Sunday, 13 January 2008

EU Treaty of Lisbon: CFSP implementation

Can the European Union speak with ‘one voice’ in the world? The Reform Treaty brings about considerable improvement, if the EU is able to make up its mind. Preparation, representation and implementation are all enhanced through the renewed office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and by the European External Action Service to be established.

The long overdue reforms of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and of the common security and defence policy (CSDP) can lead to improved security and prosperity for the citizens of the Union, but the institutional arrangements lack openness, transparency and democratic accountability.

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The existing Article 18 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU; latest consolidation OJ 29.12.2006 C 321) says:

“Article 18

1. The Presidency shall represent the Union in matters coming within the common foreign and security policy.
2. The Presidency shall be responsible for the implementation of decisions taken under this title; in that capacity it shall in principle express the position of the Union in international organisations and international conferences.
3. The Presidency shall be assisted by the Secretary-General of the Council who shall exercise the function of High Representative for the common foreign and security policy.
4. The Commission shall be fully associated in the tasks referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2. The Presidency shall be assisted in those tasks if need be by the next Member State to hold the Presidency.
5. The Council may, whenever it deems it necessary, appoint a special representative with a mandate in relation to particular policy issues.”

Article 26 TEU in force says:

“Article 26

The Secretary-General of the Council, High Representative for the common foreign and security policy, shall assist the Council in matters coming within the scope of the common foreign and security policy, in particular through contributing to the formulation, preparation and implementation of policy decisions, and, when appropriate and acting on behalf of the Council at the request of the Presidency, through conducting political dialogue with third parties.”

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The broadly based Convention proposed a clear upgrading of the conduct foreign policy and the representation of the European Union by creating the office of a Union Minister for Foreign Affairs; draft Constitutional Treaty Article III-197 (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169):

“Article III-197

1. The Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, who shall chair the Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs, shall contribute through his or her proposals towards the preparation of the common foreign and security policy and shall ensure implementation of the European decisions adopted by the European Council and the Council of Ministers.
2. For matters relating to the common foreign and security policy, the Union shall be represented by the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs. He or she shall conduct political dialogue on the Union’s behalf and shall express the Union’s position in international organisations and at international conferences.
3. In fulfilling his or her mandate, the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be assisted by a European External Action Service. The service shall work in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States.”

(Article III-197(3) referred to the Declaration on the creation of a European External Action Service.)

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The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310) Article III-296 took over Article III-197(1), slightly altered the wording of paragraph 2 and added words on the European External Action Service (originating in the Declaration proposed by the Convention). The resulting Article III-296(3):

“Article III-296(3)

3. In fulfilling his or her mandate, the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be assisted by a European External Action Service. This service shall work in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States and shall comprise officials from the relevant departments of the General Secretariat of the Council and of the Commission as well as staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States. The organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service shall be established by a European decision of the Council. The Council shall act on a proposal from the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs after consulting the European Parliament and after obtaining the consent of the Commission. “

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The IGC 2007 Mandate (Council document 11218/07, point 1) abandoned the constitutional concept and (point 3) stated that the “Union Minister for Foreign Affairs” will be called High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

In addition to the reverting to the “High Representative”, there are only minor changes to the wording of the Constitutional Treaty in the Lisbon Treaty.

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Some remarks by your glossator:

There is to be no Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, but the substance of the innovations proposed by the Convention is maintained in the renewed office of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The High Representative is going to chair the Foreign Affairs Council, to lead the external action of the European Commission and to lead the European External Action Service, which will combine resources of the Council Secretariat, the Commission and seconded officials from national diplomatic services.

The High Representative is going to prepare proposals for the Foreign Affairs Council and to implement its decisions. He is going to represent the EU in international organisations and at international conferences. EU accession to and representation in international organisations could do much to give the Union a stronger voice in world affairs.

One could say that the ‘double-hatted’ High Representative/Vice-President acts before, during and after. Internal coordination is improved and the chances for consistent policies enhanced. These innovations translate into more security and prosperity for citizens of the European Union.

Cumbersome decision making and the temptation for Member States to fly solo, including national representation in the Security Council of the United Nations, detract from the possibilities for concerted European action on the world stage.

Openness, transparency and democratic accountability at the EU level remain underdeveloped concerning the CFSP and the CSDP.

Our common challenges have moved ‘upstairs’, and the institutional arrangements mount a few steps, but the elected representatives of the citizens (EP) are left on the ground floor.

The Lisbon Treaty cannot remain the last word on institutional reform.

The selection processes for the President of the European Council and the High Representative/Vice-President are going to highly informative as to the ‘state of the Union’ concerning openness, transparency and accountability. Will we citizens know who the candidates are, will they campaign openly, and how are their merits going to be weighed and debated? Or are we supposed to stand by idly, waiting for white smoke to rise from the Conclave?

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The Treaty of Lisbon (OJ 17.12.2006 C 306) inserts an Article 13a TEU.

Article 13a

1. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who shall chair the Foreign Affairs Council, shall contribute through his proposals towards the preparation of the common foreign and security policy and shall ensure implementation of the decisions adopted by the European Council and the Council.

2. The High Representative shall represent the Union for matters relating to the common foreign and security policy. He shall conduct political dialogue with third parties on the Union's behalf and shall express the Union's position in international organisations and at international conferences.

3. In fulfilling his mandate, the High Representative shall be assisted by a European External Action Service. This service shall work in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States and shall comprise officials from relevant departments of the General Secretariat of the Council and of the Commission as well as staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States. The organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service shall be established by a decision of the Council. The Council shall act on a proposal from the High Representative after consulting the European Parliament and after obtaining the consent of the Commission.

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A long time has already passed since the proposals of the Convention. The Member States have agreed to start preparations for the European External Action Service. Declaration (number 15) on Article 13a of the Treaty on European Union states:

“The Conference declares that, as soon as the Treaty of Lisbon is signed, the Secretary-General of the Council, High Representative for the common foreign and security policy, the Commission and the Member States should begin preparatory work on the European External Action Service.”

(The Constitutional Treaty contained a corresponding declaration.)


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If the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty is delayed, the Member States have agreed on guidelines for the transition.

The intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007) approved a Declaration (number 8) on practical measures to be taken upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon as regards the Presidency of the European Council and the Foreign Affairs Council:

“In the event that the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force later than 1 January 2009, the Conference requests the competent authorities of the Member State holding the six-monthly Presidency of the Council at that time, on the one hand, and the person elected President of the European Council and the person appointed High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on the other hand, to take the necessary specific measures, in consultation with the following six-monthly Presidency, to allow an efficient handover of the material and organisational aspects of the Presidency of the European Council and of the Foreign Affairs Council.”

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Next time we look at CFSP decisions.


Ralf Grahn