Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240-261)|
Mr Elmar Brok
21 MARCH 2006
Q240 Lord Lea of Crondall: One of
the teasing problems is the credibility of the dialogue partner,
the African Union. So far as the implementation of the EU strategy
is concerned, there is no doubt that the leading dialogue partner
is the African Union, and of course we would all like to reflect
on the ability or the ambitions of the African Union but recognise
its limitations at the moment. When you meet African parliamentarians,
either from individual countries or in some pan-African sense,
how do you find that they react to the credibility of the African
Union talking to the European Union, as opposed to talking to
parliamentarians in Abuja or somewhere?
Mr Brok: I think that the African Union does
not have a high credibility there, but neither do the member states
in Africa under this system. So I think that is one of our main
problems: that we are dealing with partners who are mostly not
partners who want the good of their own people. How can we conduct
a development policy and development aid around governments so
that it goes to the people, and not into Swiss bank accounts?
Here we also haveand it is my criticism to friends who
work hard in the ACP processthat it is not politically
correct to criticise dictators in Africa. We say we are the bad
people; we were the colonial powers; and we have no right to say
what they are doing wrongly now.
Q241 Lord Lea of Crondall: Yes, but
it has been represented to us that imperialism, as a label, is
less easy to pin on the European Union than it is to pin it on
Britain, on France or on Belgium.
Mr Brok: That is true, but anyway that is always
used. I must say that this type of political correctnessnot
to tell the truth to such peopleis one of our main problems
in terms of effectiveness.
Q242 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Do
you think you can help the Member States and the European Union
by having a dialogue with African parliamentarians in which you
bring home to them that this is not governments that are putting
this pressure on them; it is parliaments who are putting pressure
on their governments to do so? That could be a very effective
support for what the European Union, it seems to us in our inquiry,
is trying to edge its way towards. We have had several people
who have said to us that we must back up the African Peer Review
Mechanism on human rights by rewarding people who submit to it,
and particularly people who submit to it and implement recommendations
made by the Peer Review; and, at the same time, by not rewarding
people, like Zimbabwe, who refuse to have anything to do with
the process. I wonder if you could comment on whether you think
there is a role for the Europe Parliament and parliamentarians
to help Member States and the Union to pursue a policy that is
a bit less feeble than the one you describe.
Mr Brok: I think that it is a good thing to
talk to parliamentarians, but it is always a question of the system
of the country. You have mentioned Zimbabwe, where at the moment
it does not make a lot of sense but where perhaps it is possible
to talk to opposition people. At the moment we are discussing
two points in the Parliament. First, we want to have a fifth instrument
from the Commission, the human rights instrument, which can be
used for such purposes. The second one we have discussed from
the Parliament side is to give money to the political groups,
with clear control that it is used only for human rights and democracy
work. So that political groups can go to their political families
and people who are thinking in the same direction in such countries.
Sometimes you cannot do it as a whole institutionall of
the European Unionbut the Socialists can do something there
and the Conservatives or the Liberals can do something elsewhere.
It would give them the possibility to have this direct contact,
in order to support discussions in the party political environment,
in civil society, and so on, and help to increase the responsibility
in such countries. That is something we would do via the Westminster
Foundation or something like that. I believe that it is a good
idea to use the political groups, because then you have the flexibility
that everyone can go to the group in a country which has credibility.
Q243 Lord Lea of Crondall: Can I
relate this to conditionalitywhat some people now call
"sticks" and "carrots" as a more homely metaphor?
If there is a complaint about imperialism or something like that,
and presumably the idea that our taxpayers are paying money that
they do not want put into Swiss bank accountsbecause Switzerland
is not the main priority for our aid moneydoes the European
Parliament have any resolution or dialogue process itself to confront
the balance between sticks and carrots? To have the understanding
that there have to be sticks and carrots?
Mr Brok: The instruments are very limited in
Africa. Who can we punish? If you use the sticks, is it a stick
against a dictator or a stick against the people? It is very difficult
to find the right balance so that it really works and that you
do not beat the wrong people. The other point is that what we
are doing at the moment, and what we want to strengthen via our
Human Rights Sub-Committee, is looking more at the operational
use of the human right clauses of European treaties and agreements
with such countries. In many of these treaties we now have human
rights clauses, but do they have a use in practical terms? We
need to find mechanisms on how that can be done, in order to enforce
such clauses in such treaties.
Q244 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Are
you satisfied with the way that the Commission has used the human
rights clauses in Cotonou?
Mr Brok: No.
Q245 Lord Lea of Crondall: Do you
think that the African Union, as a dialogue partner, should be
the main idea in our minds in terms of building up some benchmarking?
