14 MARCH 2001
By the Select Committee appointed to consider European
Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.
THE COMMON MEDITERRANEAN STRATEGY
PART 1: INTRODUCTION
Background: Common Strategies
1. The Common Strategy of the European Union on the
(henceforth referred to as the "Common Mediterranean Strategy"
or CMS) was adopted by the European Council at Feira, Portugal,
in June 2000. It is the third in a series of four common strategies
that have been or have been proposed to be adopted by the European
Union. The first, in respect of Russia, was adopted at the Cologne
European Council of June 1999, and the second, regarding Ukraine,
was adopted at the Helsinki European Council in December 1999;
the fourth, in respect of the western Balkans, has yet to be considered.
2. Common strategies are intended as an instrument
of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), but also
cover other areas of the EU's external relations. The mechanism
of the common strategy was introduced by the Amsterdam Treaty,
mainly to reflect two major concerns that arose over EU external
action during the Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) of 1996-7.
The first concern was to respond to the increasing demands of
the integration of internalor "cross-pillar"policy-making,
where it was felt that the existing instruments and agencies of
the EU were insufficiently co-ordinated, or even able in the first
place, to make a strategic impact. In particular, it was thought
necessary to link the economic, financial and trade instruments
at the disposal of the European Commission more closely with the
EU's political and diplomatic objectives. It was also considered
that important strategies of this kind should be decided at the
highest level, in the European Council, and only at that level.
3. From the outset, however, it appeared that this
approach was dictated more by institutional ambitions than by
a clear necessity to formulate the "common strategies"
in question. One of these institutional questions was the extension
of the use of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) to CFSP decision-making
to create more flexible conditions for the implementation of policy.
Not all EU member states were in agreement over the extent to
which an extension of QMV would enhance the EU's international
effectiveness. The debate on this subject was linked to an Italian
proposal to promote foreign policy positions from "common
platforms", and a proposal by France and Germany on "enhanced
co-operation" between smaller groups of EU states across
a number of EU policy spheres. Both suggestions were resisted
by the British government.
4. The amendments of the CFSP provisions of the Treaty
on European Union (TEU) agreed at the Amsterdam IGC in 1997 represent
a compromise position with the requirements outlined above. The
compromise restricted the broader extension of QMV through accepting
a national veto on grounds of national interest
and increased internal policy coherence. Thus Article 13.2 of
the revised TEU states:
"The European Council
shall decide on common strategies to be implemented by the Union
in areas where the Member States have important interests in common.
Common strategies shall set out their objectives, duration and
the means to be made available by the Union and the Member States."
5. Common strategies have been presented primarily
as an instrument of the EU so as to improve its own working. Their
purpose, as stated by Dr Emyr Jones Parry, Political Director
of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been to create
a new instrument "providing more coherence and focus on areas
of particular interest for the Member States" (Q3).
6. In practice the common strategies so far adopted
by the European Councilalthough it is open to question
whether this was the intention when the Amsterdam Treaty was agreedcontain
more specific provisions, in lengthier texts, than the "common
positions" hitherto adopted by the Council. Under the Amsterdam
Treaty, it is now the Council of Ministers which recommends common
strategies to the European Council, and which has responsibility
for their implementation in particular by adopting joint actions
and common positions, both of which if based on a common strategy
shall be adopted by QMV.
In addition to Member States, the Commission, in turn, may refer
questions and submit proposals to the Council
and is also "fully associated" in the representation
of the EU in CFSP, and in the implementation of strategies.
7. Unanimity applies in the case of decisions with
military or defence implications and the Amsterdam Treaty expressly
excludes them from QMV. For the most part the European Council
are the final arbiters in the adoption of joint actions or common
positions over issues deemed to run counter to the national interests
of individual Member States although in the last resort it cannot
overrule a national veto. Article (23 (2)) TEU states that:
"If a member of the
Council declares that, for important and stated reasons of national
policy, it intends to oppose the adoption of a decision to be
taken by qualified majority, a vote shall not be taken. The Council
may, acting by a qualified majority, request that the matter be
referred to the European Council for decision by unanimity."
8. The main innovation of common strategies in general
may thus be to have increased the opportunities for votes to be
taken by QMV on CFSP matters, where this possibility was limited
before. But Article 23 (2) TEU arguably provides a stronger safeguard
than the national veto claimed under the so-called "Luxembourg
Common Strategies in Practice: The Common Mediterranean
9. When Sub-Committee C was first set up in December
1999, the first two Common Strategies had already been agreed.
During the summer of 2000, as the Common Mediterranean Strategy
began to take shape, the Sub-Committee decided to examine the
Strategy by assessing, first, the concept of common strategies
in general and secondly, how it related to the EU's policies towards
the Mediterranean countries.
