Today, we work with or through the EU on many foreign policy issues. I and the Government believe that we are stronger for it and the world is better for it, too. In the last 12 months, for example, the EU has imposed sanctions on Iran and Zimbabwe beyond those imposed by the UN; mobilised more aid for Palestine than ever before; put 2,000 troops on the ground in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo in support of the UN; found €54 million for Iraq; provided financial backing for the African Union mission in Darfur; deployed a stabilisation force to neighbouring Chad to protect refugees from the crisis; delivered emergency aid in Pakistan; and shown genuine solidarity with us over Litvinenko, the closure of British Council offices in Russia and Irans seizure of UK naval personnel.
Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): The Foreign Secretary referred to a number of amendments and I am happy to admit that I tabled some of them for a very good reason. Would he accept that, although proper co-operation can be achieved within the framework of an organisation such as the European Union, there is a world of difference between that co-operation and the degree of co-ordination being established within a legal framework, which has been accompanied by mistakes such as those seen in the disarray over a whole raft of matters from Iraq and Kosovos standing to many others, where the EU is demonstrating that it cannot meet the challenges that he mentioned?
David Miliband: I believe that the legal framework is being established to strengthen the co-operation that the hon. Gentleman says he supports. Whatever our different views about Iraq, I do not think that the situation there can be put at the door of the European Union.
For the future, we need a European Union not as an alternative to UK foreign policy, but as one means for its implementation. That is why the Government have set out their vision for a global Europe and why we support aspects of the treaty that seek carefully to enhance the existing common foreign and security policy.
David Miliband: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Some specific references have been added in respect of NATO, which give added assurance to those willing to look into the issue with an open mind that the development of European policy can complement NATO rather than rival it.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind:
I agree with the Foreign Secretary that when western European countries genuinely agree with each other on some matter of vital foreign interest, it is highly desirable and beneficial that they should work together. However, will not he agree, on reflection, that his statement yesterday that the cobbled-together
EU statement on Kosovo showed clear political leadership by the European Union was absurd? The issue of Kosovo showed the deepest division on a common foreign policy issue since the divisions on Iraq. He does no service to the genuine desire for European co-operation when he describes a failure to achieve European agreement as if it were a success.
David Miliband: I am surprised to find myself disagreeing on this point with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It would only have been a failure if it were for the European Union to recognise the new country of Kosovo. There are divisions within EU countries about whether or not to recognise Kosovo, but it is a matter for individual countries to decide. The matter at hand for the EU is not about recognition and I am sure that he would agree with me that it would be quite wrong to move into a world where the EU starts recognising countries when it is in fact a responsibility of member states. In matters that are the responsibility of the EUfirst, the deployment of a European mission; secondly, the partnership arrangements between all the countries of the western Balkans; and thirdly, the ultimate objective of EU membershipthere should be and is European cohesion.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Does the Foreign Secretary not realise that he is compounding his own foolishness in this respect? How can he seriously argue that a coherent European policy on Kosovo can be achieved when many EU countries have recognised it as an independent state but the remaining EU countries still consider it to be part of Serbia? How can that provide the basis of a common European foreign policy?
David Miliband: Fifteen countries, including the UK, recognised the new country of Kosovo within 72 hours of its creation. I would be happy to lay a wager with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that in due course many more European countries will recognise it. We will see if one or two do not recognise it, but as I explained, it must be a matter for individual nation states to decide on recognition. He is only compounding his error, if I may say so, by confusing the responsibility of the European Union with the responsibilities of nation states.
Mr. Jenkin: I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for giving way to me again, but on that basis, on whose authority did Javier Solana, the high representative of the European Union, visit Kosovo yesterday and announce that it is a good friend of the EU? Of course that does not constitute legal recognition of the independent status of Kosovo, but it is tantamount to it, and demonstrates the dynamic that the high representative gives the foreign policy under which, as he said, 15 states have recognised Kosovo. Is the Foreign Secretary in favour of qualified majority voting on that basis?
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman, who studies these questions carefully, should destroy his own argument in seeking to make it. Mr. Solanas visit was on the back of the agreement of the 27 to the statement made at the European General Affairs and External Relations Council on Monday, and was all the better for that. Whatever ones view of the timing of
recognition, the idea that the European Union should not be a friend of Kosovo strikes me as very odd indeed.
Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): Is it not bizarre that Opposition Members should first complain that European Union countries, including ours, are drilled and forced into agreeing with each other on some issue, and then complain that they are not being drilled in that way? Does that not demonstrate a huge absence of consistency and intelligence among that lot over there?
David Miliband: As ever, my right hon. Friend speaks with precision and accuracy on these matters, and I entirely agree with him. Unfortunately, the laughter of Opposition Members suggests that they do not recognise the ridiculous position in which they have put themselves.
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): I had the privilege, if that is the right word, of being the Minister responsible for the Balkans for five years. We welcome the presence of European Commissioners, Mr. Solana and everyone else in Pristina and all the related lands, and the idea that there should be any criticism of that strikes me as absurd. However, ever since the treaty of Lisbon has been up for debate, I have been told repeatedly that it meant a common foreign policy that would wipe away the autonomy of the nation states of Europe. Spain has just said Whoa! We cannot agree to recognise Kosovo. Where is this steamroller telling the nation states of Europe what their policies should be? The Conservative party is in Alice in Wonderland country.