It has been put to us by a whole range of people that at least,
if it is lip service, everyone from the President of Nigeria through
to the Presidents of Egypt or South Africa, everybody, pays more
than lip service to some quite challenging principlesat
least they feel that there is some moral framework in which they
are operating. When somebody invades the next-door country, they
have something they can point to that all the 55 countries have
signed. Is that a complete illusion in our minds, that there is
anything going on there? That there is no progress? Or do you
think that there is any progress on this path of dialogue with
the African Union?
Mr Brok: I think there is progress, and I believe
that the Commission is totally aware of that; but are the instruments
sharp enough for that? Is there really sustainable monitoring
on this question, or does it come up only if something happens
like in Zimbabwe and it becomes unclear for everybody? It is day-by-day
work. Does it have the same monitoring and operational answers
as other parts of such treaties have? I think that here things
must be strengthened.
Q246 Chairman: You gave very definite
answers to Lord Hannay that you were not satisfied with the way
the Commission had used the human rights clauses in the Cotonou
agreements. Bearing in mind that the strategy places great emphasis
on governance, human rights, democracy, and so on, and given the
difficulties about conditionality, could you give us some examples
of where you think the Commission have not used the agreements
correctly? What lessons ought we to be drawing from it, for making
the strategy effective in this area?
Mr Brok: I cannot give you an example on that
now, without preparation. What I can say, however, is that it
always comes up as an issue if it is a real case and made public
in the media. Then we catch up with it in the Parliament and the
Commission; we ask the Commission to do something about it. However,
the day-by-day work is not done. That is perhaps where we have
talked about the delegations. At present the Constitutional Treaty
is not in place and we do not have these "embassies"
of the European Union. Does it make sense to strengthen the delegations
of the Commission? I had a discussion with Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner
about it last week and she shares my views. Legally, it is still
a Commission matter but it could also be used by Parliament and
Council as a type of embassy for monitoring, and so on: having
really qualified people there on the ground who could report and
say, "Here is a problem, and we have to do something".
Q247 Chairman: You believe that the
existing delegations are under-resourced?
Mr Brok: Too weak, under-resourced, not well-qualified;
they have no diplomatic training. I believe that these delegation
members should go for one or two years to national diplomatic
schools; not to build up a new European one, but circulating to
the national diplomatic schools and teaching them there. I think
that would be a very important point; and also in relation to
the national embassy and the European delegation, because very
often people who have learnt together then trust each other. I
think that could be a good combination.
Q248 Chairman: Is there a problem
with the financing of that, or could it be done?
Mr Brok: It could be done. I have told Ms Ferrero-Waldner
that, if she were to come up with a proposal, we would make sure
that the Parliament would help, step by step, to get the money
for it. They are small, practical points.
Q249 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: We
were told by one of our interlocutors that, for example, the Commission
office in Addis is quite inadequate to handle the complexity of
the dialogue that is now growing up between the European Union
and the African Union, because it is basically developmental in
its origins. Of course, there are enormous development problems
in Ethiopia which, quite rightly, are taking a lot of time and
effort; but that you cannot have the same people also trying to
work out how the European Union should help the African Union
mount a peace operation in Darfur, or whatever it is. They require
different skills, and they are not staffed to do this. This is
very much the point you are making, I think.
Mr Brok: Also, we are making it even more problematic,
now that every time something happens Solana or the Council sets
up some special envoy. We were together last summer in Afghanistan.
We had an invitation by the special envoy of the Council. He is
a good man.
Q250 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Vendrel.
Mr Brok: Yes. We had a dinner invitation from
him, but the representative of the Commission delegation was not
invited to that. We had to force him to invite him. If you have
such a relationship, it becomes ridiculous. Both are understaffed
and fight each other.
Q251 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Is
there any way of remedying that, do you think, apart from the
Mr Brok: No, I think that if the Constitutional
Treaty does not come, then I would say to the Commission, "Just
do it. Make it stronger". If it works and has an output,
then the rest will come. Convince by qualification.
Q252 Chairman: What sort of contacts
are you having as the Europe Parliament, if any, with the Pan-African
Parliament or individual parliamentarians from individual countries?
Is there a lot of contact?
Mr Brok: Not from my side. I have contact if
they come here. I am not in Africa much myself. That is done more
by the Development Committee, and we have a certain division over
there. We are only involved in questions like Darfur, when it
comes to such crises, but not the day-by-day policy in Africawith
the exception of North Africa, which belongs to the Neighbourhood
Policies, where we have very close contacts. But not black Africa;
it is limited.
Q253 Lord Lea of Crondall: One of
the things that we came across at an earlier stage of our inquiry
was the idea that "there is no such place as Africa".
