Select Committee on European Union Thirty-First Report

CHAPTER 4: The Impact on the Strategic Objectives

105.  As we have recorded in Chapter 1, the European Council asked the Secretariat to review the 2003 European Security Strategy and in particular its implementation. In evidence, the witnesses to the Committee emphasised that implementation and capability were the key tasks.

EU Enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy

106.  Several of our witnesses viewed the enlargement of the EU as an important factor for stability. Dan Smith thought that "the idea that EU enlargement, in a general sense an expansion of an EU zone of peace, is an important part of an overall security strategy … that is also very valuable and worthwhile" (Q 9). The Europe Minister, Caroline Flint, MP, agreed that "enlargement is one of our most powerful tools in terms of democratic reform, opportunities for prosperity and trade, but also security … in which … trade and democracy play an important part ..." Enlargement increased stability and helped the EU to respond effectively to some of the challenges which it would face in the future. The review of the Strategy would reflect this (Q 414). The UK Government's support for enlargement was reiterated by Lord Malloch-Brown, FCO Minister for the UN, Africa and Asia in the House of Lords[15] "this Government's commitment to enlargement remains known." In his recent speech in Kiev, the Foreign Secretary also pointed out that "the prospect and reality of EU membership has been a force for stability, prosperity and democracy across Eastern Europe and it should remain so beyond"[16]. At the same time he stated the British Government's position on the long-term goal for Ukraine "once Ukraine fulfils the criteria, it should be accepted as a full member, and we should help you get there … the goal is a good one".

107.  For Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner the enlargement process was part of "effective multilateralism" (see paragraphs 117-120 below) and "a very important instrument per se to have a much better strategic objective on security matters" (Q 178). Patrick Child, Head of Cabinet in the Commission for External Relations, stressed "the importance of enlargement as one of the strategic objectives of the Union …" In the context of the ESS, he very much hoped that the Lisbon Treaty would be able to come into force and help to consolidate that policy (Q 191).

108.  A major instrument in implementing Europe's security is the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). More recently the Union for the Mediterranean, developing the existing Barcelona Process, has additionally been launched. Both policies aim to associate the countries bordering the EU in the North, East and South with the EU, short of offering membership.

109.  Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner told us the Commission had been working on the ENP which had "an important component of strategy on security". The Commission was also trying to do much more on the so-called frozen conflicts[17]. In the context of the ENP (and in the wider world) the Stability Instrument (SI)[18] had enabled the EU to do quite important things quickly with only small amounts of money which made a contribution to resolving or preparing the ground for resolving matters. The Stability Instrument also helped to respond to crises—funds could be made rapidly available to stabilise conditions which were necessary for development. The advantage was that contracts could be taken on immediately which was not possible under normal development policy (Q 178).

110.  Patrick Child considered that: "The strategic necessity for Europe of contributing to the security and stability in its neighbourhood in its larger sense, including those countries which have a clear membership perspective as well as the ones covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy, is a very clear and present requirement" (Q 192). Richard Wright, Director for Policy Coordination in CFSP, added that all the Balkan countries had Stabilisation and Association Agreements which were "very important elements of building up a more secure environment in Europe." The conclusion of an SAA for Serbia during the election period had certainly been an important political signal which seemed to have had some effect. There were positive developments going on in the area which were important to reaffirming security in Europe (Q 192).

111.  Robert Cooper described the way in which different countries were treated under the ENP: "those who really want to move forward can move forward and get support in moving forward" (Q 286). More, for example, went to Morocco that to Algeria because the Moroccans were interested in the kind of development that the EU was trying to encourage.

112.  Europe Minister Caroline Flint believed that the events in Georgia had raised a number of issues about the neighbourhood policies of the EU, particularly in the eastern part of Europe: "the review will have to take into account … issues around what has happened [in Georgia] and how this impacts on … our Eastern Neighbourhood Policy …" (Q 407). The events indicated that the EU should step up its support in the region, sending a "strong political message that we support European aspirations of the region" and strengthening the EU's support for the long-term processes on which many countries in the area wanted to engage the EU (Q 413).

