Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


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

  In my letter to you of 7 October 2005[65] regarding the proposed Joint Action to appoint Head of Delegation (HOD) Erwan Fouere as EUSR in Macedonia, I informed you that Fouere's mandate would be renewed in February. Given that we are now almost three months into his mandate as EUSR and in the light of the Committees interest (26896, 12 October) I would like to take this opportunity to update the Committee on how his mandate has been implemented in practice, and to set out our views on extending the EUSR's mandate which expires on 28 February.

  Firstly, I would like to update you on how Mr Fouere has implemented his mandate as EUSR and our views on whether his mandate need to be extended. The Joint Action to appoint HoD Erwan Fouere as EUSR was taken on 17 October (Environment Council) with Fouere taking up his position on 1 November. The short initial mandate of only 4 months was implemented to ensure that the mandate of the EUSR FYROM remained on the same cycle as other EUSR mandate renewals. These arrangements have now only been in place for almost three months, and to date, they are working well. The messages that Mr Fouere has delivered as EUSR in the period leading up to and after the European Council's decision to grant Macedonia candidate status were both clear and unambiguous. This was an important decision particularly at this time, reaffirming the EU's continued commitment to enlargement which is a major HMG commitment with widespread parliamentary support. As EUSR, Mr Fouere also played an important role in establishing the new EUPAT arrangements and overseeing the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement.

  The Presidency now proposes to extend the arrangements for 12 months. I believe there remains a strong case for maintaining an EUSR-function in Macedonia for the coming year. The country has made encouraging progress towards EU norms since 2001, which was rightly rewarded with EU candidate status at the December European Council. However, security and stability in Macedonia cannot yet be taken for granted. Distrust between the two major ethnic groups remains high and the potential for escalation of disputes despite the progress since 2001 cannot yet be discounted. Other challenges include ensuring the continued implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement; overseeing the transition from PROXIMA via EUPAT to Commission-led policing projects; and crucially monitoring the possible effects in Macedonia of the Kosovo Status Process. Fouere will now have a key role in working with the Macedonian government to deliver the conditionality-plus-capability-building on which progress with integration depends. There is a huge amount to do, and his credibility is an essential collective EU asset. The case for continued EUSR coverage therefore remains strong at least until the EU's remaining stabilisation missions in the country are wound down. The original arguments for EUSR coverage (as set out in my letter to you on 7 October) therefore remain valid, and it is my view that continued external support offering classic mediation between different groups including on security issues, remains important at this stage.

  The Council/Commission declaration on the adoption of Mr Fouere's mandate makes clear that his appointment "is an exceptional measure and is not to be regarded as setting a precedent for the appointment of future special representatives." Should there be any proposals for similar arrangements elsewhere we would, as noted in my letter of 7 October, "consider the merits of any possible future proposal for such arrangements on its own terms".

  When the mandate for the double-hatted EUSR was agreed in September 2005, the following safeguard was included at UK request in a declaration which accompanied the Joint Action:

    Council/Commission statement in relation to the adoption of Joint Action 2005/.../CFSP appointing the European Union Special Representative in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

    The Council and Commission welcome the appointment of Mr the EUSR for fYROM as provided for in Council Joint Action ..../2005. They note that, as regards his institutional responsibilities, the appointment is an exceptional measure and is not to be regarded as setting a precedent for the appointment of future EU Special Representatives. The Council and Commission agree that in his capacity as EUSR, Mr. [...] shall carry out the instructions of the Council and the Secretary General/High Representative on CFSP matters.

  Any extension of Fouere's mandate would reaffirm this declaration, thus safeguarding the primacy of the Council in CFSP.

  In my view, given that we can ensure the primacy of the Council as set out above, and given the unique Balkans security and stability concerns involved here, a time-limited extension in this instance remains the most effective and practical course of action.

  Either I or my officials would be happy to meet you and/or members of the Committee to discuss these arrangements formally or informally should you judge this necessary or helpful.

27 January 2006

65   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, pp 287-288. Back

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