Tuesday, 22 January 2008

EU Treaty of Lisbon: Democratic scrutiny of CFSP

Long after the European states became democracies, their foreign, security and defence policies retained an aura of an era of royal prerogatives. Add the difficulty that each country should actually contribute something if the the member states of the European Union want to shape a real common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and a working common security and defence policy (CSDP) and profit from them.

The governments’ progress towards effective common policies has been hesitant, their enthusiasm for openness and transparency tepid and their guard against democratic accountability and scrutiny jealous.

The Treaty of Lisbon goes some way towards a more effective CFSP and CSDP, but democratic accountability and democratic scrutiny advance only nominally. In these areas the European Union continues to be far from its founding values.

The CFSP and the CSDP are like a throwback to pre-democratic or proto-democratic times, which remind us more of the 19th than of the 21st century.


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In the Treaty of Lisbon the intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007) amended Article 21 TEU (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/30):

40) Article 21 shall be amended as follows:

(a) the first paragraph shall be replaced by the following:

"The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall regularly consult the European Parliament on the main aspects and the basic choices of the common foreign and security policy and the common security and defence policy and inform it of how those policies evolve. He shall ensure that the views of the European Parliament are duly taken into consideration. Special representatives may be involved in briefing the European Parliament.";

(b) in the second paragraph, first sentence, the words "and to the High Representative" shall be inserted at the end; in the second sentence, the words "It shall hold an annual debate" shall be replaced by "Twice a year it shall hold a debate" and the words ", including the common security and defence policy" shall be inserted at the end.

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In the existing Treaty on European Union (TEU) Article 21 looks like this (latest consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and of the Treaty establishing the European Community OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/19):

Article 21

The Presidency shall consult the European Parliament on the main aspects and the basic choices of the common foreign and security policy and shall ensure that the views of the European Parliament are duly taken into consideration. The European Parliament shall be kept regularly informed by the Presidency and the Commission of the development of the Union's foreign and security policy.

The European Parliament may ask questions of the Council or make recommendations to it. It shall hold an annual debate on progress in implementing the common foreign and security policy.

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The updated and consolidated version of Article 21 TEU would look like this:

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall regularly consult the European Parliament on the main aspects and the basic choices of the common foreign and security policy and the common security and defence policy and inform it of how those policies evolve. He shall ensure that the views of the European Parliament are duly taken into consideration. Special representatives may be involved in briefing the European Parliament.

The European Parliament may ask questions of the Council or make recommendations to it and to the High Representative. Twice a year it shall hold a debate on progress in implementing the common foreign and security policy, including the common security and defence policy.

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The Convention draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/68) proposed an Article III-205:

Article III-205

1. The Union Minister for Foreign Affairs shall consult the European Parliament on the main aspects and the basic choices of the common foreign and security policy, including the common security and defence policy, and shall ensure that the views of the European Parliament are duly taken into consideration. The European Parliament shall be kept regularly informed by the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of the development of the common foreign and security policy, including the common security and defence policy. Special representatives may be involved in briefing the European Parliament.

2. The European Parliament may ask questions of the Council of Ministers and of the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs or make recommendations to them. Twice a year it shall hold a debate on progress in implementing the common foreign and security policy, including the common security and defence policy.


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The corresponding provision in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was Article III-304 (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310/137):


Article III-304

1. The Union Minister for Foreign Affairs shall consult and inform the European Parliament in
accordance with Article I-40(8) and Article I-41(8). He or she shall ensure that the views of the
European Parliament are duly taken into consideration. Special representatives may be involved in briefing the European Parliament.

2. The European Parliament may ask questions of the Council and of the Union Minister for
Foreign Affairs or make recommendations to them. Twice a year it shall hold a debate on progress in implementing the common foreign and security policy, including the common security and defence policy.

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There are changes when the High Representative takes the place of the rotating Presidency. But otherwise there is not much between the different versions, from the present Article 21 TEU, through the draft Constitution which added a second annual debate, to the Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty Article 21 TEU which retained the modest advances.

CFSP and CSDP is like a throwback to pre-democratic or proto-democratic times, which remind us more of the 19th than of the 21st century.

The scale of foreign policy challenges has increasingly overgrown the effective capacity of the individual member states. Basically, they can choose between solo impotence and shared power. Since only the EU level offers promises of effective action, democratic governance should follow upstairs.

The need for institutional reform is far from over.

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International agreements will follow.


Ralf Grahn