113.  The substantial enlargement of the EU in 2004 and 2007 came after the adoption of the 2003 Security Strategy which placed considerable emphasis on accession as an integral part of assuring the EU's security within the European region. This consideration remains as valid now as it was then.

114.  The potential for membership of the EU acts as a strong incentive to candidate countries to strengthen their democracy and the market economy. The EU's enlargement process therefore contributes to European security by building areas of stability and good government on Europe's borders. The continued enlargement of the EU should not be dependent upon entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

115.  We welcome the British Government's support for giving Ukraine an EU accession perspective.

116.  Chapter 2 of the ESS recognises the European interest in countries on its borders being well-governed. We agree with this aim, a key tool in which is the European Neighbourhood Policy for nations who are not, or not yet, potential candidate members. The ENP plays an important role in constructing security and stability in the EU's wider neighbourhood and sufficient resources should be allocated to enable it to be implemented effectively. Key subjects for action, both political and economic, will be the internal stability and economic well-being of the individual countries, migration and cooperation to combat terrorism.

Effective multilateralism

117.  The EU has sought to advance its agenda of effective multilateralism since the Strategy was adopted in 2003, notably by supporting reform of the United Nations, and more recently the international financial institutions. However, the UN reform summit in 2005 only achieved meagre results and failed to reform the organisation comprehensively; the deadlock in the Doha Development Round of world trade negotiations this summer was also a setback. This is the backdrop against which the EU's efforts to promote effective multilateralism since 2003 should be seen.

118.  Dr Solana reminded us that the term "effective multilateralism" had been coined by the EU in the Security Strategy and was now widely used. He had found the term increasingly used internationally in Russia, China, ASEAN and America. It was important to coin terminology which was agreed with others. For the success of effective multilateralism the Doha round of trade talks and 2009 UN climate change conference in Copenhagen would be very significant (Q 223).

119.  Whilst the term "effective multilateralism" is increasingly used, the definitions vary according to our witnesses. For Professor Kaldor, effective multilateralism was "moving towards an international order" (Q 116). Part of it was "strengthening that international rule of law, increasing our capacity for enforcement and that also means that sovereignty is a much more conditional concept than it ever was before." Overall Dan Smith emphasised that ensuring the smooth functioning of the world system or ensuring its better functioning as a multilateral system of rule-based/law-based international relations could be probably fulfilled with very little extra cost—perhaps none extra—compared to what was being spent at the moment. "That does not mean that it is a low priority, in fact I think it is fundamental" (Q 22).

120.  Effective multilateralism is a key pillar of the EU's security strategy. In particular, the EU's commitment to international law and a rules-based international system contributes to global peace and stability, and gives it influence and credibility as a reliable partner. The challenge now is to continue to build stronger international institutions, including the United Nations and the world's financial and trade systems.

Working with partners

121.  We found that the Commission and the Council Secretariat recognised the importance of working with other major players on security issues. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner acknowledged the importance of dialogue with third parties, such as China, Russia and the US, on issues such as desertification, diminishing water resources and climate change. "We alone will never be able to do things even if we try to go alone, even if we are the locomotive" (Q 172).


122.  Professor Heisbourg believed that one of the weak points in the 2003 document had been that it hardly ever talked about the USA. "That was the fruit of circumstances back in 2003 … this was the opportunity to make up. So nobody was going to ask hard questions as to what the positioning of the EU and its members on the one hand, and of the United States on the other, vis-à-vis each other, should be in the future" (Q 130). Other witnesses thought that the new French policy towards NATO opened up the possibility of a better relationship with the US.

123.  The then Europe Minister thought that there was a very strong opportunity for a better conversation about the relationship with the United States post-2003. The EU-US summit declaration in June 2008 had talked of "the transatlantic unity of purpose" which was the phrase used in the context of global threats and challenges and which would not have been in a declaration in 2003 (Q 385). Dr Solana told us that there had been contacts with both teams in the US presidential elections and their sympathy towards some of the EU's ideas was very strong (Q 223).