The treaty does not, repeat not, change the fundamental nature of common foreign and security policy co-operation. That continues to be covered in a separate treaty, subjectas is stated in the treaty for the first timeto specific rules and procedures. The treaty includes an articleagain, it appears for the first timeunderlining those distinct arrangements: unanimity as the general rule so a veto for all countries, no legislative acts, and a limited role for Community institutions.
highly likely that, under the Lisbon Treaty, the Common Foreign and Security Policy will remain an intergovernmental area, driven by the Member States.
the largely intergovernmental nature of the CFSP and ESDP will be maintained, with no significant departures from the arrangements which currently apply.
The treaty will make the European Council responsible for setting the EUs strategic priorities for all external action, thereby underlining member states lead responsibility for setting the EU's foreign policy. It will strengthen the coherence of the EU's external action through a high representative, appointed by Heads of State and Heads of Government and straddling the work of the Commission and the CFSP.
The treaty will bring together existing Commission and Council officials, augmented by member state secondees, into a single external action service to support the high representative, whose work will be governed by 27 nation states, and it will set clear objectives to guide all areas of external action.
Mr. Harper: The Foreign Secretary said earlier that the EUs foreign policy would complement that of this country. I know he believes that our relationships with both NATO and the United States are key to our foreign policy, so why does the document presented by the Slovenian presidency and published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the EUs external relations make no mention of either of those relationships? They were mentioned in the document produced by the last presidency, but have been expunged from this one. That does not sound very complementary to me.
David Miliband: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the details in the treaty that have been added precisely in respect of NATO, for example. For the first time, a treaty will be peppered with references to NATO, which I hope will bring a smile to his face as well as to mine.
Gordon Banks (Ochil and South Perthshire) (Lab): The Foreign Secretary has listed a number of aspects of security policy in the treaty. Will he tell us what is NATOs take on the ESDP, and also whether he considers European common defence policy or NATO to be the cornerstone of Europes future defence?
David Miliband: Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Secretary-General of NATO, has made clear his welcome for the increased capability envisaged in the treaty, but also for the EUs ability to complement NATO activity. It is in those areas that we should see progress. Although the cornerstone of our defence is NATO, I believe the development and effect of the ESDP can help us to make that progress.
Let me deal first with the establishment of the position of high representative. At present there are two separate roles. The high representative works for the member states, while the External Relations Commissioner works for the Council. In addition, the Foreign Minister of the member state holding the six-month rotating presidencycurrently Slovenia, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr. Harper)is responsible for chairing the ministerial meetings. That can be confusing, so the Lisbon treaty merges the roles into a new job, which will give the EU a more coherent voice internationally.
Article 13a of the Lisbon treaty sets out the role and responsibilities of the proposed high representative. He or she will chair the Foreign Affairs Council and ensure effective implementation of the decisions made. He or she will also represent the agreed position of the EU on common foreign and security policy matters, conducting political dialogueagain, when there is unanimous agreement on an EU positionwith third parties. He or she will also be able to set out the agreed EU position in international organisations and at international conferences.
Mr. Cash: Does the Foreign Secretary accept that the problems in practice begin to emerge when a joint action plan is agreed on the basis of unanimity, but that is followed by a move to qualified majority voting?
David Miliband: I will come to the relationship between a specific request from the European Councilthe Heads of Governmentand an implementing measure presented by the high representative. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will address precisely that point, but this is not quite the right moment to do so.
The high representative will be the servant of the Council of Ministers on CFSP matters. He or she will be appointed by national Governments, and will be responsible to them through the Council. The high representative will be able to propose new CFSP initiatives, but in addition to rather than instead of member states, and it will still be the Councilrepresenting the 27 countries of the EUrather than the high representative that makes decisions. In short, Britain will continue to decide on its own foreign policy, and where we agree with others in the EU, there can be a common European role in helping to deliver it.
Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): Should not the House be given the details of the position taken by the Government in the European Convention on the constitution in respect of clauses that are identical in the Lisbon treaty? When I raised the matter with the Leader of the House during business questions about 10 days ago, she graciously appeared to accept the point. She said that she would contact the Foreign Secretary and ask him to table, for the purpose of future debates, the position taken by the Government in the European Convention on clauses that are now in the Lisbon treaty, which we are about to debate. Has he done that? Has he discussed the matter with the Leader of the House, and if not, why not?
David Miliband: I am sorry if this has not been transmitted to the right hon. Gentleman, but the details of all the Convention discussions are available on the Conventions website. There is no hidden agenda in this respect. I assure him that there is a very clear answer to his question.
Mr. Lilley: The Foreign Secretary is a comparatively new Member of the House. There is a convention that Government documents reflecting Government policy are tabled in this House, so that we do not have to go through the Convention website line by line and download them all.
David Miliband: Although I am extremely new to this House, I know that we table documents that are relevant to the treaty and legislation that we are discussing. We do not table documents to do with historic discussions and treaties that are no longer on the table.
Mr. Clappison: I think that the Foreign Secretary will find that the clear answer to which he just referred is that the Government did not want the two posts to merge. Apart from the change of name, is there any difference in substance between what was envisaged in the original constitutiona Union Minister for foreign affairsand the high representative envisaged in the Lisbon treaty? What is the substantive difference, apart from the name change?
David Miliband: There are several differences. I hope that I will not bore the hon. Gentleman, but I want to read out two new detailed and important treaty articles that might directly address his fears.
The common foreign and security policy is subject to specific rules and procedures.