2 EU Afghanistan Cooperation Agreement
on Partnership and Development |
|Committee's decision||Not cleared from scrutiny; recommended for debate in European Committee B, together with the Joint Communication: Elements for an EU Strategy in Afghanistan 2014-16, already referred for debate on 25 February 2015 (decision confirmed on 21 July 2015)
|Document details||(a) Council Decision on the signing of the Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development between the EU and Afghanistan; (b) Council Decision on the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development between the EU and Afghanistan
|Legal base||Article 37 TEU and Articles 207 and 209, in conjunction with Article 218(6)(a) and the second paragraph of Article 218(8) TFEU; unanimity
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Document Numbers||(a) (37417), 15503/15 + ADD 1, JOIN(15) 35;
(b) (37418), 15504/15 + ADD 1, JOIN(15) 36
Summary and Committee's conclusions
2.1 A 2014 Joint Communication, Elements for an EU Strategy
in Afghanistan 2014-16, outlined the key objectives and initiatives
upon which the EU would seek to focus on in support of the Government:
promoting peace and security; reinforcing democracy; encouraging
economic and human development; and fostering the rule of law
and respect for human rights. It was designed principally to ensure
that the EU and Member States could adopt a comprehensive and
coordinated approach to activities on the ground in support of
the Afghan Government.
2.2 Details of the context particularly the
2012 Tokyo Conference, at which International Community pledged
to improve aid effectiveness and provide US$16 billion to Afghanistan
in return for the Government of Afghanistan meeting its commitments
under the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework are summarised
below (see "Background" for full details).
2.3 Against this background, on 17 December 2015
the Commission submitted to the Council a proposal to sign and
conclude a Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development
(CAPD) between the European Union and the Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan. It is described by the Minister for Europe (Mr David
"a framework for further engagement and
cooperation between the EU and Afghanistan across a number of
wider range of areas, including political cooperation, human rights,
gender equality, civil rights, peace building, counter-terrorism,
development, trade, rule of law, policing, migration, education,
energy and the environment."
2.4 As the Minister also puts it:
"The desire for an agreement was first expressed
in 2011, and negotiations were held throughout 2011 and 2012.
Following a break, they resumed in 2015 with the new National
Unity Government. It was initialled in July 2015."
2.5 The Agreement is the first contractual relationship
between the EU and Afghanistan and underpins the EU's commitment
to supporting Afghanistan's future development during its "decade
of transformation" agreed at the Bonn conference in
2011. By strengthening political dialogue and improving cooperation
in a broad range of areas, the Agreement consolidates the European
Union's engagement with Afghanistan. It acknowledges the results
of the international conferences on Afghanistan held in Bonn,
Chicago, Kabul, Tokyo and London.
2.6 The Agreement includes provisions on political
dialogue and on cooperation in a broad range of areas. It draws
on the EU's standard political clauses on human rights and the
International Criminal Court, and includes commitments related
to the rights of women and children. The Agreement builds on the
principles of mutual accountability and reiterates the willingness
of the parties to address shared concerns, including:
1) the fight against terrorism, international crime
and illegal trafficking;
2) non-proliferation, disarmament and nuclear security;
3) Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD);
4) Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW); and
2.7 The provisions on cooperation cover the following
sectors: infrastructure development, energy, transport, health,
natural resources, tax, education and culture, employment and
social affairs, science and technology, and environment and climate
change. The Agreement also emphasises the importance of legal
cooperation and affirms the parties' commitment to fighting organised
crime, money laundering and corruption.
2.8 The Minister also describes the CAPD as "a
high-level agreement framing the EU's intention to strengthen
its relationship with Afghanistan", noting that the EU "has
a significant role to play in the future of Afghanistan as a means
to help develop the country in many areas including governance
and the rule of law".
2.9 Afghanistan itself has, he says, "just finished
the first year of its 'transformation decade', [h]aving taken
responsibility for its own security in 2015". The National
Unity Government headed by President Ghani "has committed
to an ambitious reform agenda and has begun to pursue peace with
the Taleban". In order to "continue down the path of
peace and stability", the Afghan Government "requires
the support of the international community, including the EU".