124.  Professor Bailes believed that there was now a chance to give positive signals towards the United States in terms of the direct EU/United States partnership and also on the EU/NATO relationship which had been too difficult to be discussed very much in the 2003 Strategy. The development in French policy had tipped the issue towards the positive side. She also proposed that "more NATO and more Europe" should be distinguished from "more rushing out into the world to do things, which has been very much the theme of the last five years and supported by this rather Westcentric top down approach of the EU strategy itself. We have fallen badly on our faces in some of those ventures but, perhaps more important … we have neglected many European issues … Europe is not going to find its right place in the world unless it clears up conditions of its own home space … [which] first of all involves the Euro/Atlantic relationship and secondly, the Euro/Asian relationship … which covers relations both with Russia and the Middle East." "The improvements in EU/US relations over the last four years which have been considerable have come very much out of prudence, exhaustion, out of neither side really wanting a fight and both realising that they are, after all, among each other's best partners" (Q 137).

125.  Dr Solana believed that the recent French intention to reintegrate into the military command of NATO also had consequences for a much better relationship between the EU and NATO on transatlantic matters (Q 225). In particular the test of the relationship would be Afghanistan: "Whatever is done there … involves both the European Union and NATO, we both have a responsibility ... If we do it properly that will allow us to go very far" (Q 241).

126.  Professor Heisbourg told us that the Americans were "responding very positively to the new French approach which is to leverage the move towards NATO as a means of also developing EU defence and security policy and capabilities and getting the two to work in synergy" (Q 134). As far as the wider relationship between the EU and NATO was concerned, both at headquarters and operational levels, Mr Andrew Mathewson (Director, Policy on International Organisations at the MOD) said that modest but insufficient progress had been made. The fact that the French government now saw NATO and the EU as being complementary was a "great step forward", but there were still serious problems. These problems were putting the success of the missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan at risk (Q 162).

127.  The EU's most important bilateral relationship is that with the USA. The inauguration of the new president in the US presents the EU with an opportunity to intensify the transatlantic dialogue on security strategy.

128.  In the area of traditional defence, the ESS recognises that the United States has played a critical role in European security, in particular through NATO. We welcome the expressed willingness of the French President to work more closely with the NATO structures. The objectives of the EU and NATO are different but we commend efforts by both organisations to align their strategic concepts as far as possible. Consideration should now be given to developing areas of cooperation with NATO, particularly as the majority of EU states belong to NATO.


129.  Most of our evidence, with the exception of that of the new Europe Minister, Caroline Flint, MP, was received prior to August 2008, and therefore does not take into account the outbreak of hostilities in Georgia during that month. These events refocused attention in a dramatic way on the potential threat posed by Russia to what it considers its "near abroad", that is countries which were formerly part of the Soviet Union. As we pointed out in our recent major report on the EU and Russia[19], since the enlargement of the EU to 25 and then 27, these countries now form a common neighbourhood between the EU and Russia. The armed conflict and continuing tensions between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia are therefore of immediate concern to the EU and the West in general, and especially to the EU Member States who were formerly part of the Soviet Union or of the Warsaw Pact. This, among other factors such as dependence on Russian gas (which we discussed in Chapter 3) has led to a renewed emphasis on Russia in the EU's security thinking.

130.  Caroline Flint told us that Dr Solana would only start drafting the part of the Strategy review on Russia once Member States had examined the audit of EU Russia relations (launched after the Georgia conflict) and in the light of progress at the Geneva talks in October. The assessment of EU-Russia relations had probably been the part of the review that had been most scrutinised by Member States (Q 401). However, despite the views of individual Member States and their relations with Russia, the EU had united with one voice in their reaction to the events in Georgia, following President Sarkozy's efforts and the agreement of 1 September in the European Council (Q 406).

131.  Caroline Flint believed that the EU had shown that "our Russian colleagues" had "overstepped the mark and were not behaving … in line with their responsibilities and also agreements that they had signed up to" but Member States had also taken a number of steps to avoid Russia's becoming isolated. This was not an easy task but the EU's response had demonstrated that the EU had acted "on a very difficult and sensitive issue … appropriately but also decisively as well". "Russia is an important country, it is an important partner on a lot of different international platforms …" (QQ 406, 416). The first Russian participation in an ESDP operation with the contribution of helicopters was planned for Chad which was good (Q 293)[20]. While the UK's position was to recognise that sovereign states should be able to seek to join NATO, it should also be appreciated that insecurities might exist on the Russian side. The EU should explore how to work in partnership with Russia, reassuring her that NATO should not be seen as a threat (Q 402).

