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Mr. Menzies Campbell: Should do so.

Mr. Garnier: Indeed, they should do so. Some have done so already. I hope that they made a point of calling on our embassies and high commissioners to see the calibre of the staff. Despite the abuse from those who are less informed, they do a marvellous job. As others have mentioned, their work to encourage investment into Britain is second to none and requires frequent praise.

The United Kingdom has traditionally taken a somewhat detached view of European affairs, intervening directly only when her vital interests were affected by some threat to the balance of power. In general terms--I stress the word "general"--from the 17th century onwards our trading links have been predominantly with the world beyond Europe where we have left the old great powers of Russia, Prussia, the Austrian empire and France to work things out among themselves.

That detached attitude towards Europe is best encapsulated by the words of the Marquess of Salisbury, Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary in the last years of the 19th century:

In uttering those words, Lord Salisbury was guilty of no more than typical English understatement, but perhaps the style as much as the substance of British policy in Europe has led to some of the misunderstandings of what the United Kingdom does and intends.

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The history of Europe is one of conflict. Since the first Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar, we British have been inextricably linked to the European political and diplomatic scene, nearly always acting in concert with allies, though sometimes alone, in the furtherance or protection of our national interests. I use the words "allies" and "interests" advisedly, remembering the words of another great 19th century Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, who remarked that Britain had no eternal allies, but only eternal interests.

In the past, we have fought alongside certain European powers against others and then alongside our former foes against our former allies, but always with one goal in mind: the restoration and maintenance of a balance of power in Europe because it is through peace and stability that our interests are best served. Some would say "perfide Albion". I prefer "Britannia pragmatica".

So where does that lead us in considering British policy towards current common foreign and security policy? It is the third pillar of the European Union. Article B of the treaty on European Union states that the objective of the Union is to

It is important to make a distinction between a common European security policy, which formally came into existence in November 1993 and which perhaps emerged de facto during the 1980s, and a common European defence. The common provisions of the treaty speak of the

    "implementation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy"
but the framing of a common defence policy is seen only as "eventual"--something that might in time lead to a common defence. There is an awful lot of work to be done before we come anywhere near that.

Discussion of the effectiveness of the CFSP generally centres on Bosnia. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd) wrote in an article in International Affairs in 1994:

The failure may be even more damning since the European Community's early involvement in the crisis was heralded as such a success. After the Brioni accords of June 1991, which ended the confrontation between the Federal Yugoslav Government and Slovenia, Jacques Poos, the Luxembourg Foreign Minister and President exclaimed:

    "This is the hour of Europe."
Within a year, however, much of eastern Croatia had been devastated by war and a new conflict was waged in Bosnia that, to a greater or lesser degree, continued until very recently.

Numerous reasons have been put forward for that failure. Above all, a peace settlement is dependent on the consent of the warring parties and the failure of independent European action has been shared by the limited success of other institutions such as NATO, the United Nations and the conference on security and co-operation in Europe, although with the more active intervention of the United States through NATO, together

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with the deployment of additional United Kingdom and French troops on the ground, there has been considerable movement towards a settlement of the conflict in former Yugoslavia. We all hope that the discussions currently taking place in Dayton, Ohio will lead to a permanent peace. There have been suggestions that I am wrong to be too hopeful, but expressing hope is worthy of repetition. If we remain pessimistic, we may as well give up and go home.

Those factors do not disguise the persistent problem, which was always visible in European foreign policy making under European political co-operation, and which remains under the CFSP: deep-seated national differences in foreign and economic policy often undermine common European Union action.

In the former Yugoslavia, for example, European Union policy making has been hindered by the differing historical and geographical perspectives of individual members. For example, traditional German sympathies for Croatia and Greek attachments to Serbia have cut across common positions. Even as war began, Britain, France and Germany were pushing in opposite directions. While London and Paris wished to preserve a unitary Yugoslav state, Germany did not, resulting in much acrimony before the European Union decided to recognise Slovenia and Croatia in January 1992.

In June 1993, Chancellor Kohl supported President Clinton's policy of lifting the arms embargo on the Muslims in direct opposition to the then policy of Britain and France. At the same time, despite clarifying its constitutional position on the use of force, for political reasons Germany was not able to send troops to join UNPROFOR.

Others have blamed the European Union's limited impact on Bosnia on institutional weakness and, in particular, on a lack of political will. Certainly, as with the European political co-operation, the CFSP has tended to be reactive, and that refers back to the point made by the hon. Member for West Derby. That may in part be caused by the limited size of CFSP institutions and the bureaucratic consequences of intergovernmentalism. CFSP mechanisms may work well when there is a prepared and long-standing agenda, as for example with the European stability pact, but may prove less effective in producing policies in response to rapidly occurring crises.

Building consensus among numerous national Governments is often time consuming. Moreover, the fact that the CFSP lacks any significant contingency funding may prove a major disincentive to rapid actions. A further weakness of the CFSP is that it has often depended on the diplomatic resources of the country holding the presidency, although to a large extent the creation of the Troika has overcome that weakness.

Mr. Mackinlay: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am very interested in what the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying, but I seek your guidance because my understanding--I hope to be corrected--is that he is the parliamentary private secretary to the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the hon. Member for Boothferry (Mr. Davis). [Interruption.] I am sorry to learn that he is no longer the parliamentary private secretary to the Minister, but he is a PPS and it

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seems unusual and unprecedented that a PPS should be brought in to bat because there is nobody else on the Conservative Benches to speak.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes): That is not a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Garnier: It is a matter for me, Madam Deputy Speaker, to reply to an offensive remark from an ignorant Member. I am no longer the PPS to the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I am now delighted to be the PPS to the Law Officers. I have not been brought into the Chamber. I have followed Foreign Office and defence affairs consistently since I became a Member of Parliament. I was elected as secretary of the Back-Bench foreign affairs committee within days of being elected a Member. I have made a point of following foreign affairs since then.

I hope that I may be allowed to continue. My contribution may not interest the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) but I am surprised that he is offended by it. On other occasions, I have found him to be a rather more reasonable fellow. It may be that, as we come nearer to the election, the gloves must come off. He may have to think of reasons for interrupting and making a nuisance of himself.

I was about to make a general point before the minor disturbance on the Opposition Benches below the Gangway. It may be easy for national Governments to blame European Union institutions for their indecision. European leaders, fearful of a lack of public support for the number of casualties in Bosnia that might be consequent on large-scale military European action in former Yugoslavia, have shown themselves hesitant to intervene. Perhaps more significantly, with member states faced with budgetary deficits and a desire to capitalise on the peace dividend resulting from the end of the cold war, European Treasuries have been reluctant to finance the cost of intervention. Despite the changes brought by the CFSP, European foreign and defence policies are faced with a large discrepancy between declaration and reality.

The question is whether the CFSP and European defence co-operation can become more effective or whether The Guardian, which I suspect the hon. Member for Thurrock reads more often than me, was right to suggest in June 1993--

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