Sunday, 20 January 2008

EU Treaty of Lisbon: International organisations and conferences

If the member states of the European Union (EU) want to shape world events effectively, they have to coordinate their actions in international organisations and at international conferences. This coordination encompasses both questions of substance and candidates for international posts.

The Security Council of the United Nations, where France and the United Kingdom – the only EU states with nuclear weapons – are permanent members, is a special case. Neither has shown any interest to give up its seat, its veto powers or its status as a (former) great power in favour of representation for the European Union, but at a practical level both have an interest to keep the other EU members on board in most questions.

Action in international organisations and at international conferences is one aspect of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) of the EU in order to safeguard its values and promote its objectives.



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The intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007) regaled us with this exquisite sample of stirring penmanship. See the Treaty of Lisbon (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/29):


”38) Article 19 shall be amended as follows:

(a) in paragraph 1, the words "the common positions" shall be replaced by "the Union's positions" in the first and second subparagraphs and the following sentence shall be added at the end of the first subparagraph: "The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall organise this coordination.";

(b) paragraph 2 shall be amended as follows:

(i) in the first subparagraph, the words "Without prejudice to paragraph 1 and Article 14(3)," shall be replaced by "In accordance with Article 11(3)," and the words "the latter" shall be replaced by "the other Member States and the High Representative";

(ii) in the second subparagraph, first sentence, the words "and the High Representative" shall be inserted after "the other Member States"; in the second sentence, the word "permanent" shall be deleted and the words "ensure the defence of the positions" shall be replaced by "defend the positions";

(iii) the following new third subparagraph shall be added:

"When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the High Representative be invited to present the Union's position."

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In the existing Treaty on European Union (TEU) Article 19 looks like this (latest consolidated version OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/18):

“Article 19

1. Member States shall coordinate their action in international organisations and at international
conferences. They shall uphold the common positions in such forums.

In international organisations and at international conferences where not all the Member States
participate, those which do take part shall uphold the common positions.

2. Without prejudice to paragraph 1 and Article 14(3), Member States represented in international organisations or international conferences where not all the Member States participate shall keep the latter informed of any matter of common interest.

Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council will concert and
keep the other Member States fully informed. Member States which are permanent members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, ensure the defence of the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.”

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We now proceed towards a consolidated version of Article 19 TEU, by making the amendments according to the ’construction manual’. Here is the amended and consolidated Article:

Article 19

1. Member States shall coordinate their action in international organisations and at international
conferences. They shall uphold the Union’s positions in such forums. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall organise this coordination.

In international organisations and at international conferences where not all the Member States
participate, those which do take part shall uphold the Union’s positions.

2. In accordance with Article 11(3), Member States represented in international
organisations or international conferences where not all the Member States participate shall
keep the other Member States and the High Representative informed of any matter of common interest.

Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council will concert and
keep the other Member States and the High Representative fully informed. Member States which are members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.

When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the High Representative be invited to present the Union's position.




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The European Convention proposed the following Article III-206 in the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/68):

Article III-206

1. Member States shall coordinate their action in international organisations and at international conferences. They shall uphold the Union's positions in such fora. The Union Minister for Foreign Affairs shall organise this coordination.

In international organisations and at international conferences where not all the Member States participate, those which do take part shall uphold the Union's positions.

2. Without prejudice to paragraph 1 and Article III-198(3), Member States represented in international organisations or international conferences where not all the Member States participate shall keep the latter, as well as the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, informed of any matter of common interest.

Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council shall concert and keep the other Member States and the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs fully informed. Member States which are members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.

When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the
Union Minister for Foreign Affairs be asked to present the Union's position.

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The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe actually signed by the member states had the following Article III-305 (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310/137):

Article III-305

1. Member States shall coordinate their action in international organisations and at international
conferences. They shall uphold the Union's positions in such fora. The Union Minister for
Foreign Affairs shall organise this coordination.

In international organisations and at international conferences where not all the Member States
participate, those which do take part shall uphold the Union's positions.

2. In accordance with Article I-16(2), Member States represented in international organisations or international conferences where not all the Member States participate shall keep the latter, as well as the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, informed of any matter of common interest.

Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council shall concert and
keep the other Member States and the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs fully informed.
Member States which are members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the United Nations Charter.

When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs be asked to present the Union's position.

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As we see, the basic idea remains the same from the existing TEU, via the Convention and the Constitutional Treaty to the Lisbon Treaty, when Article 19 TEU is presented in a readable, consolidated form.

The role of the High Representative is highlighted, both as a recipient of information and as an organiser of the needed coordination between member states.

The real addition, since the Convention, is Article 19(2) TEU, the new third subparagraph, on the invitation to the High Representative to present the Union’s position (provided there is one).

The loser here, as in the common foreign and security policy in general, is the rotating presidency of the Council. No more memorable appearances in the name of ‘Europe’ on the world stage for the leader(s) of a member state, every fourteenth year or so. The enhanced role of the High Representative should contribute to more coordinated, coherent and consistent action by the EU at international forums.

Since the EU’s agreed CFSP values and objectives are praiseworthy, institutional innovations leading to improved delivery are welcome from a citizen’s standpoint.

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Let it be said that the Treaty of Lisbon does not deprive the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council of their seats, or change the composition of the Security Council, which can not be done unilaterally by the European Union.

On the other hand, from an EU citizen’s point of view and in order to strengthen global governance, a permanent Security Council seat for the European Union would be an improvement.

The UN Security Council remains special, in that the members, the permanent ones constantly, are supposed to ‘concert’ first, and then to inform the rest. How much the practices evolve towards advance ‘concert’ within the Council remains to be seen.

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Diplomatic cooperation will be next in turn.


Ralf Grahn