Documents considered by the Committee on 15 September 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

25   EU and Georgia: EU Monitoring Mission





Council Decision amending Joint Action 2008/736/CFSP establishing a civilian European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) monitoring mission in Georgia

Council Decision amending Joint Action 2008/736/CFSP on the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia, EUMM Georgia

Legal baseArticles 28 and 43(2) TEU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of consideration(a) EM of 28 June 2010

(b) EM of 23 July 2010

Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (30749) —: HC 19-xxiv (2008-09), chapter 9 (15 July 2009) and (29944) —: HC 16-xxx (2007-08), chapter 18 (8 October 2008)
To be discussed in Council26 July 2010 Foreign Affairs Council

To be determined

Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


25.1  Two years ago, the then Minister for Europe (Mr Jim Murphy) began his 12 September 2008 Explanatory Memorandum on what became the present Joint Action by noting that:

"on 7 August Georgian Armed Forces attacked Tshskinvali [sic], the de facto 'capital' of South Ossetia. Russian armed forces reacted with massive force, widely condemned as disproportionate, including by the EU, NATO and G7 Foreign Ministers. Fighting continued between 8 and 12 August, when the EU and Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) brokered a ceasefire."

25.2  He went on to say that the ceasefire, known as the 6-point Agreement, contained the principles that:

—  the parties not to resort to the use of force;

—  the parties to stop all military actions for good;

—  the parties to allow free access for humanitarian aid;

—  Georgian armed forces to return to their places of usual permanent deployment;

—  Russian armed forces to withdraw to the line they occupied before the start of military actions. Until such time as an international mechanism is created, Russian peacekeeping forces to implement additional security measures;

—  the parties to engage in international discussions on the modalities of security and stability in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

25.3  The then Minister noted, however, that:

"Despite this plan, on 26 August Russia unilaterally recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and refused to withdraw its forces from Georgia. The European Council on 1 September unanimously condemned this, and expressed its grave concern about the consequences of the conflict and Russia's disproportionate military action."

25.4  He then noted that, on 8 September, President Sarkozy, EU Commission President Barroso and then EU High Representative Solana travelled to Moscow "to press Russia to abide by its commitments." He went on to say that:

"They secured agreement to a supplementary set of commitments to the six point Agreement, giving detail on implementation and specifying timelines. The EU committed to deploying at least 200 observers into the areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia by 1 October. Russia would then have 10 days to withdraw its forces to their positions prior to the outbreak of hostilities."

Joint Action 2008/736/CFSP

25.5  Against this background, this Joint Action established a civilian European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) monitoring mission in Georgia, called EUMM Georgia. The then Minister explained that the mission established would:

—  monitor the Parties' actions, including full compliance with the 6-point Agreement and subsequent implementing measures;

—  deploy on a country-wide basis throughout Georgia, and aim to contribute to stabilisation, normalisation and confidence-building;

—  also help to inform European policy in support of a durable political solution for Georgia;

—  begin deployment in September, with the operational phase beginning no later than 1 October, in line with the 8 September agreement.

25.6  The Mission's tasks would, he said, include:

—  stabilisation: monitoring, analysing and reporting on compliance with the 6-point Agreement, including troop withdrawals, freedom of movement and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law;

—  normalisation: monitoring, analysing and reporting on the normalisation of civil governance, including the rule of law, public order, security of transport links, energy infrastructure and utilities, and return of Internally Displaced Persons and refugees;

—  confidence-building: contributing to reducing tensions, including through liaison and facilitation of contacts between parties;

—  informing the EU's role in connection with the negotiations that will start in Geneva on 15 October on future international presences in Georgia.

25.7  The then Minister welcomed the Joint Action and endorsed its tasks. He explained that Member States were clear that the mission should deploy throughout Georgia, including South Ossetia and Abkhazia; the initial priority was to meet the EU's commitment to put 200 monitors into the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but the mission would expand its area of deployment as soon as possible; co-ordination with other international actors would be important — the OSCE had 8 military monitors deployed to South Ossetia, and was negotiating on the deployment of a further 100, while the UN Observer Mission to Georgia (UNOMIG) — an unarmed military observation mission of around 150 personnel — was the lead international presence in Abkhazia and in the adjacent area as defined under its mandate; the EU mission would bring civilian monitoring expertise.

