European Scrutiny Committee Contents


12   EU Special Representative for Kosovo


(32505)


Council Decision extending the mandate of the European Union Special Representative for Kosovo

Legal baseArticles 28, 31 (2 ) and 33 TEU; QMV
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 11 February 2011 and Minister's letter of 15 February 2011
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (31844) —, (31857-66) — and (31884) —: HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 66 (8 September 2010); and (31677)—: HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 4 (8 September 2010)
To be discussed in Council21 February 2011 Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Background

12.1  EU Special Representatives (EUSRs) are appointed to represent Common Foreign and Security Policy where the Council agrees that an additional EU presence on the ground is needed to deliver the political objectives of the Union. They were established under the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty and are appointed by the Council. The aim of the EUSRs is to represent the EU in troubled regions and countries and to play an active part in promoting the interests and the policies of the EU.

12.2  An EUSR is appointed by Council through the legal act of a Council Decision (formerly a Joint Action). The substance of his or her mandate depends on the political context of the deployment. Some provide, inter alia, a political backing to an ESDP operation; others focus on carrying out or contribute to developing an EU policy. Some EUSRs are resident in their country or region of activity; others work on a travelling basis from Brussels.

12.3  All EUSRs carry out their duties under the authority and operational direction of the High Representative (HR; Baroness Catherine Ashton); and, where "double hatted" (i.e., also in charge of, originally a Commission, now an EU, delegation), under her authority as a Vice President of the Commission. EUSR activity is financed out of the EU budget. Member States can and do also contribute directly e.g. through seconding some of the EUSR's staff members.

12.4  The European Union currently has 11 EUSRs dealing with 12 areas (one EUSR carries out two functions): Afghanistan, the African Great Lakes Region, the African Union, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central Asia, Georgia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, the Middle East, Moldova, the South Caucasus and Sudan.

12.5  Mandates are normally for 12 months, February to February. But the previous ones were shorter, until 31 August 2010, to take account of the planned establishment by then of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the possibility that the tasks of at least some of them would be absorbed into it. Some of the mandates cleared by the Committee on 8 September 2010 were for a further six-month period, reflecting a combination of delay in establishing the EEAS and that continuing prospect.

12.6  The Council Decision concerning the present mandates and some of the history and activities of each EUSR was helpfully summarised and commented upon by the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) in his Explanatory Memorandum of 2 August 2010.

12.7  In the case of the EUSR Kosovo, the appointment of Pieter Feith was extended until 28 February 2011 or until the Council decides, on a proposal by the HR, that appropriate corresponding structures to those under the current decision have been established in the EEAS.

12.8  His mandate stems from the 14 December 2007 European Council having underlined the EU's readiness to play a leading role in strengthening stability in the Western Balkans, including by contributing to a European Security and Defence Policy mission and to an International Civilian Office as part of the international presences in Kosovo. Joint Action 2008/123/CFSP adopted on 4 February 2008 established an EU Special Representative for Kosovo. Kosovo declared independence on 17 February 2008.

12.9  The mandate of the EUSR is based on the objective of securing a stable, viable, peaceful and multi-ethnic Kosovo, which will contribute to regional stability. His tasks include being the channel for the EU's advice and support to the political process, promoting political coordination in Kosovo through the EU missions, ensuring a coherent public message, and contributing to the consolidation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Kosovo.

12.10  The EUSR role is currently combined with that of the International Civilian Representative (ICR) who is appointed by an International Steering Group (ISG, of which the UK is a member) and is the ultimate supervisory authority over the implementation of the UN Special Envoy's Comprehensive Settlement Proposal (Kosovo committed itself to that proposal as part of its declaration of independence). The ICR does not have a direct role in the administration of Kosovo, but retains strong corrective powers to ensure the successful implementation of the Settlement. The ICR's mandate will continue until the ISG determines that Kosovo has implemented the terms of the settlement.

