EFFECTIVENESS OF COMMON STRATEGIES
Joint report to the General Affairs Council by the Secretary General/High
Representative and the Commission: The Effectiveness of Common Strategies.
|Document originated:||23 January 2002
|Forwarded to the Council:
||23 January 2002|
|Deposited in Parliament:
||11 February 2002|
|Department:||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 20 February 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
|Discussed in Council:
||General Affairs Council on 28 January 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
21.1 Common Strategies are designed to provide a policy
framework that will maintain continuity over successive Presidencies.
Each Presidency submits a work-plan in order to demonstrate how
it will implement the Common Strategy.
21.2 The February 2001 General Affairs Council (GAC)
agreed guidelines aimed at improving the effectiveness of existing
and future Common Strategies. It set out four basic principles:
" Common Strategies should be expected to bring
clear added value, identified in advance, including the improvement
of coherence and co-ordination of external policies, both bilateral
- Common Strategies should be more focussed on clearly identified
issues and themes. They should cover specific, well defined and
verifiable policy objectives. The SG/HR and the Commission should
play central roles in this regard;
- Common Strategies should aim at enhancing the coherent use
of all appropriate means and resources available to the Union,
the Community and the Member States including subsequent implementation
through Common Positions and Joint Actions adopted by QMV;
- progress in the implementation of verifiable objectives should
be measured regularly and necessary adjustments should be made.
Within its overall responsibility, the Council will in particular
ensure a close monitoring of the implementation, including an
annual review in January, drawing on the contributions of the
SG/HR and the Commission, both of whom should play an active role
in the implementation."
21.3 On 23 January 2002, the Secretary General/High Representative
(SG/HR) and the Commission published a joint report on the effectiveness
of Common Strategies, which was endorsed by the 28 January GAC.
21.4 The report covers:
"the implementation of the current Common Strategies
notably as regards their added value, their recourse to QMV, and
their contribution to the increased coherence of EU policies.
It also explores the steps that should be taken to improve the
implementation and development of Common Strategies in the future".
21.5 There are three Common Strategies, covering Russia,
the Ukraine and the
21.6 The report reviews 2001 and concludes that:
- "visible, but limited" progress has been made on
- overall consistency and continuity has clearly improved, due
to enhanced co-ordination of the work plans drawn up by the Swedish,
Belgian and Spanish Presidencies;
- there has been a greater concentration on a smaller number
of priority areas; and
- inter-pillar cohesion has been strengthened.
21.7 However, some deficiencies remain. The strategies:
- have been used as tools of public diplomacy, rather than as
internal policy instruments;
- are too broad in scope; and
- are little more than an inventory of existing policies and
the value they add is limited.
- it has not been possible to measure progress in ensuring and
improving coherence between actions taken by the EU and those
taken by Member States;
- the Common Strategies have not led to CFSP decision-making
by QMV. Only one of the 20 Joint Actions adopted in 2001 refers
to a Common Strategy, and it was adopted by unanimity.
21.9 The report points out that, at the same time, the
EU has made considerable progress in developing its foreign policy,
its crisis management and its conflict rehabilitation capabilities
in areas not covered by Common Strategies, such as the
Western Balkans, the fight against terrorism and the Middle East.
21.10 The third section of the report sets out how the
existing Common Strategies could be improved. It recommends that;
- the work plans should be replaced by multi-presidency works
plans to improve continuity and to prioritise and limit new policy
issues. Areas for agreement by QMV could be identified;
- a fundamental review of the Common Strategy with Russia should
21.11 The report comments that when the existing Common
Strategies have been "overhauled" and lessons learnt,
the EU will be in a position to consider whether Common Strategies
would be appropriate in other areas. It says they:
"will be more credible if used to develop a limited specific
foreign policy objective, with the priorities and value-added
identified in advance and the necessary budgetary and policy means
linked directly with it. Moreover, any Common Strategy should
be focussed on operational aspects and give practical value by
introducing the possibility of QMV decisions in an area up to
now exclusively governed by unanimity".
The Government's view
21.12 The Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) says that
the Government welcomes the report and adds:
"We consider that the EU continues to carry out a large
amount of successful activities under the Common Strategies. However,
we recognise that the Common Strategies themselves need further
improvement to be effective. The UK supports efforts to do this.
The report helpfully suggests ways to make Common Strategies a
more useful tool. The General Affairs Council on 28 January endorsed
the report and welcomed the commitment by Solana and Patten to
work together on the future of the instrument."
21.13 We agree with the Minister's comments. The Common
Strategies could be made more effective, but they have been useful
in bringing together the, sometimes disparate, policies of the
Member States towards the area concerned. Some, such as the Common
Mediterranean Strategy, have possibly been too ambitious in attempting
to cover such a wide area and there may be a case for a closer
focus by dividing the area, treating the Middle East separately.
Some have proved elusive. The Common Strategy on the Balkans has
yet to see the light of day.
21.14 We now clear this document but ask the Government
to keep us informed of developments and to deposit the annual
review which the February 2001 General Affairs Council called
on the Council to produce.
majority voting. Back
7073/3/99; see HC 34-xxi (1998-99), paragraph 17 (26 May 1999). Back
- ; see HC 23-iv (1999-2000), paragraph 1 (15 December 1999). Back
- ; see HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 31 (15 November 2000). Back