Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


ESDP: EU PLANNING TEAM IN KOSOVO

Letter from Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  The next meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) is on 10 April 2006. At this meeting Foreign Ministers are expected to agree a Council Decision to establish an EU Planning Team (EUPT) in Kosovo in preparation for a possible civilian ESDP mission there.

  With the UN-led final status process underway, there is broad agreement within the international community (eg the Contact Group and the European Union) that the UN will no longer take the lead in Kosovo once a settlement has been concluded. We support a leading EU role and there is broad agreement among Member States that the EU should lead the international civilian presence in Kosovo post-Status, which, as the London Contact Group Ministerial statement of 31 January stated, should be concluded during the course of 2006.

  The establishment of a Planning Team does not prejudge the outcome of the Status Process, or any subsequent decision by the EU to launch an ESDP mission in Kosovo. But it is important that contingency planning keeps in step with the Status Process already underway. Deploying a Planning Team now will also ensure that appropriate advance contingency planning is in place and that the EU decision making is based on sound analysis.

  The Planning Team is expected to comprise around 30 personnel, including policing and justice experts where we anticipate there will be a particular need for EU assistance. We will be considering how the UK can best contribute to the Planning Team in due course.

  Unfortunately the nature of the status process has meant no EU Joint Action was available before the Easter recess. Since it is important that contingency planning keeps in step with the status process, HMG will have to agree to this Council Decision on 10 April before scrutiny can be completed. I hope you will understand our reasons. When the Joint Action is available, I will of course forward this under the cover of an Explanatory Memorandum.

  As this Council Decision relates only to the deployment of a Planning Team, a further Council Decision will be required before any civilian ESDP mission is established. I will ensure you are alerted to this at the earliest opportunity.

6 April 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP

  Thank you for your letter dated 6 April 2006 which Sub-Committee C considered by written procedure during the week commencing 17 April.

  We welcome the proposal to establish a planning team for Kosovo. Your letter states that there is broad agreement among Member States that the EU should lead the international civilian presence following the determination of Kosovo's future status and we strongly support this. However, it is not clear why, given this broad agreement, the planning team could not have been proposed earlier, thus avoiding the need for an override.

  Furthermore, we would like to know why the ensuing explanatory memorandum and document were not received until 19 April, nine days after the Council Decision had been agreed by the 10 April GAERC. Your letter states that this was due to no official text yet having been received. However, it is often the case that you deposit explanatory memoranda in advance of an official text having been received. The text which you deposited on 19 April is dated 5 April. Although we accept that it would not have been possible to avoid an override in this instance, the explanatory memorandum and document should have been deposited prior to the agreement in Council on 10 April.

  We look forward to receiving your Explanatory Memorandum relating to any proposed Council Decision to establish a civilian ESDP mission in Kosovo and hope that more time for scrutiny of any such mission will be made available.

24 April 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP

  Thank you for your Explanatory Memorandum dated 18 April 2006 which Sub-Committee C considered at its meeting on 27 April. The Sub-Committee agreed to clear the document from scrutiny.

  We have written separately (letter dated 24 April) concerning your letter (dated 6 April) noting that there would be an override on this Decision.

  Given the potential significance of any eventual ESDP mission in Kosovo we ask that you keep us briefed about the outcome of the planning team's mission and any recommendations that the planning team should make. Such briefs should include an assessment, from your point of view, of the EU's capacity to fulfil those recommendations.

28 April 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  Thank you for your reply of 24 April to Douglas Alexander's letter of 6 April on the Council Decision to establish an EU Planning Team in Kosovo.

  The timing of the EU's work on Kosovo, including the Planning Team proposal, reflects the pace of progress with the wider Status Process. While the EU's work has been developed rapidly to keep in step with the Process it is important that its plans do not pre-judge or overtake the underlying political process.

  In terms of the timing of the Explanatory Memorandum, Mr Alexander had hoped to be able to provide you with an Explanatory Memorandum on the final text, or on a more recent draft, before the Committee reconvened after the Easter recess. When it was clear a better text was not going to be available I understand that he agreed we should provide an Explanatory Memorandum on the available text. In submitting the Memorandum on 19 April he hoped this would reach you in time to be considered for the Committee's first meeting on 27 April. We will continue to submit Explanatory Memorandum's on draft texts where these are available.

  As Mr Alexander noted, the establishment of a Planning Team does not prejudge the outcome of the Status Process, or any subsequent decision by the EU to launch an ESDP mission. I would also add that I do not expect any decision on a mission to be taken before the end of the year, but I will ensure you are alerted to any such decision at the earliest opportunity. We will of course update you on progress more generally through the Ministerial Statements we issue following General Affairs and External Relations Council discussions.

May 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP to the Chairman

  I am writing to alert you to developments within the EU relating to Kosovo, which may require the adoption during the Summer Recess of a Joint Action to establish a preparation team to contribute to preparations for the establishment of a possible International Civilian Mission (ICM) in Kosovo, including an EU Special Representative (EUSR).

  On 12 July, the Presidency circulated a Council Secretariat-Commission non-paper recommending that the Council adopt a Joint Action to establish an EU planning team that could contribute to preparations for any future International Civilian Mission (ICM) for Kosovo, including an EU Special Representative (EUSR).

  There is broad agreement amongst the international community, including within the Contact Group and the European Union, that the EU will play an important role both in the planning and in the implementation phases of the international civilian presence in Kosovo post settlement.

  The objective of the proposed planning team would be to contribute together with relevant international partners, to preparations for the establishment of an International Civilian Mission in Kosovo, including an EU Special Representative. A Joint Action of the kind envisaged would not prejudge the final outcome of the Status Process but it is essential that EU contingency planning keeps in step with the Status Process now underway. As it is hoped that the ICM/EUSR will be in place following the adoption of the status settlement, it follows that planning for the ICM needs to be close to completion at the time of the settlement. As the London Contact Group Ministerial statement of 31 January noted, the Contact Group is aiming for the process to be concluded by the end of 2006.

  The Presidency is therefore rightly keen to secure adoption of the Joint Action as soon as possible and this is likely to be during the summer recess, probably at the September GAERC. Given the importance of early preparations for implementation of a settlement, it is likely that the Government will need to agree this Council decision before scrutiny can be completed. I hope that you will understand the exceptional operational reasons that make this necessary. As soon as the Joint Action is available, I will naturally forward this under cover of an Explanatory Memorandum.

20 July 2006



 
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