It is only a thought in people's head. It is a continent. There
is no connection between the two sides of the Sahara Desert. But
then somebody pointed out that there are enormous, impossible
dilemmas when you see on the television 200 people a night being
drowned, trying to get to the Canary Islands or getting over razor
wire to get into the Spanish enclaves in Morocco. Leaving aside
AIDS, drought, et cetera, where would you put these continental
questions? I do not mean within the European Parliament structure;
I mean in terms of the agenda generally. Is it because you cannot
do much about it in the Parliament and people give up the ghost?
How would you describe the position of Africa?
Mr Brok: I think that we have become more and
more aware, especially when we saw these migrants in Morocco last
autumn. Two weeks ago I had a discussion with the Moroccan Prime
Minister. He agreed very much that, if we want to solve all these
problems of migration for such countries and for us, there must
be communication between countries like Morocco and us, not just
talking about what we do in the sense of home affairs, and so
on, and how to stop the people at the frontiers, but how can we
co-operate so that they do not even go to that place and that
they stay at home?
Q254 Lord Lea of Crondall: It is
not the countries to the north of the Sahara Desert; it is the
less than $500 a year people, on the south side.
Mr Brok: With these North Africa countries we
have a certain co-operation so that we can solve these problems
and do more together for the sub-Sahara region; because, if they
start to move, then it is mostly too late. I think that in this
way we can also convince our population. Nobody likes to give
money and development aid is not very popular amongst our voters.
However, if we say, "If we do more for Africa, then we do
more for our security"it is not just charity; it is
our security. I think it is therefore a better argument, in order
to convince people that we have to do that more.
Q255 Chairman: We have had some very
logical arguments advanced to us as to why the Africa Peace Facility
should be financed out of the EDF. Does the Parliament have a
view about that, or do you accept the logic of it?
Mr Brok: I am sorry, could you repeat that?
Q256 Chairman: The Africa Peace Facility
and it largely being financed out of the EDFwe have had
some logical arguments put to us as to why that should be the
case. There are other people who express some concern about that.
Is it a concern that is shared in the Parliament, or do you share
the view that it is the logical way, and the only way at the present
time, to fund the Peace Facility?
Mr Brok: I will just read this to you. "Funding
for the Africa Peace Facility must be closely linked with controls
on its proper use and on the effectiveness of operations supported.
There are major questions about the operation in Darfur, which
has not delivered sufficient security, while the operation of
DR Congo also faces huge challenges. We are all aware that doing
nothing is not an option; yet funding mechanisms need to include
an incentive to deliver results. This may also entail a clear
indication that the absence of results will have consequences
for future funding."
Q257 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I think
that is the other end of the problem, which is how the money is
spent when you give it to the Africans.
Mr Brok: We have seen with the Darfur question
that it has not really given positive results so far.
Q258 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Yes,
but I think that we must be a bit careful about being too critical
of the African Union. It is the first big operation they have
ever mounted. Although I absolutely agree with you, and the results
in Darfur are completely inadequate and shameful really for all
of us, but I do think that we have to be very careful not to be
too critical of the African Union. It is being asked to do something
astonishingly complex and difficult, which is to send troops hundreds,
sometimes thousands, of kilometres away, to a pretty inhospitable
place, to do a job for which they do not have a very clear mandate.
I think that our feeling, because we are all rather supportive
of the idea that the European Union should strengthen the Africa
Peace Facility, is that you do have to be rather carefuland
this is certainly the view that Solana expressed to us last weeknot
to be too critical about the Africans in this. It is the first
ever time that they have tried to do something like this. When
we tried to do it first in Bosnia, we were not terribly successful
Mr Brok: We certainly have to see how we go,
but we have to help them to understand how to organise mandates
which can have proper results. We know how difficult it is in
such countries, because everyone is afraid that, one day, this
might be an interference in his own sphere. Therefore, if I remember
rightly, it was difficult to set up this mandate before they could
start; it lasted so long. If we were able to organise self-help
and improve that ability, they could organise some stability themselves.
It is better than Europeans parachuting in and trying to do that
Q259 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Could
I ask you a question as a German MEP? Do you feel confident that
the German Government will be able to deliver the commitments
that it has entered into at Gleneagles and at the UN Summit for
a very big increase in German bilateral aid to Africa?
Mr Brok: I think the German Government has saidand
it is in the governmental contract between the two big partiesthat
they want to deliver the Millennium Goals some time, but that
will not be before the end of the period 2009-10, because of the
patchwork problems with the Maastricht criteria. However, the
aim as such is in the governmental programme.
Q260 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: So
the idea that the European Union will have to monitor all
the Member States' performance under these commitments is a pretty
valid one, in fact?
Mr Brok: Yes. Benchmarking is always a good
thing because, if you do not deliver, you then have problems to
explain at home.
Q261 Chairman: Is there anything
else that you would like to say to us, Mr Brok, that we might
not have raised with you in questions?
Mr Brok: No. Perhaps I should give you what
has been written for me on these questions.
Chairman: That would be very helpful. Thank you very