then, why communicate like it was a state secret?

In my dictionary ‘fair play’ is described as ‘respect for the rules or equal treatment of all concerned’.

It was a serious miscalculation by the intergovernmental conference (the European Council) to decide that no consolidated versions of the Lisbon Treaty are to be published by any EU institution before the amending Treaties are ratified in every member state and have entered into force. It was and is depressing that the other EU institutions acquiesce in this conspiracy of silence, and that individual ministers and MEPs, as well as European political parties are keener to show solidarity to their peers than to the public. (If anybody is in doubt as to the essential correctness of my assertions, I refer to the lightly sanitized postings on my blogs since the middle of October. If push came to shove, I would have to present my documented evidence, if not able to claim journalistic anonymity for my sources.)

Has anybody presented a recorded decision? Has anybody stepped forward to take responsibility, or to present the reasons openly? Not to my knowledge. Having asked around, I have found that most of the people ‘in the know’ prefer not to answer. It seems to be a more convenient option than lying or telling the truth, but it goes against the grain of democratic interplay.

The end result of the intergovernmental conference is that we have an unreadable Reform Treaty, which makes a mockery of open communication and the notion of democratic fair play. The damage caused is deeper and more long-lasting than the inconvenience caused by foaming fanatics claiming that 50 year old treaty provisions are novelties smashing state sovereignty (as in Britain) or social protection (as in France) or whatever.

The lack of a readable text has done nothing to dampen the spirits on the fringes, where conscientious analysis is less than highly regarded and balanced presentation unknown, but it has meant serious inconvenience for those, who would like to base their opinion on facts (without pre-programmed filtering or spin by office holders and institutions).

The citizens who want to know the end result conveniently can go to one of the available consolidated language versions of the Treaty of Lisbon, like the updated TEU and TFEU published in English by the Institute of International and European Affairs (Dublin, Ireland):

http://www.iiea.com

They are of great service to the public.

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My own quest is a little bit different. I try to wade through the Lisbon Treaty, one Article at a time, taking note of the similarities and differences between the existing Treaties, the draft Constitution, the signed Constitution and the amending Treaties. This I do as objectively as I can. In addition, I offer my personal comments on the (proposed) ‘state of the Union’, from an EU citizen’s point of view.

I imagine that my work could be of assistance to students of European affairs (politcs, law, economics) and to generalist teachers as well as to interested citizens who would want to take a deeper look at the background or consider subjective but independent views untrammelled by inbred hostility or self-congratulatory institutional loyalty.

As long as the EU institutions fail to publish consolidated, readable versions of the Treaty of Lisbon in every official language of the Union, I find it meaningful to decipher the Reform Treaty, as far as I am able, given the practical constraints. And it offers me an opportunity to repeat (ad nauseam) how our leaders have failed to live up to expectations formed by their professed ideals and principles. The mixture of ingredients like fact, irony, sarcasm and humour may vary from time to time, but the theme is constant: Publish or perish. (It goes for all sides.)

I welcome reasoned debate and I prefer real persons who use their own names.

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I would like to see European leaders who make me proud, and who take care of our common interests, while playing by the rules of fair play.


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What does the intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007) have in store for us today? We go to the following exercise in public relations by our governments, the Treaty of Lisbon (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/28-29) amending the Treaty on European Union (TEU).


"35) Article 16 shall be amended as follows:



(a) the words "inform and" shall be deleted, the words "within the Council" shall be replaced by "within the European Council and the Council" and the words "in order to ensure that the Union's influence is exerted as effectively as possible by means of concerted and convergent action" shall be replaced by "in order to determine a common approach";

(b) the following sentences shall be added after the first sentence: "Before undertaking any action on the international scene or entering into any commitment which could affect the Union's interests, each Member State shall consult the others within the European Council or the Council. Member States shall ensure, through the convergence of their actions, that the Union is able to assert its interests and values on the international scene. Member States shall show mutual solidarity.";

(c) the following two paragraphs shall be added:

"When the European Council or the Council has defined a common approach of the Union within the meaning of the first paragraph, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Member States shall coordinate their activities within the Council.

The diplomatic missions of the Member States and the Union delegations in third countries and at international organisations shall cooperate and shall contribute to formulating and implementing the common approach.”

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Today’s exercise seems fairly straightforward. First, we turn to the existing Treaty on European Union, Article 16 TEU (latest consolidated version OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/6):

“Article 16

Member States shall inform and consult one another within the Council on any matter of foreign and security policy of general interest in order to ensure that the Union’s influence is exerted as effectively as possible by means of concerted and convergent action.”

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Then, starts the fun part: reconstructing the democratic intention of our leaders:

Article 16

Member States shall consult one another within the European Council and the Council on any matter of foreign and security policy of general interest in order to determine a common approach. Before undertaking any action on the international scene or entering into any commitment which could affect the Union’s interests, each Member State shall consult the others within the European Council or the Council. Member States shall ensure, through the convergence of their actions, that the Union is able to assert its interests and values on the international scene. Member States shall show mutual solidarity.

When the European Council or the Council has defined a common approach of the Union within the meaning of the first paragraph, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Member States shall coordinate their activities within their activities within the Council.

The diplomatic missions of the Member States and the Union delegations in third countries and at international organisations shall cooperate and shall contribute to formulating and implementing the common approach.

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The member states consult, they reach a common approach and then they coordinate their action. That is the purpose of the European Union, isn’t it? Then, why communicate like it was a state secret?

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What does this consolidated Article remind us of? We turn to the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/17) Article I-39 Specific provisions for implementing common foreign and security policy, or more exactly Article I-39(5):

“5. Member States shall consult one another within the European Council and the Council of Ministers on any foreign and security policy issue which is of general interest in order to determine a common approach. Before undertaking any action on the international scene or any commitment which could affect the Union’s interests, each Member State shall consult the others within the European Council or the Council of Ministers. Member States shall ensure, through the convergence of their actions, that the Union is able to assert its interests and values on the international scene. Member States shall show mutual solidarity.”

We then proceed to Article III-202 as proposed by the Convention:

“1. When the Union has defined a common approach within the meaning of Article I-39(5), the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Member States shall coordinate their activities within the Council of Ministers.

2. The diplomatic missions of the Member States and the delegations of the Union shall cooperate in third countries and in international organisations and shall contribute to formulating and implementing a common approach.”

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In the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310) the first corresponding Article I-40 had a new, slightly altered headline: Specific provisions relating to the common foreign and security policy, and the ‘Council of Ministers’ had become the ‘Council’. Otherwise Article I-40(5) in the signed Treaty was the same as the corresponding provision drafted by the Convention.

Article III-301 of the Constitutional Treaty gave the wording a few touches, but in essence it took over the text proposed by the Convention in its Article III-202.

The Treaty of Lisbon, Article 16 TEU, merges the two corresponding Articles of the draft Constitution and the signed Constitutional Treaty without altering the substance.

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This was today’s deciphering exercise. Slowly but surely we cover the ground the IGC 2007 would have us see only ‘through a glass, darkly’. (Thank you, Donna Leon.)


Ralf Grahn