Convention and CFSP

The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of
the EU has been thrown into disarray because of the split among
the current and among the future Member States over the war in
Iraq. Creating a politically and militarily unified Europe
after the sucessful market integration and the creation of the
euro seems to be the next logical step. There is broad
consensus that Europe will be unable to make its voice heard as
long as it remains divided and lacks a credible military force.
However, deep divisions over the handling of the Iraqi crisis
have temporarily hampered the process of political integration.
Most observers agree that it is in EU’s interest to heal the
rift between the two camps in Europe and repair the damaged
trans-Atlantic relations.

Throughout its history, the European
integration has largely focused on economic and trade
integration. However, it has become increasingly evident
that the EU as a major international economic player cannot
continue as a 'political dwarf'. The grounds for political
cooperation were first laid in the Single European Act of
1986, which formalised intergovernmental cooperation.

The Maastricht Treaty, which came into
force in November 1993, inc orporated the objective of a
"common foreign policy" for the first time. The Amsterdam
Treaty, in force since 1999, devoted Articles 11 to 28 to
the CFSP. This enables the EU to express its common voice
on all international issues, from human rights to armed
conflicts. The Amsterdam Treaty introduced the so-called
'constructive abstention' mechanism which makes provision
for the protection of vital national interest whilst not
hindering the remaining members from adopting a common
position.

The Treaty of Amsterdam also introduced
a new post of a High Representative for the CFSP, Mr Javier
Solana Madariaga, who took up the post on 18 October 1999
for a period of five years.

The latest EU Treaty, the Treaty of
Nice, which entered into force on 1 February 2003, contains
new CFSP provisions. It increases the areas which fall
under qualified majority voting and enhances the role of
the Political and Security Committee in crisis management
operations. The Treaty also provides the EU with a new

(ESDP) that covers all matters relating to its security.

The main instruments of the CFSP are

The
Convention Working Group on External
Action

made the following recommendations in December 2002:

  • current competencies in external action need not be
    revised;
  • large majority in favour of one "European External
    Representative" (combining functions of High
    Representative and Relex Commissioner);
  • establishment of External Action Council, distinct
    from General Affairs formation;
  • focal point to be established within the
    Commission, possibly Vice-President;
  • establishment of joint service (European External
    Action Service), composed of DG RELEX officials,
    Council secretariat officials and staff from national
    diplomatic services;
  • creation of EU diplomatic academy and EU diplomatic
    service;
  • majority in favour of maximum use of qualified
    majority voting on common foreign and security
    policy;
  • high support for qualified majority voting in all
    areas of commercial policy;
  • common foreign and security policy to have more
    financial resources.

 

joint actions

,
decisions

and
the conclusion of international agreements

. Declarations and contacts with third countries also
constitute the EU's common diplomatic tools.

 

Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Denmark,
Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia,
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

signed joint declarations expressing support for US
military action against the Iraqi regime.
France, Germany and Belgium

are leading the anti-war coalition, insisting on a leading
role for the UN in finding a solution for Iraq.

At their emergency
Summit

on 17 February, the leaders of the EU's 15 Member States
agreed a "lowest common denominator" position on Iraq,
which they confirmed at the
Spring European Council

in March, where the EU was essentially reduced to the role
of a humanitarian organisation.

The determination of
France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg

to press ahead with their plans for a "core Europe" of
countries who desire closer political union could weaken
the EU. Britain, Spain and Italy as well as most Central
Europeans are not likely to favour creating an 'advance
party' within the EU, which would leave them in the outer
circle.

The rift between the EU Member States
has led the Chairman of the European Convention
Valy Giscard d'Estaing

to conclude that the 105-member Convention cannot address
the issue of foreign policy as long as the situation is not
clear.

Jacques Delors

, former Commission president and head of the Paris-based
think tank Notre Europe, believes that Europe is un likely
to create a genuine common foreign policy in the next 20
years. He said in an interview with the Financial Times
that the EU of 25 should rather concentrate on "quality of
life" issues such as consolidating peace and mutual
understanding, bolstering sustainable development and
fostering Europe's diversity.

Simon Duke of the European Institute of Public
Administration

says that the Iraq crisis opened up the question what role
the EU wishes to play in the international system. In his
recent paper on EU foreign policy, entitled

'No common, no security, no policy and all
foreign'

, Dr. Duke stresses that "any definition of this role must
consider the EU's relations with the US and the Union's
contribution to global governance.

Over 70 percent of EU citizens support
the Union's efforts towards creating a common security and
foreign policy, according to a
Eurobarometer poll

, conducted between January and mid-February 2003. Support
for a common foreign policy was found to be the lowest in
Finland, Sweden and Britain, and the highest in Greece,
Italy and Luxembourg. The findings of the poll were
presented to Valy Giscard d'Estaing, president of the
Convention on the future of Europe, who had requested
regular polls on the subject.

 

The European Convention will make its
proposals on CFSP and ESDP in its draft Constitutional
Treaty, which is to be discussed by the EU leaders at the
Thessaloniki European Council on 20 June 2003.  

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe

Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.