The UK's bilateral contribution to Afghanistan is "significant",
and the bilateral relationship "strong". The CAPD "does
not commit the UK to greater cooperation", nor "prevent
us pursuing our bilateral cooperation". The UK's objective
in Afghanistan is "to prevent it from returning to being
a haven for international terrorism, and to build the capacity
of the government". The involvement of the UK, and the EU
"is vital" and the CAPD "provides the framework
for a partnership to endure".
2.10 As well as authorising the signature and
conclusion of the CAPD, these Council Decisions include, in annexes,
the detailed texts concerning the areas covered by the Agreement.
But the Minister says nothing about these. Nor does he say anything
about how the Agreement is to be carried out. Or about what expenditure
is likely to be involved, other than that the CAPD does not have
any financial implications as such, in that it "does not
commit any funds directly".
2.11 We would therefore like the Minister to provide
more information on the workings of the agreement. How much money
is the EU committed to provide under which headings in order to
enable the new Government to implement its "ambitious reform
agenda"? In what ways will the EU be involved in the administration
and control of these funds? How do these funds relate to those
provided by other funders? In what ways will the Government of
Afghanistan be held to account? Paragraph 11 of the Tokyo Mutual
Accountability Framework says:
"11. The Afghan Government and the International
Community are to monitor performance for five major areas of development
and governance according to the modalities described below. A
timeline for these indicators is to be developed by the Afghan
Government for the next JCMB meeting. The desired goals and initial
indicators for each area are stated below."
2.12 Are there similar provisions with regard
to the work streams in the CAPD and the expenditure involved?
In what sense is the sort of "conditionality" involved
in similar EU work in the western Balkans and the "near neighbourhood"
built into the CAPD?
2.13 We note that this is a wide ranging agreement
entered into by the EU without the Member States participating
separately. The Commission's Explanatory Memorandum implies that
it may cover matters for which competence is shared.
We therefore ask the Minister whether the EU would be exercising
shared competence by these Decisions. If so to what extent and
what is the justification for departing from the normal Government
policy that member States should exercise shared competence?
2.14 Although the Council Decisions and annexes
are in final form, the Minister says that the "Council Decisions
are not yet finalised and continue to be negotiated in Brussels".
We understand that the EEAS/Commission have jumped the gun, in
the sense that the texts were published in final form before all
Member States had agreed to them at official level. This suggests
that, though there may yet be some changes, these are unlikely
to be substantive; in which case, the likelihood is that the Council
Decisions will then move swiftly to adoption by the Council.
2.15 We note that it is nearly a year since the
previous Committee recommended that the precursor to these Council
Decisions the Joint Communication referred to above
be debated in European Committee. At our first meeting, we endorsed
their recommendation for the same reason: it would be appropriate
to debate the role that, one way or another, the EU would be undertaking
(with EU taxpayers' money) in post-2014 Afghanistan and the host
of uncertainties surrounding the essentials for its successful
implementation. Those uncertainties remain, particularly regarding
the security situation. The financial uncertainties are outlined
above. Nonetheless, that debate has yet to be arranged.
2.16 We therefore recommend that the Council Decisions
containing this consequential CAPD be debated, in European Committee,
as soon as possible, together with the Joint Communication: Elements
for an EU Strategy in Afghanistan 2014-16, already referred for
debate on 25 February 2015 (decision confirmed on 21 July 2015).
It is important that the EU policy in Afghanistan embodied in
these documents is subject to further examination, in debate,
thereby enabling the Government to clarify and discuss the many
uncertainties about the context in which, and how, this Agreement
will operate, and interested Members to explore all the implications,
including for the UK's own commitments.
2.17 In order to facilitate the best possible
debate, we ask the Minister to respond to the queries raised above
as speedily as possible, so that they may be reported to the House
before the debate takes place.
2.18 In the meantime, we shall retain the Council
Decisions under scrutiny.
Full details of
the documents: (a) Joint Proposal for
a Council Decision on the signing of the Cooperation Agreement
on Partnership and Development between the European Union and
the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan: (37417), 15503/15 + ADD 1,
JOIN(15) 35; (b) Council Decision Joint Proposal for a Council
Decision on the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Partnership
and Development between the European Union and the Islamic Republic
of Afghanistan: (37418), 15504/15 + ADD 1, JOIN(15) 36.
