PART 3: OPINION AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF
51. The Committee perceived with a degree of scepticism
the rationale for adopting common strategies in general, and their
applicability to the Mediterranean in particular. In the absence
of a firm political undertaking on the part of the EU to engage
with difficult issues, in a clearly prioritised fashion, the common
strategy is merely a shopping list with no strategic content.
52. The Committee broadly agrees with the High Representative
Javier Solana's assessment of common strategies, in his internal
report which was made public during the course of the inquiry.
Three issues arise from this, namely, whether common strategies
are over-ambitious at this stage of the EU's institutional development,
except as inventories of what is already being done; whether the
motivation of extending EU external action via QMV procedures
is a sensible basis for strategy; and whether the strategies in
practice are applied to the right targets. On all three counts,
the Committee remains to be convinced. On the extension of QMV
in particular, EU members have demonstrated little desire to use
53. The reason why the Mediterranean was chosen as
a focus for a common strategy appears to have prejudiced both
its content and its utility in addition to the Barcelona process.
However, while some areas of the CMS are consonant with the aspirations
of the Barcelona process, there is a need for greater clarity
and explanation in some of the newer areas. Article 8 of the CMS,
for example, states that
"As far as security
matters are concerned, the EU intends to make use of the evolving
common European policy on security and defence to consider how
to strengthen, together with its Mediterranean partners, co-operative
security in the region."
54. This is an area where open-ended commitments
of EU resources could pose problems, as well as opening possibilities
for regional security co-operation. Nevertheless, this article
predated the difficulties encountered with the "Charter on
Peace and Stability" envisaged under the Barcelona process,
which failed to be adopted in November 2000. Its terms are sufficiently
vague to require monitoring as the ESDP evolves.
55. There are also a number of ambiguitiesor
"hostages to fortune"implicit in the CMS which
need to be clarified. The question of "who is in charge?"
of the CMS remains crucially unanswered. To what extent, for example,
can the High Representative for CFSP take initiatives on the basis
of the CMS? Will the Commission, given its budgetary role and
control over the MEDA funding line take a higher profile than
the Council or Member States in implementing the CMS? Is the strategy
as "watertight" from subsidiary policy implementation
under QMV as the British government considers it to be?
56. It is still not evident what the "added
value" of the CMS is over and above the Barcelona process.
Seen in its worst light as a distraction from existing policy
objectives, there is a danger that the CMS has diluted some of
the achievable aspects of the Barcelona process. However, the
launch of the CMS also coincided with the External Relations Directorate
of the Commission's reflections on the shortcomings of the Barcelona
model. Addressing these should become the focus for future action,
rather than the CMS itself. The more fundamental question of whether,
pending a resolution in the Middle East, the scale and scope of
Barcelona is too broad to permit of substantive progress in the
near future has not, however, yet been addressed.
57. The "comprehensive review of the Barcelona
Process" proposed under Article 11 of the CMS could, in full
consultation with the EU's Mediterranean partners, examine ways
in which smaller-scale, sub-regional objectives might be met.
Given existing southern Mediterranean concerns over the CMS, the
EU needs to establish the timeframe, content and participation
in this review process with some urgency.
58. It is clear that the lack of prior consultation
with regional partners has constituted one of the problems with
the CMS. Even though intended as an internal, EU-only exercise,
the unclear message sent to the region about the real purposes
of the CMS constitutes an obstacle to increasing the visibility
of the EU's activities in the region as well as for building equal
partnerships with regional allies. In a number of respects this
disregard for regional concerns constituted, perhaps unintentionally,
a neo-colonial attitude towards the states and societies on which
the CMS focused. Following the multilateral and consultative approach
adopted within the Barcelona process, this was perceived as a
potentially backward step in building confidence and trust within
59. The EU should also not underestimate the impact
of policies towards Iraq and the wider Arab and Islamic world
in reinforcing negative impressions of European intentions towards
the Mediterranean amongst the populations of the region.
60. A final concern is with the future of the CMS.
Most evidence from EU Member States seemed to suggest that while
it may have added little to the Barcelona process, it would also,
as a result, do little harm. It is also clear that bilateral relations
between EU member states and individual Mediterranean partners
remain the essence and basis for relations in the region.
61. Given the lack of enthusiasm for pursuing its
more ambitious and over-generalised aims, the EU needs to resolve
whether successive EU presidencies will continue to be obliged
to spend time assessing progress under the CMS and setting out
future objectives as is required by the Common Strategy. As put
by Javier Solana, "The introduction by each presidency of
a new working plan with new priorities has so far failed to add
to the objective of deploying a consistent and coherent EU approach
and has strengthened the impression of stop and go policies."
