51 EU Special Representative for Afghanistan |
|Council Decision appointing the European Union Special Representative for Afghanistan
|Legal base||Articles 28, 31(2) and 33 TEU; QMV
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration||Then Minister's letter of 16 April 2010
|Previous Committee Report||HC 5-xv (2009-10), chapter 7 (24 March 2010); also see (30674) : HC 19-xix (2008-09), chapter 14 (10 June 2009) and HC 19-xxiii (2008-09), chapter 7 (8 July 2009); and (31296) : HC 5-x (2009-10), chapter 8 (9 February 2010)
|Discussed in Council||22 March 2010 Foreign Affairs Council
|Committee's assessment||Politically important
|Committee's decision||Cleared; further information requested
51.1 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
Article 1 of 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.
51.2 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. All EUSRs carry out their
duties under the authority and operational direction of the High
Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
(HR; Catherine Ashton). Each is financed out of the CFSP budget
implemented by the Commission. Member States contribute regularly
e.g. through seconding some of the EUSR's staff members.
51.3 In June 2005 the Political and Security Committee
(PSC) decided that EUSR mandates should in principle be extended
for 12 months rather than the previous arrangement of six months.
This was put into effect in February 2006. The UK supported this
proposal, as it enables extensions to be based on a more thorough
reporting cycle. The renewed mandates now also ask EUSRs to prepare
progress reports in mid-June and mandate implementation reports
51.4 The European Union currently has 12 Special
Representatives (EUSRs) dealing with: 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.
51.5 Some EUSRs are resident in their country or
region of activity, while others work on a travelling basis from
51.6 On 9 February 2010 the previous Committee considered
a number of draft Council Decisions extending their mandates.
In his accompanying Explanatory Memorandum, the then Minister
for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Chris Bryant)
explained that, the earlier decision of the PSC notwithstanding,
on this occasion the mandates were to be extended, not for the
usual 12 months, but only until 31 August 2010, or until the establishment
of the European External Action Service (EEAS), whichever was
the earlier; and that the HR intended to revert to the matter
in the light of further work on the EEAS.
51.7 The Council Decision that the then Committee
considered had extended the appointment of Mr Ettore Sequi as
the EUSR in Afghanistan. His mandate encompassed support to the
government of Afghanistan, in particular in the implementation
of the EU-Afghanistan Joint Declaration, support to the United
Nations in Afghanistan, liaison with regional countries in support
of EU policy, supporting the EU's work on human rights and coordination
of EU work in Afghanistan.
51.8 In her accompanying Explanatory Memorandum of
25 January 2009, the then Minister for Europe at the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office (Caroline Flint) said:
the EU and Afghanistan's
partnership was defined by the Strasbourg Declaration of 16 November
2005, with the joint commitments in this Declaration being kept
under review by periodic meetings between the Afghan government
and the EU;
EU (specifically, the European Commission and Member States) was
a major donor to Afghanistan, having disbursed or pledged $7.5bn
between 2002 and 2011, including over $5bn of pledges in support
of the Afghan National Development Strategy at the Paris conference
in June 2008;
Member States provided approximately 16,000 troops to International
Security Assistance Force;
EU launched its Police Mission to Afghanistan (EUPOL) in June
EU Special Representative would continue to play an important
role in focusing the EU effort, and ensuring that it dovetailed
with the work of other bilateral and multilateral partners;
Afghan government and international partners, particularly the
UN, continued to insist upon the need for greater international
coordination in Afghanistan; and
view of the many challenges facing the country in 2009, particularly
the Presidential elections and the difficult security situation
in the south and east of the country, the need for effective international
engagement was even greater.
51.9 Then, in June and July 2009, the previous Committee
considered a further proposal to amend the mandate to include
Pakistan. In her Explanatory Memorandum of 3 June 2009, the then
Minister for Europe said that the decision to extend EUSR Sequi's
mandate to include Pakistan "reflects the direction of international
debate on Afghanistan and broader regional challenges, particularly
on Pakistan", and "also chimes with a message that the
UK has been consistently delivering in the EU, that we need to
be better equipped to address the regional dimension of policy
on Afghanistan, particularly Pakistan." The then Minister
supported the extension of the mandate to include Pakistan on
the grounds that the Government had been "pushing the EU
to increase its engagement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and
to see the problems in both countries as interlinked", in
line with the new US strategy, which had similarly refocused its
Afghanistan policy to include Pakistan, and included the appointment
of Richard Holbrooke as US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan,
and subsequent appointments of various other 'Af/Pak' Special
Envoys, "all of which highlight the international communities
[sic] focus on the links between instability in both countries."
The previous Committee's assessment
51.10 The previous Committee had no wish to hold
up this amendment, and accordingly cleared the document, which
it reported to the House because of the widespread interest in
the subject matter. But it had a number of questions for the then
Minister, to which she responded in a letter of 30 June 2009,
and which was reported that to the House in its Report of 8 July
The latest mandate extension
51.11 In commenting on this latest extension of EUSR
Sequi's mandate, the then Minister for Europe (Chris Bryant) noted
that there might be a change in the candidate for this role. He
then commented as follows:
"The Government supports the extension of this
mandate because of the important role of the EU in Afghanistan.
