There has been much talk about when or if the European Union will start speaking with one voice internationally and in foreign affairs. A lot of things instantly come to mind – energy policy, Human Rights, multilateral trade agreements, military activity – the list goes on.
The EU is a global player, with its own economic and geopolitical interests. If the EU were to protect these interests, that are EU citizens’ interests, we have to be able to speak with one voice with our partners.
The European External Action Service was created with the Lisbon Treaty. Baroness Catherine Ashton was chosen as the first High Representative of this institution and of the EU’s foreign affairs. Hopefully she will not fail in her assignments to co-ordinate and stand for agreed positions of the Member States. Otherwise Europe’s international influence will fade indefinitely and the EU dissolve internally. Such a situation could then be characterised by an already existing anecdote – Hillary Clinton dials Cathy Ashton’s number. An answering machine picks up the phone. The following message is read out: “You have called the High Representative of the EU Foreign Affairs. Unfortunately our working day is finished. If you have a question and wish to know the position of France, dial 1; if you wish to know the position of Germany, dial 2”. And so on…
Hopefully the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) can help in avoiding this scenario. The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) is also a part of this. There is already in place the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) that gives Members States and non Member States alike the chance to co-operate on different security related issues. The institution is also responsible for designing the EU’s political and strategic concepts regarding CSDP missions and operations. The latter is going to be the heart and basis for the EU’s External Action Service, concentrating on preventing and reacting on civilian crises (e.g. natural disasters) here and abroad.
In addition we have the European Defence Agency, whose assignment is to develop a functioning system to satisfy the needs of the CSDP. Also, it fosters EU co-operation on weaponry and defence equipment.
For more information, please read:
- Council of Europe – Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
- European Security Strategy of 2003 and its revision in 2008:
European Security Strategy: A secure Europe in a better world (EN, Brussels, 12 December 2003)
- External Relations Council meeting – Ministerial Declaration:
ESDP Ten Years – Challenges and Opportunities (November 2009)
- “The Crisis Management and Planning Directorate: recalibrating ESDP Planning and conduct Capacities”
- Report on the Implementation of the European Security Strategy: Providing Security in a Changing World (Brussels, 11 December 2008, S407/08)
- External Relations: Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) for the European Union
- CSDP information by the Council of the EU: Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP)
- Implementation of The CFSP and CSDP
- CSDP structures and instruments
- Headline Goal 2010 (PDF)
- Presidency Report on ESDP (CSDP), June 2009 (PDF)