25.8  With regard to the Financial Implications, the then Minister explained that funding for common costs (mission headquarters, in-country transport, office equipment etc) would be met from the Common Foreign and Security Policy budget, to which the UK currently contributed approximately 17%; with a projected budget for the first 12 months of € 31.5 million, the UK would contribute approximately €5.4 million Euros (then £4.3 million); plus 20 personnel, the funding for which would come from the Whitehall Peacekeeping Budget.

25.9  Finally, the then Minister said that the Joint Action would be adopted at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 15 September.

25.10  In an accompanying letter of 12 September 2008, the then Minister explained that the need to deploy the 200 EU monitors by 1 October to the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as agreed in Moscow on 8 September, had obliged him to over-ride Parliamentary scrutiny in this instance. The previous Committee accepted the Minister's explanation in these circumstances, and cleared the document.[111]

25.11  The mission mandate was due to expire on 15 September 2009. In her accompanying Explanatory Memorandum of 8 July 2009, the then Minister for Europe (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead) said that, in the previous few months, "the international community's footprint" in Georgia had been significantly diminished. The OSCE monitoring mission had ceased operations following Russia's refusal to join consensus on renewing the mandate. In June, Russia had also vetoed the renewal of the mandate of the UN Monitoring Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and it was in the process of drawing down. This left EUMM as the only remaining international monitoring mission in Georgia, with implications for its future security and operations. It was, the then Minister said, even more important that the mission remained, "both as a means to reduce tensions between all parties to the August 2008 conflict and as a sign of engagement from the international community." As the only international mission, EUMM's presence was "vital to ensure that the parties abide by the Sarkozy/Medvedev agreement." This supported the UK objective of conflict prevention. The then Government had "successfully argued that the mission's mandate should be renewed largely unchanged" as it was "both comprehensive and flexible, leaving the option for EUMM to adjust operations to cover tasks previously carried out by UNOMIG, as appropriate."

25.12  The then Minister went on to note that EUMM Georgia had had "a positive impact" since deployment ("more than 3000 patrols, including night patrols, monitoring incidents and maintaining visibility along the administrative boundary lines with South Ossetia and Abkhazia"); this had helped to defuse tensions and prevent a return to large-scale conflict. It had also been successful in building confidence, including negotiating two Memoranda of Understanding with the Georgian Ministries of Interior and Defence to increase transparency and to limit the number of forces and weapons in the areas neighbouring the two breakaway regions. The mission had also put resources into building a strong relationship with the Georgian community and helped to create the conditions for the return of around 30,000 Internally Displaced Persons. The mission continued to engage as far as possible with the Russian government and the de facto South Ossetian and Abkhaz authorities, which had had some success, especially through the establishment of local Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms, as mandated by the Geneva talks. But the mission had still not been granted access to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which impeded the ability of the mission to carry out its mandate in full. The UK continued to press Russia and the breakaway regions to allow the mission access throughout the territory of Georgia.

25.13  Turning to the Financial Implications, and recalling that the mission is funded from the CFSP budget, to which the UK contributed approximately 17%, the then Minister said:

"This covers the mission's running costs (HQ, in country transport and office equipment etc) to support the Sarkovy/Medvedev agreement to have at least 200 monitors on the ground. Joint Action 2008/736/CFSP provided a financial reference amount of €37,100,000 to cover the expenditure related to the Mission until 14 September 2009.

"It has been proposed that the additional funds required by EUMM Georgia to cover operational expenditure until 14 September 2010 be added to the above commitment: this addition, covering a period of 12 months, amounts to €12.5 million, making the budget for the full EUMM Georgia operation to 14 September 2010 a total of €49.6 million. This additional commitment should be made in two stages, with €9 million to be committed after the adoption of the related Joint Action and the remaining amount in 2010, subject to proof of the financial needs for the operation. The proposed financial reference amount is currently being discussed in Brussels.