132.  Robert Cooper considered that the international situation had changed in the last five years. China had become a much more prominent player and a potential partner; though the Chinese had not rushed forward eagerly "you find in areas like Darfur and Burma a different Chinese response now from five years ago. That is a bit of the landscape which has changed most prominently" (Q 292).

133.  Recent events in Georgia have underlined the importance of Russia for European security. We believe that the document to be adopted by the December European Council should refer to the challenge that Russia presents both as a partner and a source of risk and instability.

134.  Russia's future actions will depend partly on the response of the EU and its partners, and the rest of the world. The actions of the EU in sending an observer mission to Georgia and appointing a Special Representative over the summer of 2008 showed that the EU can act quickly when the political will to act is there. A continuing firm stance on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity will be needed, together with dialogue and sensitivity to Russia's genuine concerns. The review of the European Security Strategy should address these issues.


135.  We raised the question of relations with other organisations with our witnesses, and noted that the EU is now working with the OSCE in Georgia. The importance of working with the UN and regional organisations was raised by Kees Klompenhouwer. In Bosnia and Kosovo the EU was following on UN work and the EU was co-operating with the UN in Congo. He thought that co-operation with the African Union (AU) could be looked at in the context of training for missions (Q 33).

136.  Lieutenant-General Leakey spoke of operational co-ordination with the external agencies of the UN in Chad. The UN, and the Commission, had joined him on the initial reconnoitring missions, daily conferences had been held jointly and coherence had been good (Q 306). Having worked with NATO as well as the EU he believed that the two organisations were "not in competition but complemented each other. There are places where NATO cannot go, will not be acceptable … and the EU has a role to play" (Q 332).

137.  The importance of regional organisations was stressed by Maciej Popowski. The EU was very focussed on the African Union (AU) as a comprehensive organisation which had continental ambitions and was a key partner for the EU on Africa. The EU had already assisted the AU in managing peace operations like the one in Darfur under the Africa Peace Facility. This had been the first genuine attempt at mounting and conducting an African operation with very important support from the EU. A joint EU-Africa Strategy had been adopted and the EU also offered assistance in capacity building especially on security policy. Other important organisations for the EU were ECOWAS and SADC in Africa, and Pacific and the Caribbean fora, although the relationship was not at the same level of intensity as that with the AU (Q 216).

138.  In his comments to us Dr Solana also confirmed the importance of co-operation with the AU (Q 223) as did the Europe Minister. For Jim Murphy, the 2007 EU-Africa Strategy avoided most of the pitfalls of previous European African document which gave the impression that the Europeans had decided what would happen.

139.  In Brussels we were also told of the contribution of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as partners in the EU's work on the ground. Mr Cooper cited Kosovo where, in preparation for the police rule of law operation there had been very extensive contact with the NGOs who knew that sector very well (QQ 292, 293).

140.  Regional institutions are also essential in helping to maintain peace and stability, and the EU should continue to work closely with organisations where Member States have membership, such as NATO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. In addition, the EU should continue to build the relationship with the African Union, ASEAN and others, helping to build up the capacity of African peace and security institutions, including the early warning, dispute resolution and peacekeeping capacities of African regional and sub-regional organisations.

15   HL Deb 20 October 2008 Col 943 Back

16   British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's speech in Kiev on 27 August 2008,  Back

17   Conflicts which have not been resolved but where there are currently no active hostilities. Back

18   The Instrument for Stability was launched in September 2004 as one of six measures to replace the existing range of financial instruments for the delivery of external assistance with a simpler, more efficient framework. The aim of the Stability Instrument was to tackle crises and instability in third countries and address trans-border challenges including nuclear safety and non-proliferation, the fight against trafficking, organised crime and terrorism. Back

19   European Union Committee, 14th Report (2007-08): The European Union and Russia (HL 98) Back

20   On 5 November 2008, Javier Solana and the Russian Ambassador signed an agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation on Russian participation in the EUFOR Tchad/RCA operation, involving 4 helicopters and 120 soldiers. Back

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