The EU and Afghanistan's partnership, defined by the Strasbourg
Declaration of 16 November 2005, means that EU commitments are
kept under review by periodic meetings between the Afghan government
and the EU. The EU is a major partner in Afghanistan, having disbursed
or pledged $7.5bn between 2002 and 2011. EU member states also
provide approximately 16,000 troops to the International Security
Assistance Force and the EU has launched an ongoing Police Mission
to Afghanistan (EUPOL) since June 2007.
"The EUSR will continue to play an important
role in focusing the EU efforts described above, and ensuring
that it dovetails with the work of other bilateral and multilateral
partners. The Afghan government and international partners, particularly
the UN, continue to place an emphasis upon the need for greater
international coordination in Afghanistan, the EUSR is a key part
of fostering this cooperation."
51.12 The previous Committee noted that the Minister
was unable to provide any financial information on this occasion.
It also understood that, Afghanistan being a major UK priority,
the Minister was pushing for a decision at the 22 February 2010
Foreign Affairs Council, and that, as well as their being a possible
new EUSR, it was expected that the mandate would be significantly
51.13 The previous Committee also understood that,
these lacunae notwithstanding, the Minister had submitted what
information was presently available in order to take account of
the impending parliamentary recess, which, regrettably, meant
that there was insufficient time between then and the 22 February
FAC for the Minister to provide this additional information.
51.14 No other questions arose, and the previous
Committee had no wish to hold up the process, so it cleared the
documents. But in so doing it asked the Minister to provide a
Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum as soon as possible with
the sort of financial information that he had provided on previous
occasions and full information about the candidate and mandate
of the EUSR for Afghanistan.
51.15 Looking further ahead, the then Committee reminded
the Minister that it would expect full and timely financial and
other relevant information when all the mandates next came up
for renewal, particularly about the way in which the EUSRs would
interact with the prospective EEAS.
51.16 It was announced on 22 February 2010 that Vygaudas
Uackas the foreign minister of Lithuania until his
resignation in January had been appointed as the European
Union's next special representative for Afghanistan and head of
its delegation in Kabul.
The further draft Council Decision
51.17 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 22 March 2010,
the then Minister for Europe said that the Foreign Affairs Council
on 22 March would confirm the appointment of Mr Uackas as
EUSR for Afghanistan from 1 April 2010. He also noted that the
mandate for the current EUSR, Ettore Sequi, expired on 31 March
51.18 The draft Council Decision said that the financial
reference amount intended to cover the expenditure related to
the mandate of the EUSR in the period from the date of
entry into force of this Decision to 31 August 2010
shall be 2,500,000. The then Minister said that the cost
of the new appointment would be met from existing EU budgets;
and that there would be no call for Member State contributions.
51.19 After briefly rehearsing some of the context,
the then Minister said that the Government supported the appointment
of Vygaudas Uackas:
"As a senior political figure, his appointment
as EUSR is a demonstration of the EU's enhanced
engagement in Afghanistan. It is also the last piece in the jigsaw
to up the international civilian effort, following the
appointment of heavyweight figures for the role of NATO Senior
Civilian Representative and the new UN Special Representative
for the Secretary General. Key to the civilian effort in Afghanistan
will be enhanced co-ordination between theses three roles."
The previous Committee's assessment
51.20 The previous Committee cleared the document.
51.21 In so doing, it noted that, although Mr Uackas'
appointment was announced by the High Representative on 22 February,
there was no mention of it in the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions
of that same day, or of Afghanistan at all.
Moreover, the HR's letter to the Council of 22 February mentioned,
en passant, the prolongation of the mandate of a further
EUSR, to Burma/Myanmar, on the same basis as the others, i.e.,
until 31 August 2010, or until the establishment of the European
External Action Service (EEAS), whichever was the earlier; the
previous Committee asked when this would be submitted for scrutiny.
51.22 The previous Committee asked the Minister to
explain more about this present process, noting that, under Article
33 TEU, it was for the HR to propose and for the Council to decide;
here, however, it would seem that an appointment had been made,
and announced to the world, with no sign of discussion in the
Council; and that the Council and thus this Committee's
role was now to rubber stamp it.
51.23 The previous Committee also noted that, contrary
to what he said in his 3 February Explanatory Memorandum, the
then Minister now said that Mr Sequi's mandate was extended only
until 31 March, but nothing about how and when this decision was
taken. The previous Committee asked the Minister to clarify this.
Nor did the then Minister say anything about Mr Sequi's successor;
the previous Committee asked to know more about his qualifications
for this crucially important job.
51.24 The previous Committee also asked to know more
about the job itself. The then Minister did not mention that it
was to be "double-hatted", i.e., that he was to be not
only the voice of the Council but also the head of the Commission's
technical assistance operations. The then Committee asked:
what this would entail;
annual budget he would control;
main programmes he would be in charge of implementing;
they related to other bilateral and international activities;
his EUSR capacity, what his 1 April to 31 August 2010
budget of 2,500,000 would be spent on.
