EUROPE IN THE WORLDGREATER COHERENCE,
EFFECTIVENESS AND VISIBILITY (10325/06)
Letter from Kim Howells MP, Minister of
State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman
I attach an Explanatory Memorandum (not printed)
covering a Communication from the Commission to the European Council
published on 8 June: "Europe in the WorldSome Practical
Proposals for Greater Coherence, Effectiveness and Visibility".
The Communication seeks to identify how, within
the framework of existing treaties, the EU can make its external
policies more coherent and effective. It does not include any
legislative proposals. Rather one portion of the proposals refers
to internal Commission reforms that the Commission will be implementing;
with the remainder to be developed further by the Commission,
the Council and the High Representative for CFSP.
I hope that your Committee finds the EM informative.
16 June 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Kim Howells
Thank you for your Explanatory Memorandum dated
16 June which Sub-Committee C considered at its meeting on 6 July.
The Sub-Committee agreed to hold the document under scrutiny and
to conduct a short inquiry into the issues raised. We expect to
publish a short report in November in order that our views may
be taken into consideration as part of ongoing work in this area.
The explanatory memorandum simply stated: "Although
the Government does not agree with all the proposals in the Commission
Communication, it welcomes the paper as a helpful contribution
to an important workstream. It is right that the EU should be
considering ways of making its external policies more coordinated
and effective, within the framework of the existing treaties."
We do not believe this explanation to be sufficient, especially
given the extremely important nature of this Communication.
We note that the Minister for Europe is due
to give evidence to the Sub-Committee on current developments
in European foreign policy on 13 July and members will ask questions
relating to this document. In order to have a more productive
discussion with the Minister we would like to receive, prior to
the Government's specific views on
the various Commission proposals and whether or not you agree
reasons for your views, in particular
relating to those proposals with which you disagree; and
a copy of the letter and annexe by
the High Representative, Javier Solana, which were considered
by the European Council in conjunction with the Commission Communication.
6 July 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister
for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 6 July to Kim Howells.
As you know, the Commission Communication, "Europe in the
World", was the product of continuing debate about how the
EU's external policies can be made more co-ordinated and coherent,
particularly in those areas that fall between pillars. The June
European Council tasked the incoming Presidency, the Council,
the Secretary-General/High Representative, and the Commission
with examining measures contained in the paper, as well as further
measures, with a view to improving the EU's external coherence.
While I do not believe that setting out the Government's detailed
views on each of the Commission's recommendations will be helpful
until the debate at EU level has developed further, there are
some suggestions that appear to be sensible administrative and
practical steps that can be implemented without too much difficulty.
These include the proposals in the paper focussed
on improving the internal coherence of the Commission's contribution
to EU external policy. So we would support the proposals to strengthen
the role of the External Relations Group of Commissioners; to
improve Commission reporting and analytical capacities both in
Brussels and its Delegations; and to develop new working methods
and procedures within the Commission to allow real time policy
decisions in response to evolving events. Such reforms seem sensible
and can of course be implemented by the Commission itself without
reference to the Member States.
We also support a number of the recommendations
in the paper that will require further discussions between the
Brussels institutions and the Member States. One example would
be the proposal that there should be informal meetings every 6
months between the incoming President of the European Council
and Foreign Minister, the President of the Commission and the
External Relations Commissioner and the High Representative to
undertake an overview of the Union's external action. Another
would be the call for earlier preparation of Summits with key
partners to identify key internal policy issues to be raised.
Equally the recommendation that there should be an enhanced programme
of exchange of personnel with the diplomatic services of the Member
States and the staff of the Council Secretariat also seems worthwhile.
However, there are other suggestions within
the paper that will require more detailed study, and indeed proposals
that will not be taken any further. On double-hatting, the Foreign
Secretary stated our position at the Foreign Affairs Committee
on 13 June. We would not anticipate an extension of the precise
model used in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to other
countries. However, as the Committee is aware, the EU will need
to take decisions later this year about the organisation of its
representation in Bosnia and Herzegovina once the Office of the
High Representative closes, probably in June 2007. After this
point, the EU will have both a key political role in Bosnia, in
the form of an EUSR who will take on some of the OHR's functions,
and a substantial amount of leverage in the form of the Stabilisation
and Association Process, run by the Commission.
In our view there is a good argument for having
the EU speak with one voice on these two closely interlocking
issues, so maximising the effectiveness of our presence in BiH.
This points to a different form of double hatting, which reflects
the greater political content of the job, under which the EUSR
(that is to say a politician, or senior national official, appointed
by the Council) also heads up the Commission's presence in country.
As with the FYROM case, safeguards would be needed to ensure that
lines of accountability were not blurred. Discussions on the way
forward in BiH are still at an early stage, but I would welcome
the opportunity to discuss our thinking with the Committee.
During the term of the incoming Presidency the
Government will continue to discuss all of these issues with the
other Member States, the Commission and the Council Secretariat.
I shall keep you up to date on any important developments.
As requested, I enclose a copy of the letter
and annexe by the High Representative, (not printed) which were
considered by the Council with the Commission's paper.
12 July 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP to the
During my appearance before Sub-Committee "C"
on 13 July I promised to write concerning which of the proposals
in the Commission's Communication "Europe in the World"
could be implemented without further consideration of the Constitutional
The proposals were intended as a contribution
to a debate, and indeed in accordance with the June European Council
Conclusions, discussions in Brussels have now moved on from them
to the Finnish Presidency's own external relations agenda.
However, to answer Lord Tomlinson's question
directly, the proposals in the Commission Communication are distinct
from the provisions envisaged in the Constitutional Treaty, and
could be introduced without the Constitutional Treaty.
This is because the Constitutional Treaty sought
to define a new institutional dispensation, and set the terms
by which the EU MS and institutions would interact with each other.
The Commission's Communication, on the other hand, is predicated
on existing treaties and focuses on: (a) improvements to internal
Commission working practices in external policy areas; and (b)
how the EU can make its external policies more coherent through
the Member States and the Brussels institutions coordinating and
26 July 2006