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Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for setting out some comments and answers on the debate. I accept that the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, is right about General Hagglund. He is a Finnnot a NATO member countrybut he is the chairman of the military committee, not the political and security committee.
I am also grateful to the Minister for her assurance that there is no European army and there will not be one. We accept that as her firm assurance, but there continue to be a great many voices around Europe of a different tone. I suspect that whatever the wishes and policy of the Government, which she has explained with her usual clarity, those other voices will continue to be heard. That is, in a way, disturbing.
To answer the question put to me by my noble friend Lord Tugendhat, with whom I have discussed these matters at length many times, there may well be occasions when the Americans do not want to get involved in a particular security or enlarged military policing project, although I think that they will be few. For once I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, who speaks with such clarity on these matters. He said that after 11th September there would be more occasions when the Americans did not come along with us, but I think the opposite. It seems to me that we are now in a globalised pattern of defence and security against all forms of new threats, many of which were not foreseen. That will involve a much more intimate and continuous dialogue and involvement between the powers, both bilaterally and for those acting in regional groupings, as the EU seeks to do. It will be less, not more frequent for countries to wish to sign off or opt out.
When those occasions occur, if they do, the matter can be resolved within the present structure and framework of the ESDP, which, as the noble Baroness has just said, the Americans support and which we all think is a reasonable framework of co-operation. However, that is not the same as the rapid reaction force, which is the body of the future and whose authenticity and efficiency, as the noble Baroness rightly said, arises not out of this treaty, but, in a way, out of previous treaties. I shall deal with that in a moment.
Such a situation can invariably be dealt with by discussion if the Americans do not want to come along. Even if it could not, in practice it will be, because for the foreseeable future US equipment and intelligence will be required. The spending to replace it is not there. The programmes have not been developed. I have heard it frequently asserted by independent authorities that American equipmentwhich I suppose is NATO equipmentwill be necessary even to conduct the most modest Petersberg-type policing tasks.
All of that reinforces the question mark that there has to be over the idea of a separate operational planning system and separate EU strategic involvement in these matters, which the noble Baroness has described. Even if the spending gets going, there will be duplication. It is already on the cards that there will be additional surveillance and satellite systems. In this very small world of intimate co-operation between London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow, Cairo and so on, one has to ask why such duplication is needed. We need inter-operability and compatibility, so that at least a Belgian tank can ring up a British tank and both can ring up American equipment and make contact and operate together. What is needed is already in existencethe OCCAR system of European procurement co-ordination that the noble Baroness mentioned. That is the practical way forward for us and the United States to continue to strengthen the overall punch, reach and effectiveness of a modern NATO in a transformed world.
In the words of Henry Kissingerwho is not always right on these things, but on this he isthat means that the whole spirit must be one of partnership, not rivalry. Many of us are worried that the more we hear about the scheme for a separate, autonomous force, the more it is couched in terms of challenging the American hegemony and of rivalry and competition with the United States. That is not the language of the 21st century. It is backward-looking language that will not achieve the security results that we all want.
The noble Baroness is right that the treaty basis for all this goes back to Maastricht, but since then there has been St Malo and a major development in the concept, growth and emergence of the rapid reaction force as a project. Throughout all this, one has to ask what the accountability structures are. The treaty now says goodbye to the WEU, which is to be disbanded. I do not know whether that applies to the WEU parliamentary assembly, but I imagine that it does. Even its best friends would admit that that
It is astonishing that we have not had a comprehensive reporteven one as comprehensive and clear as the noble Baroness's speech to the House at 6.30 on a Thursday evening. But we have no formal, clear report showing the enormous implications of what happens now that the Western European Union is disbanded and how the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will and will not relate precisely to the new defence capabilities about which there has been so much debate.
I find that to be an amazing lacuna. In an age when more and more democratic accountability is being demanded, in these areas, above all, it appears necessary that governments should keep their legislatures and their citizens fully informed. In a moment I want to propose to the Committee that that particular matterthe lack of accountability, the lack of a report and the absence of real explanation as to how these matters are affected by the Treaty of Niceshould be put to a vote and the opinion of the House tested.
We now turn to Amendment No. 9, which deals with the specific question of a common foreign policy. The amendments to it in the Nice treaty have the effect of extending somewhatit is not entirely clear how farqualified majority voting in some aspects. Furthermore, the amendment indicates that where a country opts out of a certain foreign policy implementation, the other member countries may nevertheless insist that it continues to apply provisionally.
I hope that this amendment will give us an opportunity to look at the question of the superpower concept and at the state of common foreign policy and to see how it matches up to what has been acclaimed for it in recent months and what is hoped for it in the future. As I said in an earlier debate, there is an opinion that it has worked marvellously and that in recent weeks Europe has spoken with a single voice. There is also an opinion, widely shared in the press, that the common foreign security policy was rather "pushed about" by the events of 11th September and by the Afghan war and crisis. The Financial Times' heavy headline of 6th November stated:
As my noble friend Lord Hurd said in a very interesting lecture the other day, the situation offers a mixed set of instruments. We do not always have to imagine that every foreign policy pattern or situation will automatically be co-ordinated by all the member states. If one does imagine that, there is bound to be disappointment when old bilateral relationships, new bilateral relationships and particular alliances spring up to meet the new situation, as has happened in the past few weeks.
My right honourable friend in another place, Mr Ancram, spoke about layered responses to the global terrorist crisis. He emphasised the need for all types of alliance and said that it was not always possible to fit the response into the harness of a common foreign policy. In a crisis there are bound to be different needs and different types of bilateral relationship. If one waits for the slowest in the convoy, one waits in vain and probably waits too late.
I believe that the rowif that is not too strong a wordthat arose after the Prime Minister, who seems to me to be performing excellently, gave a dinner party to which he did not invite all member states which felt that they had a right to be involved in a common foreign security policy is a classic example of what happens if one invests too much power in that particular concept.
In our view, the basic problem is that exaggerated expectations arise from common foreign policy. There is also a feeling that it is a hierarchy and that it must have a central point and club rules, and so on. In the real world, that is not the position. As I said in a previous debate, we live in a network world, which, I agree, is a complicated concept. However, it is one which matches far more closely the pattern of relationships within which Europe and its neighbouring countries must work.
The further danger of a single common foreign policy is the one to which I referred in a previous debate; that is, that it creates a feeling that Europe must somehow project itself and its weight in the world and that it must project its weight and purposes against something. What is the thing that it is against? It is obviously not the old collapsed and disappeared Soviet empire; it turns out to be the alleged dominance of the United States, with which, as I said earlier, we should be partners and not rivals.
The other danger to which we return again and again is that a common foreign policy must be worked out. Once it has been worked out in detail, it is set in stone and becomes, in effect, non-negotiable. The Americans may turn up in Europe and speak to Mr Solana. However, if we negotiate very carefully a common foreign policy, then the room for unravelling that negotiation will be almost zero. Henry Kissinger said that he wanted a single
Let us have common positions on foreign policy with our European neighbours at the right time, but we must be very careful about moving away from unanimity in reaching those positions and even more careful about over-institutionalising common foreign policy and about co-ordination becoming more important than the purpose of the policy. We all remember the disaster associated with the recognition of Croatia. It was recognised because it was felt more important to achieve a common policy than to work out the consequences of that premature recognition. In future, we want less of that, not more. That is why the amendment is necessary. I beg to move.
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