2.19 The Afghan Government and the International
Community met on 8 July 2012 in Tokyo "to reaffirm and further
consolidate their partnership from Transition to the Transformation
Decade". The Tokyo Conference, together with the Chicago
Summit of Afghanistan and ISAF contributing countries of May 2012,
established what the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs described
"a renewed stronger foundation for partnership
to support sustainable growth and development of Afghanistan throughout
the Transformation Decade (2015-2024)."
2.20 Building on the London Conference in January
2010, the Kabul Conference in July 2010 and the December 2011
Bonn Conference, the Japanese and Afghan Governments, along with
ministers and representatives from 55 countries and 25 international
and other organizations "recognized the increasing roles
of new partners and neighboring and regional countries for the
sustainable development of Afghanistan". According to the
"the Afghan Government and the International
Community succeeded in transforming their mutual commitments made
in Bonn to cooperate throughout the Transformation Decade into
a solid and credible framework focused on the priorities of the
Afghan Government as contained in its strategy paper Towards Self-Reliance."
2.21 Acknowledging the promulgation of its new Constitution,
the Declaration pointed out that much nonetheless remained to
be done to achieve a peaceful, stable and self-sustaining Afghanistan,
including on such issues as security, with a focus on terrorism
and counter-narcotics, poverty reduction, humanitarian needs,
provision of basic social services, food security, protection
of human rights in particular the rights of women and children,
respect for individual dignity, promotion of education and culture,
improvement of governance, reducing corruption, lessening reliance
on international assistance, and promotion of private investment,
thereby contributing to human security. The Bonn Conference had
demonstrated a shared vision for long-term partnership between
Afghanistan and the International Community to help Afghanistan
attain sustainable economic growth and development and fiscal
self-reliance from Transition through the Transformation Decade.
Afghanistan and the International Community had accordingly established
the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (a.k.a. the "Tokyo
Framework", or TMAF), which underpinned their partnership
for the Transformation Decade.
2.22 At the Conference, the International Community
pledged to improve aid effectiveness and provide US$16 billion
to Afghanistan in development assistance through 2015-17, to respond
to Afghanistan's predicted budget shortfall following military
transition. For Afghanistan to benefit fully from these funds,
the Government of Afghanistan must meet its commitments under
2.23 The January 2014 Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions
defined 2014 as a critical year. The Council called on the Government
of Afghanistan to reciprocate the EU's commitment to Afghanistan
by finalising negotiations on the Cooperation Agreement on Partnership
and Development (CAPD). Sustained development would require the
maintenance of security. With that in mind, finalisation of the
Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States of America
was vital and would provide the basis for ongoing international
support to increase the capability of the Afghan National Security
Forces. The continued provision of significant international development
assistance to the Afghan people across the country was dependent
on a conducive security environment. The High Representative and
the Commission was tasked with preparing, by the second quarter
of 2014, a strategy to the end of 2016.
2.24 On 30 April 2014, the Commission and EU High
Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR; Federica
Mogherini) published Joint Communication 9467/14, Elements
for an EU Strategy in Afghanistan 2014-16.
2.25 The Joint Communication outlined the key elements
for a future EU strategy. It covered the political context as
well as the key objectives and initiatives upon which the EU would
seek to focus on in support of the Government of Afghanistan.
It focuses on four key areas, with critical sub-objectives: promoting
peace and security; reinforcing democracy; encouraging economic
and human development; and fostering the rule of law and respect
for human rights. The authors noted that the strategic goal and
objectives were developed in advance of clarity on the size and
scale of any international military presence post-2014; expectations
as to the degree of progress and the delivery of international
assistance in support of the Government of Afghanistan's priorities
in the event of a very limited international presence would necessarily
have to be tempered accordingly (for details, see the previous
Committee's June 2014 Report).