12.11  The Minister fully supported maintaining the office of the EUSR in Kosovo and welcomed the continued appointment of Pieter Feith in this post. He noted Mr Feith's long track record of crisis management in both NATO and the European Union and close involvement with Kosovo since his time as a senior policy official in the NATO International Secretariat in the late 90s; his successful leadership of the EU-led Aceh Monitoring Mission in 2005 and 2006; and his appointment in 2007 as Director of the EU's Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability and as the Civilian Operation Commander for civilian ESDP missions. He said that Mr Feith had proved highly capable in his role in Kosovo, supporting development of a stable, viable and prosperous Kosovo as it worked towards its European perspective. In particular he had contributed to efforts to hold free and fair elections in line with international standards, reached out to the non-majority community and supported dialogue in the field of religious and cultural heritage. He was, the Minister judged, very well placed to continue to provide strategic policy leadership to the international community effort in Kosovo and to work closely with the NATO and EU missions there. His double-hatting as the ICR had proved highly effective, adding authority and political influence to enable the EUSR to achieve the EU's objectives.

12.12  With regard to the financial aspects, the Minister said that a total allocation of €1,230,000 had been proposed for the period of the mandate (1 September 2010 until 28 February 2011); this was, he noted, €430,000 less than the budget for the current 6 month period, predominantly due to reduced requirement for capital expenditure and for the contingency reserve, and despite a proposed increase in staff of five.

12.13  In a separate letter, the Minister noted that the Council Decision (and the others) would be agreed by written procedure on 8 August 2010 so that the further mandates would be in place before the current ones expired on 31 August 2010. He explained that the first, early, draft documents had not received until 13 July, which had prevented him from submitting them for scrutiny before the summer recess. He would, he said, continue to press strongly in Brussels, including with the High Representative, for a more timely issue of documents in the future, in line with his being "fully committed to the rigorous parliamentary oversight of the Government's policy in the EU."

Our assessment

12.14  We had no questions concerning the extension of Mr Feith's mandate, which we cleared.

12.15  However, we noted, the Committee had once again left reporting a fait accompli to the House. We noted that, with the timeline known long ago, these mandate renewals must have been in discussion for some months. Since no major changes were involved, we saw no good reason why the draft texts could not have been produced much sooner. The next time any mandates came up for renewal, we said that we would expect both full and timely information—i.e., in time to scrutinise any proposal and raise any relevant questions before it was adopted. This should, we said, apply particularly to any Council Decision to end an EUSR's mandate and incorporate it into the activity of the EEAS.

12.16  Against this background, we drew attention to press reports that, at the July Foreign Affairs Council, it was decided to end four mandates from February 2011, including those of the EUSRs to the South Caucasus and to the MEPP (the others being those to Macedonia and Moldova); and that the Council had been unable to reach any agreement on the position of the ICR/EUSR to Kosovo. We therefore asked the Minister to explain:

—  how his concerns about the need for conflict resolution and prevention in the south Caucasus to be undertaken by someone based outside the region had been resolved and, now a decision had been taken to end the mandate in February 2011, how he would be able to ensure that this role would be adequately covered and that the person selected to perform it would have (as the Minister had put it) "sufficient seniority and experience to establish the level of access and influence necessary to have an impact on key players";

—  if the EUSR and High Representative were key to driving EU policy on resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, the rationale behind abolishing this EUSR post;

—  given his strong endorsement of both the role of the ICR/EUSR Kosovo and the present incumbent, what had held up agreement in the Council regarding his mandate.[49]

The draft Council Decision

12.17  The present Council Decision would extend the mandate of Mr Peter Feith for a further two months, until 30 April 2011.

The Government's view

12.18   In his Explanatory Memorandum of 11 February 2011, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) describes the proposed extension as "a pragmatic way of ensuring political continuity of EU expertise and visibility in Kosovo as the EEAS seeks to finalise its plans for an enhanced EU presence in Kosovo within the framework provided by the Lisbon Treaty." He says that the EEAS is confident that it can deliver a revised mandate and structure before the new expiry date of 30 April, and that he continues "to urge the EEAS to give Member States sufficient notice of the proposed changes to enable us to consult domestic Parliaments."

12.19  He then continues as follows:

"The presence of an EUSR is essential for the international community's efforts to build stability and prosperity in Kosovo and HMG will seek to ensure that the role is continued as part of the revised EEAS structure. The EUSR plays a key role in advising and encouraging the Kosovo government to drive forward the reforms necessary for Kosovo's continued progress along its European path, and in providing strategic policy leadership to the international community effort in Kosovo, in particular by giving political direction to the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).[50]

"In recent months, the EUSR has made a key contribution to efforts to hold Kosovo's first general elections since independence, including coordination of a strong international election monitoring mission. These elections were widely recognised to have been conducted in a peaceful and stable manner, and broadly in line with international standards. There were a number of irregularities and allegations of fraud, but the efficient and responsible manner with which the Central Election Commission and Constitutional Court addressed these is a further sign of Kosovo's maturing democracy and integration into the international community.

