Tuesday, 15 January 2008

EU Treaty of Lisbon: Geographical or thematic CFSP decisions

EU sanctions against terrorists, rogue states and their leaders can be laid down in Council common positions. The Lisbon Treaty retains this instrument in effect, but uses the term decisions.

Presently, the Council of the European Union can adopt common positions within the common foreign and security policy (CFSP). The common positions define the Union’s approach to a particular matter of a geographical or thematic nature. The Member States shall conduct their own policies in conformity with the common positions.

The Lisbon Treaty amends the existing Treaty on European Union (TEU) slightly, but the end result looks a lot like the Constitutional Treaty, even if you have to compare the different texts to find out.

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The existing Treaty on European Union (TEU; latest consolidated version OJ 29.12.C 321) Article 15 states:

“Article 15

The Council shall adopt common positions. Common positions shall define the approach of the Union to a particular matter of a geographical or thematic nature. Member States shall ensure that their national policies conform to the common positions.”

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The Convention made the ‘common positions’ into ‘European decisions’, but did not substantially alter the text in what became Article III-199 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169). The Constitutional Treaty took over this text, in Article III-298 (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310):

“Article III-298

The Council shall adopt European decisions which shall define the approach of the Union to a particular matter of a geographical or thematic nature. Member States shall ensure that their national policies conform to the positions of the Union.”

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The Treaty of Lisbon amends the text of the existing Article 15 TEU by abolishing the ‘common positions’ in favour of ‘decisions’. The wording of Article 15 TEU, after do-it-yourself consolidation, follows:

Article 15

The Council shall adopt decisions which shall define the approach of the Union to a particular matter of a geographical or thematic nature. Member States shall ensure that their national policies conform to the Union positions.”

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The different stages are fairly identical. Goodbye, ‘common positions’ and goodbye, putative ‘European decisions’; the Lisbon Treaty mentions only ‘decisions’. But because ‘decision’ is such a general term, there will be a practical need to distinguish these decisions from others.

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And now to the terrorists, rogue states and their leaders; a few practical examples of fresh common positions:

Council Common Position 2007/871/CFSP of 20 December 2007 updating Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism and repealing Common Position 2007/448/CFSP

Council Common Position 2007/750/CFSP of 19 November 2007 amending Common Position 2006/318/CFSP renewing restrictive measures against Burma/Myanmar

Council Common Position 2007/762/CFSP of 22 November 2007 on participation by the European Union in the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO)

Council Common Position 2007/761/CFSP of 22 November 2007 renewing the restrictive measures imposed against the Côte d’Ivoire

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It is certainly beyond the powers of the European Union to create saints out of dictators and tyrants, but the pooled resources of the EU countries give Europe some clout to limit the worst excesses against humans unlucky enough to live under oppression.

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Next time we are going to look at CFSP proposals.


Ralf Grahn