51.25 Moreover, although the previous Committee's
understanding was that the EUSR's mandate was to be significantly
upgraded, it seemed instead to have been diminished, in that there
is no mention of his predecessor's role regarding Pakistan. It
asked the then Minister to explain this.
51.26 In addition to be asked to clear a fait
accompli, the previous Committee noted that it was also being
asked to do so after a further administrative error by the Minister's
Department this despite several assurances that this type
of administrative oversight would be a thing of the past. So it
asked the Minister to explain, in detail, the nature of this oversight
and how, despite his assurances, it came to pass.
The then Minister's letter of 16 April 2010
51.27 The then Minister responds as follows.
APPOINTING THE EUSR
51.28 The then Minister says that, in accordance
with Article 33 TEU, the High Representative proposed the appointment
of Mr Uackas through her letter to the Foreign Affairs Council
of 22 February. A Council Decision appointing Uackas was
adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 March. The Council
remains an essential part of the process of selecting an EUSR.
It is the Council which appoints, or rejects, the candidate proposed
by the High Representative.
THE EXTENSION OF THE PREVIOUS EUSR'S MANDATE
51.29 The then Minister reminds the Committee that
a draft version of the Council Decision extending the mandate
was cleared on 9 February 2010 and replaced by the Council Decision agreed
at the March FAC appointing Mr Uackas.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON MR VYGAUDAS UACKAS AND
51.30 The then Minister says that, between 2008
2010, Mr Uackas was the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and that during this time he visited Afghanistan a number of times
to oversee the Lithuanian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)
in Ghor Province and the 200 Lithuanian troops based there. Prior
to that, Mr Uackas was the Lithuanian Ambassador to the
United States of America and Mexico between 2001- 2006, the Ambassador
to the United Kingdom between 2006-2008 and represented Lithuania
at its mission to the European Union and NATO between 1992-1996.
51.31 The then Minister goes on to say that the EUSR's
role will unite the former EUSR and Head of the European Commission
delegation positions, "resulting in a stronger, unified CFSP/Commission
delegation." He continues as follows:
"The appointment of Vygaudas Uackas, a
senior political figure, will add weight to this position and
is a welcome signal of enhanced EU engagement at this crucial
time. The primary role will be to represent the EU in country
and promote EU policy objectives in Afghanistan. This will entail
contributing to the implementation of the EU-Afghanistan Joint
Declaration and lead the implementation of the EU Action Plan
in Afghanistan. It will also involve working in close cooperation
with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General, Staffan
De Mistura and the NATO Senior Civilian Representative, Mark Sedwill,
to enhance coordinated of the civilian effort in Afghanistan.
No decision has yet been taken on how the Pakistan aspect of the
EUSR position could be undertaken most effectively. I will keep
the committee informed as this debate evolves.
"You rightly note that EUSR will have a budget
of 2,500,000 from 1 April to 31 August. This is the administrative
budget to be spent on running the EU mission in Kabul, including
salaries, accommodation, transport, running expenditure and capital
51.32 Turning to the matter of how the oversight
referred to above happened, the then Minister says:
"In essence, this was a miscommunication between
Afghan Group and Europe Global Group in my department, resulted
in a delay in sending the Explanatory Memorandum (EM)
on the appointment in time for it to clear scrutiny before the
March Foreign Affairs Council. I met with representatives from
both departments on 22 March to discuss what had caused the
error and agreed steps to ensure this did not happen again, including
an additional resource for improving internal communications and,
in particular spreading the message of the vital importance of
THE EU SPECIAL ENVOY TO BURMA/MYANMAR
51.33 Finally, the then Minister says that the EU
Special Envoy is an informal role, appointed by the High Representative
and not subject to agreement at Council, and therefore not subject
to scrutiny. In addition, the then Minister notes that the present
incumbent's position is funded directly by the Italian government
and not from the Common Foreign and Security Policy budget.
51.34 We are reporting this further information
to the House because of the widespread interest in the subject
51.35 But we note that the then Minister not only
has nothing to say about how the Pakistan aspect of the EUSR position
could be undertaken most effectively: he also fails to respond
to the previous Committee's questions about the non-EUSR component
of Mr Uackas' job (c.f. tirets one to four of paragraph
51.36 There is now a new Minister for Europe.
We ask him to provide the information requested by the previous
Committee that his predecessor did not furnish.
51.37 We also ask the Minister to confirm the
Treaty basis for the informal appointment of an EU Special Envoy;
to explain why the agreement of the Council is not needed; and
to explain whether an EU Special Envoy can be funded from the
200 See headnote: (30674) -: HC 19-xix (2008-09), chapter
14 (10 June 2009) and HC 19-xxiii (2008-09), chapter 7 (8 July
See headnote: (31296) -: HC 5-x (2009-10), chapter 8 (9 February
The Council Conclusions are available at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/112999.pdf