2.26 Though there was nothing controversial about
the proposed elements for an EU Strategy, the previous Committee
felt that it would be appropriate to debate it in due course because
of the role that, one way or another, the EU would be undertaking
(with EU taxpayers' money) in post-2014 Afghanistan and the host
of uncertainties surrounding the essentials for its successful
implementation. But the Strategy had yet to be agreed; the outcome
of Presidential elections was yet to be settled; and both USA
and NATO post-2014 security agreements with the Government of
Afghanistan were consequently still in limbo. Two key conferences
were also on the horizon: first, the NATO Summit in Wales, and
then the London Conference on Afghanistan. The Committee therefore
asked the Minister for Europe to provide in due course: a copy
of the Strategy; his thoughts on the outcome of the Presidential
election; more details concerning the dates, location and nature
of the two key events to which he referred; and an update on the
US Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Afghanistan, NATO's
equivalent Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and the National
Security Council's consideration of the UK's specific post-2014
2.27 In the meantime, the 20 October 2014 Foreign
Affairs Council welcomed the formation of a Government of National
Unity in Afghanistan, reiterated the EU's long-term commitment
to Afghanistan and reaffirmed the comprehensive strategy agreed
in June. It looked forward to working in close cooperation with
the new government and international partners to safeguard the
advances Afghanistan had made over the last 13 years and to support
and incentivise urgently needed reforms. The EU recognised the
important future role to be played by UNAMA in Afghanistan.
It pledged up to 1.4 billion (£1 billion) in assistance
up to 2020, complementing the development assistance to be provided
bilaterally by Member States. The EU restated its willingness
to finalise the CAPD, as the basis for a wide-ranging long-term
partnership between the EU and Afghanistan.
2.28 The Council also called for a clear and unequivocal
commitment to respect human rights, in particular the rights of
women and girls, and says that it is now imperative that the Government
of Afghanistan enact the reforms necessary to restore economic
confidence, promote job creation, increase revenue generation,
reform the judicial system, tackle the twin threats from corruption
and narcotics and improve the accountability of the state to ordinary
2.29 The London conference would, the Council said,
provide the opportunity both for the government to set out its
reform commitment in these areas and for the international community
to restate its long-term commitment to support Afghanistan.
2.30 Eventually, in February 2015, the Minister provided
the previous Committee with "an overview of the London Conference,
the focus and formation of the new National Unity Government,
an update on the security situation, Human Rights and the EU's
work in Afghanistan".
2.31 So far as the CAPD was concerned, the Minister
"The successful transition to a new Afghan
government augurs well for the EU to achieve its objectives over
the next three years. The reform agenda, as outlined by the new
Afghan government's paper 'Realising Self-Reliance' and set out
by President Ghani at the London Conference, provides a credible
framework for delivering economic security by tackling corruption;
maintaining progress on national security; delivering political
reform; and consolidating progress on human rights. These are
the right priorities and closely align with the EU's 2014-16 strategy.
The EU Strategy is designed principally to ensure that the EU
and Member States can adopt a comprehensive and coordinated approach
to activities on the ground in support of the Afghan Government.
"As part of the EU's long term commitment
to Afghanistan it will seek early agreement with the new Afghan
government on the EU/Afghan Cooperation Agreement on Partnership
and Development. If signed, the agreement will provide a legal
underpinning for a long-term partnership between the EU and Afghanistan.
This will be a priority for the EUSR
as he works to deliver his mandate objectives in 2015. Now that
a new Afghan Government is in place, we will continue to work
with the EU and Member States to reach an agreement."
2.32 With regard to the likely impact of the post
2014 security environment, the Minister said:
"We acknowledge that the work of the EU
will be constrained by the tough security environment. But the
ratification of the BSA and SOFA and the successful standing up
of the NATO Resolute Support Mission is a welcome backdrop for
EU work and brings to an end a long period of uncertainty. As
acknowledged by your Committee, it will be important for the EU
and Member States to remain flexible. Over the coming months,
we are encouraging partners to work closely with the new Afghan
government, adapting our approaches as necessary. This will be
an ongoing discussion."
The previous Committee's assessment
2.33 In February 2015, the previous Committee
concluded that, in view of subsequent developments outlined above,
the point had now been reached for the Joint Communication Elements
for an EU Strategy in Afghanistan 2014-16 to
be debated, and recommended
that this should be held in European Committee B.
2.34 At our first meeting on 21 July 2015, we endorsed
our predecessors' recommendation. In the intervening six months,
the Government has failed to arrange this debate.
The Council Decisions
2.35 In the meantime, these Council Decisions have
now been deposited for scrutiny. As well as authorising the signature
and conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and
Development between the European Union and the Islamic Republic
of Afghanistan, they incorporate the detailed text of the Agreement.