"The EUSR continues to be very active in the field of religious and cultural affairs. The Greek Ambassador Dimitris Moschopoulos has been appointed as EU facilitator and the past 6 months has seen real signs of progress. The Enthronement of the new Serbian Orthodox Church patriarch passed peacefully. The transfer of historic religious sites from KFOR protection to the Kosovo Police is proceeding steadily and successfully.

"Looking ahead, it will be important for the EUSR and the Kosovo Government to focus their attention on taking forward the much needed reforms highlighted in the 2010 Commission Progress Report on Kosovo, and in particular in relation to improving governance, fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law.

"The EUSR will also have an important role to play in supporting the upcoming EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on how to improve practical cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo and make progress towards both countries' European perspective. Recent political events in Kosovo — early general elections and subsequent re-runs — have prevented a start to the EU-facilitated dialogue. But all parties are committed to commencing as soon as possible."

12.20  The Minister concludes by noting that the extension will be funded from the budget agreed for the 1 September 2010 until 28 February 2011 mandate; and that the draft decision will be considered at the 21 February 2011 Foreign Affairs Council.

The Minister's letter of 15 February 2011

12.21  In his letter, the Minister responds to the Committee's question last September relating to Kosovo, namely:

"given [the Minister's] strong endorsement of both the role of the ICR/EUSR Kosovo and the present incumbent, what has held up agreement in the Council regarding his mandate."

12.22  He does so as follows:

"The delays have been the result of EEAS efforts to enhance the EU presence in Kosovo within the framework provided by the Lisbon Treaty. As the Comprehensive Settlement Proposal gets closer to full implementation and the EU seeks to develop its relationship with Kosovo, some rebalancing of the EUSR and ICR responsibilities is inevitable, resulting in a greater, not lesser role for the EU. That is why the EEAS is looking to increase the focus and breadth of the EU's role in Kosovo.

"In practice, this requires consideration of how the EU can strengthen the current EUSR's mandate, including its relationship with the other EU presences in Kosovo—the European Commission Liaison Office and the EU's Rule of Law Mission. I should underline here that there is currently no suggestion in Brussels that the mandate be allowed to expire or to be subsumed into the EEAS structures in Brussels.

"There are two factors that complicate this process. Firstly, the current double hatting of the EUSR mandate with that of the International Civilian Representative makes it important for the EEAS to consider the views of the International Steering Group members, and in particular those who are not EU Member States (Croatia, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and the US). Secondly, the EEAS also needs to reconcile the views of the 22 EU Member States who recognise Kosovo with the five that currently do not. This impacts for instance on the question of whether the EU can have a full "delegation" or just a "liaison office" in Pristina."

12.23  The Minister concludes his letter by apologising for not having responded earlier to the Committee's questions and by reiterating his:

—  support for the proposed extension as a pragmatic way of ensuring political continuity of EU expertise and visibility in Kosovo as the EEAS seeks to finalise its plans;

—  confidence in the EEAS's capacity to deliver a revised mandate and structure before the proposed new expiry date of 30 April;

—  view that the presence of a EUSR is essential for the international community's efforts to build stability and prosperity in Kosovo, and for the EU's efforts to assist Kosovo in its efforts to further integrate itself with the EU;

—  commitment to ensuring proper Parliamentary scrutiny of decisions regarding EUSR mandates; and

—  assurance that the FCO continues to underline with the EEAS the need to ensure timely EUSR mandate documentation and discussion.

Conclusion

12.24   We thank the Minister for this further information, and now look to him to ensure that the EEAS responds appropriately to his representations.

12.25  In the meantime, we are reporting this matter to the House because of the degree of interest in developments in Kosovo.

12.26  We now clear the Council Decision.





49   See headnote: (31844) -, (31857-66) - and (31884) -: HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 66 (8 September 2010). Back

50   For the Committee's most recent consideration of the EULEX Kosovo mandate, see (31677)-: HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 4 (8 September 2010). The record of the subsequent European Committee is available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmgeneral/euro/101115/101115s01.htm  Back


 
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