"The UK has 11 secondees in the mission, funded through the Tri-departmental (FCO, MOD and DfID) Conflict Prevention Pool."

25.14  Finally, the then Minister said that the Joint Action to extend the mission's mandate would be adopted at the 27 July 2009 General Affairs and External Relations Council.

The previous Committee's assessment

25.15  At the Extraordinary European Council meeting on 1 September 2008, in response to Russian actions, the Council had suspended negotiations with Russia on a new EU Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) and decided to conduct a comprehensive review of EU-Russia relations, which would continue up to the next EU-Russia Summit in Nice on 14 November 2008, and would (in the words of Mr Murphy) "allow us to take a considered decision about the future of EU-Russia relations." By the time that Summit came, the Council had decided to resume negotiations on the PCA, though the then Minister for Europe (Caroline Flint) told the previous Committee that this did not denote "business as usual" or "a turning of the page on Georgia"; the then Government would "continue to insist on full implementation of the ceasefire agreements and their cooperation in the ceasefire talks".

25.16   In clearing the document, the previous Committee noted that:

—  the past six months seemed to have been a case of a different sort of "business as usual", with large parts of the EU deprived of energy supplies in the height of winter and, then, Russia welcoming a new US President by staging the largest military exercise in the north Caucasus since the end of the cold war;

—  a PCA presupposed the possibility of "win/win"; Russia instead continued to see relations on the basis of zero sum and "divide and rule", with some EU Member States seemingly only too happy to oblige if it guaranteed them energy supplies;

—  in this particular context, EUMM Georgia had fallen foul of this wider context of power politics;

—  it was nonetheless, as the then Minister said, the only show in a volatile town.[112]

The Council Decision of July 2010

25.17  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 28 June 2010, the Minister for Europe (David Lidington) explains that:

—   this Council Decision would increase EUMM Georgia's financial reference amount of the European Union Monitoring Mission by €2.5 million, to cover shortfalls in the budget required to cover mission activities until the end of the current mandate on 14 September 2010;

—   without it, the mission would run out of funding at the end of July, which was not in the interests of the UK or the region;

—  the additional funding would be used to cover unexpected changes in staffing costs (the majority of the funding increase), due to:

  • an increase in per diems (the daily fee paid to all mission staff from the CFSP budget), which had been brought about by a combination of the depreciation of the Euro against the US dollar and the reference being UN US dollar-denominated per diem;
  • a higher level of staff deployment than originally estimated;
  • an increase in the number of monitoring patrols and communications equipment.

25.18  A small proportion of this increase, the Minister further explains, will fund 29 additional local staff, which includes ten interpreters, required to ensure that all patrols have interpreters on hand; and 18 cleaners and support staff, who were previously contracted, but whom the mission has had to bring in line with European Commission regulations and local conditions.

25.19  The Minister also explains that:

  • the cost to the UK will be around €340,000 (£290,000), based on the UK's 13.6 % contribution to the overall 2010 EU budget (which includes the CFSP budget);
  • the UK currently provides funding for 14 personnel in the Mission.

The Minister's letter of 20 July 2010

25.20  Noting that: the Committee was not formed as anticipated when he submitted his Explanatory Memorandum; the document had still not cleared scrutiny at the time of writing; if the additional funding was not agreed at the 26 July Foreign Affairs Council the mission would run out of money and cease to function, the Minister says that "for pressing operational reasons" he proposes to agree this Decision at that Council.

The further Council Decision

25.21  This Council Decision extends the EUMM Georgia mandate for one year until 14 September 2011, as well as setting out €26.6 million of funding for this period.

25.22  In his accompanying Explanatory Memorandum of 23 July 2010, the Minister for Europe (David Lidington) says that the Decision:

"makes minimal changes to the mandate of the mission and EUMM will continue to monitor the terms of the 12 August and 8 September 2008 ceasefire agreements and implementing measures, and contribute to the long term stability of Georgia and the South Caucasus as a whole."

