Wednesday, 16 January 2008

EU Treaty of Lisbon: CFSP proposals

Mankind has always tried to find answers to the seemingly inexplicable mysteries of life. Was the Treaty of Lisbon, this masterpiece of readable legal drafting, a stroke of genius by the intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007), a combined answer to different challenges for the European Union? Perhaps

the Member States,

Recognising that the inner workings of the European Union need streamlining,

Desiring to engage its citizens,

Anxious that Europe has an ageing population,

Have decided to engage these ageing persons in stimulating puzzles and to this end have drafted the Treaty of Lisbon.

***

Having instilled a sense of meaning into the seemingly meaningless, we look forward to today’s small mental exercise, brought to us on line, courtesy of the Council.

We turn to the clues offered by the IGC 2007:

33) An Article 15a shall be inserted, with the text of Article 22, with the following amendments:


(a) in paragraph 1, the words "Any Member State or the Commission may refer to the Council any question relating to the common foreign and security policy" shall be replaced by "Any Member State, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, or the High Representative with the Commission's support, may refer any question relating to the common foreign and security policy to the Council" and the words "submit proposals to the Council" shall be replaced by "submit to it initiatives or proposals as appropriate";

(b) in paragraph 2, the words "the Presidency, of its own motion," shall be replaced by "the High Representative, of his own motion" and the words ", or at the request of the Commission or a Member State," shall be replaced by ", or at the request of a Member State,”

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This should not be too hard. First we have to find the existing Treaty on European Union (TEU). We go straight to the latest consolidated version, published in the Official Journal 29.12.2006 C 321 E. Well, here we have the present

“Article 22

1. Any Member State of the Commission may refer to the Council any question relating to the common foreign and security policy and may submit proposals to the Council.
2. In cases requiring a rapid decision, the Presidency, of its own motion, or at the request of the Commission or a Member State, shall convene an extraordinary Council meeting within 48 hours or, in an emergency, within a shorter period.”

***

And now to the do-it-yourself part: At this beginner’s level of the game, we just have to delete and add according to the instructions given. After a few moments of happy tinkering, we brim with satisfaction and our brains feel activated and stimulated, having solved the puzzle of the amended and consolidated Article 15a TEU:

Article 15a

1. Any Member State, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, or the High Representative with the Commission’s support, may refer any question relating to the common foreign and security policy to the Council and may submit to it initiatives or proposals as appropriate.

2. In cases requiring a rapid decision, the High Representative, of his own motion, or at the request of a Member State, shall convene an extraordinary Council meeting within 48 hours or, in an emergency, within a shorter period.

***

We can now clearly see that initiatives and proposals can come from both a Member State and from the High Representative. Because the High Representative chairs the Foreign Affairs Council, he convenes the extraordinary meetings instead of the rotating Presidency.

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For the sake of comparison, let us take a look at what the Convention proposed in the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169):

Article III-200

1. Any Member State, the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, or that Minister with the Commission’s support, may refer to the Council of Ministers any question relating to the common foreign and security policy and may submit proposals to it.

2. In cases requiring a rapid decision, the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, of the Minister’s own motion or at the request of a Member State, shall convene an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers within forty-eight hours or, in an emergency, within a shorter period.

***

The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, signed by all the Member States (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310), had the following wording in

Article III-299

1. Any Member State, the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, or that Minister with the Commission’s support, may refer any question relating to the common foreign and security policy to the Council and may submit to it initiatives or proposals as appropriate.

2. In cases requiring a rapid decision, the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, of the Minister’s own motion or at the request of a Member State, shall convene an extraordinary meeting of the Council within forty-eight hours or, in an emergency, within a shorter period.

***

As we see, the Constitutional Treaty changed the word order and the ‘Council of Ministers’ became the ‘Council’. The novelty was ‘initiatives or proposals’ instead of ‘proposals’.

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We can draw the conclusion that the IGC 2007 has fulfilled its mandate (point 1) to “introduce into the existing Treaties, which remain in force, the innovations resulting from the 2004 IGC, as set out below in a detailed fashion”. One of the details (point 3) was that the “Union Minister for Foreign Affairs” will be called High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Council document 11218/07).

With a negligible amount of deciphering, this has proven to be the case in Article 15a TEU.

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‘Initiatives’ may mean that less than fully evolved proposals are allowed.

Crisis situations may lead to extraordinary Council meetings, which take rapid decisions.

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I pray for the (European) Council to find the humility and wisdom to reconsider, and to publish a consolidated version of the Treaty of Lisbon, in every official language of the EU.


Ralf Grahn