2.36 Notwithstanding the fact that, to all intents
and purposes, these documents are in their final form, the Minister
for Europe (Mr David Lidington) says that the Council Decisions
"continue to be negotiated in Brussels and further detail
will be provided once the final versions have been published",
and that therefore the "timetable to sign and conclude the
agreement is yet to be confirmed, and will be subject to finalising
The Government's view
2.37 The Minister describes the CAPD as "a high-level
agreement framing the EU's intention to strengthen its relationship
with Afghanistan", noting that the EU "has a significant
role to play in the future of Afghanistan as a means to help develop
the country in many areas including governance and the rule of
2.38 So far as the country itself is concerned, the
"Afghanistan has just finished the first
year of its 'transformation decade'. Having taken responsibility
for its own security in 2015, following the first peaceful transfer
of power in its history and the withdrawal of the International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2014, the National Unity Government
headed by President Ghani has committed to an ambitious reform
agenda and has begun to pursue peace with the Taleban.
"The continued progress made by the Afghan
Government requires the support of the international community,
including the EU, in order to continue down the path of peace
2.39 With regard to the UK-Afghanistan bilateral
relationship, the Minister says:
"The UK's bilateral contribution to Afghanistan
is significant, and the bilateral relationship is strong. The
CAPD does not commit the UK to greater cooperation, and does not
prevent us pursuing our bilateral cooperation."
"The UK's objective in Afghanistan is to
prevent it from returning to being a haven for international terrorism,
and to build the capacity of the government. The involvement of
the UK, and the EU is vital and the CAPD provides the framework
for a partnership to endure."
2.40 Finally, the Minister notes that Afghanistan
has recently acceded to the WTO, and "thus provisions on
trade will have a significant impact on the future of Afghanistan".
Previous Committee Reports
None, but see (35996), 9467/14, JOIN(14) 17: Thirty-fourth
Report HC 219-xxxiii (2014-15), chapter 1 (25 February 2015),
Eighteenth Report HC 219-xvii (2014-15), chapter 5 (5 November
2014) and Third Report HC 219-iii (2014-15), chapter 5 (18 June
2014); also see (37191), : Eighth Report HC 342-viii (2015-16),
chapter 10 (4 November 2015) and (36033) : Second Report
HC 219-ii (2014-15), chapter 11 (11 June 2014).
6 See the Commission's Explanatory Memorandum. Back
The Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) agreed in May
2012, establishes the mutual commitments of the Government of
Afghanistan and the international community to help Afghanistan
achieve its development and governance goals. Back
Shared competence can be exercised by either the EU or the Member
See The Tokyo Declaration 8 July 2012 for further information. Back
Available at 20 January 2014 conclusions on Afghanistan. Back
See Third Report HC 219-iii (2014-15), chapter 5 (18 June 2014). Back
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is
a political mission established by the Security Council in 2002
at the request of the Government to assist it and the people of
Afghanistan in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and
development in the country. UNAMA thus "provides political
good offices in Afghanistan; works with and supports the government;
supports the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and
promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed
conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation".
Its mandate is reviewed annually with the latest mandate renewal
being on 16 March 2015 when the Security Council unanimously adopted
Resolution 2210 (2015). Back
See 20 October 2014 Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions, pp.2-24. Back
See Thirty-fourth Report HC 219-xxxiii (2014-15), chapter 1 (25
February 2015). Back
Mr Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin was appointed EU Special Representative
(EUSR) in Afghanistan as of 1 September 2013 (he was
previously Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark and former Danish
Ambassador to Afghanistan). His mandate is to promote EU policy
objectives in Afghanistan. These include contributing to the implementation
of the EU-Afghanistan Joint Declaration; leading the implementation
of the EU Action Plan on Afghanistan and Pakistan, in so far as
it concerns Afghanistan, thereby working with EU Member States'
representatives in Afghanistan; and supporting the pivotal role
played by the United Nations (UN) in Afghanistan with particular
emphasis on contributing to better coordinated international assistance.
See (37191), -: Eighth Report HC 342-viii (2015-16), chapter 10
(4 November 2015) for further information. Back
Thirty-fourth Report HC 219-xxxiii (2014-15), chapter 1 (25 February
See WTO News of 17 December 2015, Ministers approve Afghanistan's WTO membership,
for further information. Back