Select Committee on European Union Fifteenth Report


25 MARCH 2003

By the Select Committee appointed to consider European Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.



Box 1:Abstract
The Convention on the Future of Europe was set up on 28 February 2002 and is chaired by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. It has been charged with paving the way for the next intergovernmental conference planned to take place in Berlin in 2004.[2]

At the Convention plenary of 11-12 July 2002 two working groups were created to deal with EU external relations and defence policies. Having met regularly during the autumn of 2002 both working groups reported their conclusions on 20 December 2002. The Convention is expected to conclude by summer 2003.

The results of the Working Group on defence were broadly welcomed. The external action debate, however, proved highly divisive.

1.  The Committee notes the advances made by the Working Group Report on Defence and concurs with the Group's findings.[3]

2.  We endorse the findings of the Working Group Report on External Action on the creation of a European External Action Service, a joint diplomatic service and giving the European Representative autonomy over funding to allow financing crisis management on an urgent basis.[4]

3.  We are, however, concerned that the Working Group has not been able to reach a conclusion on whether there should be Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) on Foreign Policy issues. As the Working Group failed to reach any conclusion it is difficult to see any way forward on this regard.[5] The Committee is particularly concerned that extended QMV on foreign policy would in effect mean QMV on defence issues.[6]

4.  In addition, we do not believe that joint membership of relevant institutions is necessary.[7]

5.  We are open-minded on the recommendation that a single representative be appointed to carry out both the functions of the High Representative and the External Commissioner. We consider that if the roles are to be exercised by one person the High Representative role must remain firmly based in the Council.[8]

6.  We make this short report to the House for information.

1   Our Committee invited Sub-Committee C (Common Foreign and Security Policy, International Development and External Relations) to consider the relevant reports from the working groups of the Convention for the Future of Europe. The Sub-Committee, whose members are listed in Appendix 1 took evidence from the witnesses listed in Appendix 2. This evidence is printed with this report. Back

2   Laeken Declaration; 15 December 2001, section III. Back

3   Q47-Q78. Back

4   Q25-Q27; Q32-Q37; Q44; Q107. Back

5   Q5-Q9; Q11-Q14; Q23-Q24; Q88-Q89. Back

6   Q15; Q86; Q91-Q93. Back

7   Q43; Q108-Q110. Back

8   Q18-Q22; Q41-Q42; Q106; Q111-Q113. Back

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