In the light of the criticisms by the High Representative in February
2001, alternatives might be either to reformulate the CMS to represent
a genuine and progressively attainable set of priorities towards
the region, or for the CMS to be quietly dropped. The High Representative's
suggestion that future common strategies remain internal EU policy
documents, either partly or wholly, was deemed not to be feasible,
not least because the High Representative's own internal and confidential
evaluation of common strategies was leaked within days of being
62. The EU/European Council should reconsider the
criteria for selecting targets for common strategies. They should
avoid choosing broad, disparate areas already addressed by existing
European policies and instruments.
63. In the longer term, the EU should consider more
closely the feeling of the Committee that focusing policy at the
level of such a large and diversified region is in fact self-defeating.
Different issuessuch as environmental co-operation, or
the repatriation of illegal migrantsrequire different types
of framework to achieve concrete goals.
64. In the case of the Mediterranean, the Barcelona
process should take clear precedence over the CMS as a means of
advancing European interests in the region and building partnerships.
It is the instrument to which our Mediterranean partners respond
65. The EU should define clear leadership roles in
both the Barcelona process and the CMS in order to articulate
the stated priority it attaches to the Mediterranean region. The
EU should in its management procedures identify the actors and/or
agencies who should be expected to champion the region in general
and the different dimensions of policy in particular. There is
a growing requirement for the EU's Mediterranean partners to find
a specific point of contact within the EU not only to channel
their concerns in more positive ways, but also to respond to their
66. One area that the EU should address with some
urgency is that of trade liberalisation, especially as regards
southern Mediterranean exports of agricultural produce which enjoy
a competitive advantage. It is also important that the Barcelona
process should make a positive contribution to action against
trafficking in drugs and people.
67. Another area, already being addressed by the
European Commission, is the reform of the allocation and disbursement
of MEDA funds, and the speed with which they are delivered to
bolster strategically identified sectors of recipients' economies.
68. A key priority arising from this is for the EU
to strengthen its management procedures with respect to the Mediterranean.
There is clear potential for the Commission to improve its management
of budgetary questions. The political and diplomatic aspects of
policy nevertheless need to be more closely integrated with the
activities of the Commission, under the clear direction and co-ordination
of Member States via the Council.
69. The EU must make a clearer separation between
the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) and the broader aspects of
Barcelona. The terms of the CMS are posited on a "post-settlement"
era in the MEPP, yet current circumstances indicate that the parties
are unlikely to reach a final settlement for some considerable
time. In the interim, the regional objectives of both the CMS
and Barcelona are blocked by the stalemate in Middle East peace-making.
Therefore, bearing in mind the EU's limited political role in
the MEPP, it should concentrate on supporting the efforts of the
US and others. It should also focus on promoting other aspects
of the Barcelona Process, above all sub-regional co-operation
elsewhere in the Mediterranean, which may be achieved without
undermining the regional approach.
70. At the same time, the EU should shift its thinking
from general conflict prevention provisions, to focus on the role
it might play in resolving specific current conflicts. This applies
not only to the Middle East, but also to the violence still claiming
lives in Algeria. If left unchecked, the continuation of regional
instabilities, including widescale human rights abuses, may prejudice
other EU objectives in areas such as migration control and the
spread of terrorist activity.
71. The more distant objectives of the CMSsuch
as the promotion of democratic governmentsmight be built
into smaller scale initiatives in conjunction with regional partners.
The region will reject EU initiatives if they are not consulted,
especially policies which appear to be conceived as directives
on how to run their lives. It is also important that the CMS should
not inadvertently distract attention from the value of the specific
association agreements between the EU and many Mediterranean countries
and from the need to complete them where they are not in force.
72. The United Kingdom in particular has yet to articulate
clear priorities towards the Mediterranean as perceived under
the CMS. Most policy positions are articulated in relation to
other EU Member States, or in terms not easily translatable into
concrete policy initiatives. This means that the United Kingdom
is not achieving the most from EU multilateral policy initiatives,
preferring to concentrate instead on restraining the ambitions
of other European partners, including over the use of QMV.
73. There are nevertheless issues arising in the
Mediterranean, such as immigration flows, drug trafficking and
organised crime, which are already affecting the United Kingdom,
in addition to continental Europe. The Government needs to establish
precisely what the United Kingdom sets out to achieve in the region
and then allocate our efforts between primarily bilateral relations
and instruments and use of multilateral channels, in particular
the EU. Our purpose should be to influence EU policies in directions
which suit our national priorities in promoting trade liberalisation
and countering crime and the trafficking in drugs and people.
74. Looking to the future and an enlarged EU, it
will be important to have a coherent EU approach which demonstrates
to the predominantly Arab nations of the region Europe's commitment
to their prosperity and well-being even while a Middle East peace
settlement remains elusive. It would be contrary to Europe's strategic
interests for any of our Mediterranean partners to feel alienated
from or neglected by Europe, as further non-Arab countries are
absorbed into the European Union and the EU develops its common
foreign and security policy.
75. This report is made to the House for information
26 See Appendix 5, paragraph 21. Back