10. The Common Mediterranean Strategy did not, however,
emerge in a vacuum. Since November 1995, the EU has been engaged
with twelve southern neighbours
in building the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP), more commonly
known as the "Barcelona process" after the city in which
it was launched. This process has had two main objectives, the
first being to assist the EU's southern partners in opening their
economies to a Mediterranean Free Trade Zone by the year 2010.
The second, relating to the EU's security concerns, has been to
create a "zone of peace and stability" through the elaboration
of a Charter for Peace and Stability encompassing the principles
for the peaceful settlement of conflicts and conflict prevention
11. The scope of the Barcelona process has been extensive,
covering three chapters of activities under the headings of political
and security, economic and financial, human and cultural partnerships.
Unfortunately, during its first five years, Barcelona has made
only limited progress towards its objectives. By September 2000,
only 26 per cent of the funds committed through the MEDA
funding line had been disbursed to the Mediterranean partners.
Secondly, even though the guiding principles of the Charter for
Peace and Stability were agreed in April 1999, the document itself
failed to be adopted in Marseilles in November 2000. The most
salient reason was that the deteriorating situation in the Middle
East led both the Lebanese and Syrian delegations to absent themselves
from the Euro-Mediterranean summit of foreign ministers in Marseilles,
organised under the auspices of the French EU presidency, where
the Charter was due to be adopted. There were also continuing
disagreements over the draft put forward for adoption by unanimity
under the rules of Barcelona.
12. Against this background, the case for adopting
an EU-internal strategy towards the Mediterranean during the course
of 1999-2000 was not entirely clear. An immediate danger existed
that the common strategy would replicate or indeed confuse the
priorities of the EU towards the Mediterranean unless it offered
a clearer set of priorities and something substantially new to
the existing process. A further problem consisted of explaining
to Mediterranean partners what the purpose of this new "EU-only"
instrument would be, where the Barcelona process had been negotiated
in conjunction with these partners.
13. Coming after the common strategies on Russia
and the Ukraine, the EU appears to have chosen the Mediterranean
as the next in line for reasons of regional symmetry argued by
southern EU members, rather than on its own merit. In drafting
the first texts in the autumn of 1999, the Finnish EU presidency
encountered considerable difficulties in encapsulating the varied
aims of different EU members. By common agreement, the text prepared
by the end of the Finnish presidency was dropped as being inadequate
to the task of the proposed strategy.
14. Under the Portuguese EU presidency, EU members
spent the early months of 2000 attempting to agree the principles
on which to base the next draft. Progress was also slow, not least
because of continuing disagreements over the inclusion of the
Middle East Peace Process in the strategy. The political aspects
of the conflict are already covered by existing EU common positions,
the most recent being the Berlin Declaration of March 2000. The
fear of the United Kingdom, opposed by France, was that the extension
of QMV under the common strategy could serve to weaken positions
already agreed by unanimity under "common positions".
15. As a result of these and other disagreements,
no new draft of the CMS had emerged before the spring of 2000.
However, concerned that they had little to show for the Mediterranean,
in May 2000, the Portuguese presidency revived the discarded Finnish
draft in order to amend it in time for the Feira European Council
of June 2000. With assistance from the United Kingdom in the first
instance, this revised "Finnish" draft was the text
of the strategy adopted by the European Council.
16. From the outset, then, the CMS was hastily adopted
and did not reflect the stated intention of the EU to create a
strategy to give more coherence to its Mediterranean policy. Rather,
the resulting document reads less like a strategy than an inventory
of existing policies and activities, adding to the Barcelona framework
developments within the EU since 1995. These include the common
European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), co-operation in combating
crime under the third pillar and in other areas such as immigration
and asylum now brought under the first pillar.
17. In geographical scope, the CMS deals with the
same 12 partners as the Barcelona process, with the notable addition
of Libya, which was excluded in 1995 pending progress in the Lockerbie
affair. It does not deal with them all equally: bilateral relations
between the EU and the three applicant countries (Turkey, Malta
and Cyprus) are omitted and there are special provisions relating
to Libya. It also does not deal with any "Balkan" countries,
as the intention, at least, was that they would be considered
together separately using a fourth common strategy. (So far, there
is no evidence that such a common strategy will ever appear).
18. In principle, the CMS is intended to complement,
and not to compete with the Barcelona Process. Because of our
inquiry into the European Security and Defence Policy, and because
of the unexpected suddenness of the CMS's adoption, we were unable
to examine the CMS in its early stages. However, as we will now
illustrate in our chapter on the evidence we have received, this
has given us, and others, some time to reflect upon the Strategy,
which is now, as we will show, under considerable criticism from
within the Union and from outside.
1 The Common Strategy of the European Union on the
Mediterranean is printed as Appendix 4 of this report. Back
Article 23 (2) TEU. Back
Article 23 (2) TEU. Back
Article 22 (1) TEU. Back
Article 18 TEU. Back
The Mediterranean partners are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt,
Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Turkey,
Cyprus and Malta. Back
"MEDA" is derived from the term "Mediterranean