25.23  He also notes that the detailed planning documents which underpin the Council Decision have been revised to include "the following minor changes to deepen mission engagement":

  • creation of a fact finding team to assist in the investigation of alleged incidents, particularly on the administrative boundary lines;
  • language to reflect the mission's work building mutual confidence between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia; and
  • language to reflect specific work on confidence building.

The Government's view

25.24   The Minister goes on to comment as follows:

"Ever since it deployed in September 2008 to monitor the implementation of the Agreements of 12 August and 8 September 2008, EUMM has contributed significantly to the overall EU effort towards conflict resolution in Georgia. The stability along the Administrative Boundary Lines (ABLs) with Abkhazia and South Ossetia has improved and the mission's involvement in Incident Prevention and Resolution Mechanisms continues to defuse tensions over minor incidents before they have the opportunity to escalate. Moreover, the significance of EUMM has increased as the only international monitoring presence in the area, following the withdrawal of the UN and OSCE missions in June 2009.

"The Government supports the extension of the mandate for one year as the EUMM plays an invaluable role preventing conflict and improving the long-term stability of Georgia and the region. The mission serves as a reminder that the EU considers the status quo in Georgia to be unacceptable. Further, the one year mandate extension also maintains international attention on the conflict.

"The UK has consistently pushed for Russia to meet its commitments outlined in the Sarkozy-Medvedev Agreements, including access for EUMM to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. However, despite the mission continuing its 'knocking on the door' policy, access has not been granted with the breakaway territories. The mission therefore remains unable to fulfil its mandate and its 'normalisation' activities have had less success than hoped. The Operations Plan, which underpins the Council Decision, sets out how the mission will work to build mutual confidence, and create favourable conditions for engagement between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Further, as part of its work on confidence building, language has been updated in the Operations Plan to reflect EUMM's role as a facilitator between the de facto authorities and the Georgian Government, to resolve issues and incidents related to freedom of movement across the ABLs.

"To have increased impact, it is essential that the mission deepens its engagement in theatre. The creation of a fact finding team, which will be composed of existing staff with detective and forensic expertise to monitor cases of detentions and disappearances on an ad-hoc basis in the breakaway territories, will increase the depth of EUMM's work on stabilisation. Allegations of arbitrary detentions by both sides have been a source of tension in the past 12 months, so this is a welcome move by EUMM. It is vital that the mission continues to coordinate with the various international players in theatre, and the Operations Plan sets out greater coordination with the EU delegation."

25.25  With regard to the Financial Implications, the Minister says:

  • with the UK contributing 13.6 per cent to the overall EU budget in 2010 (which budget includes the CFSP budget), and assuming that this is indicative of the UK contribution to the CFSP component, the cost to the UK of the €26.6 million extension over the one-year period will be around €3.6 million (£2.96 million);
  • in discussions on the mission's budget, "officials have pushed for more realistic budget planning, including greater accuracy and discipline in budget management; and
  • the UK currently provides funding for 14 personnel in the Mission.

25.26  Finally, the Minster says that this Council Decision has been delayed, pending Parliamentary scrutiny; that it may be adopted by written procedure (as there are no Councils before existing funding runs out on 14 September) during the Parliamentary Recess; and that "officials are currently negotiating the exact date."

25.27  The Council Decision was in fact adopted by the 26 July 2010 Foreign Affairs Council.[113]


25.28  No questions arise on either Council Decision, which we now clear.

25.29  We are again reporting them to the House because of the widespread interest in the situation in the north Caucasus.

25.30  In so doing, we express our disappointment that, having written to the Committee to explain why he felt obliged to agree to the adoption of the first Council Decision at the 26 July FAC, the Minister did not do likewise in connection with the much more important second Council Decision. Nonetheless, on this occasion and in the circumstances he describes, we do not object to the Minister's course of action in agreeing to their adoption.

111   See headnote: (29944) -: HC 16-xxx (2007-08), chapter 18 (8 October 2008). Back

112   See headnote: (30749) - : HC 19-xxiv (2008-09), chapter 9 (15 July 2009). Back

113   See for details. For further information on EUMM Georgia, see  Back

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