Examination of Witnesses (Questions 164-179)|
Mrs Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Mr Patrick Child and
Mr Richard Wright
30 JUNE 2008
Q164 Chairman:Commissioner, it is extremely
kind of you to have found some time to see us. As you know, our
Committee is carrying out an inquiry about the review of the European
Security Strategy and we were very interested to come and get
the views in RELEX and of yourself and we are very grateful you
have brought your colleagues. We have a certain number of questions
which I think you have had some indication of which we would like
to talk to you about. I know you have to leave after half an hour
but it may be possible for us to continue with Patrick and your
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Absolutely.
Q165 Chairman: When they do speak,
if they could say who they are so that we have got it on the record.
Can I begin with the first question? How far do you feel that
the existing Strategy provides a coherent and well-balanced assessment
of the challenges, threats and risks facing the Union? Should
the Strategy pay greater attention to the underlying political
and socio-economic sources of threats in addition to the obvious
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Let me welcome you,
first of all. It is a great pleasure to meet you. On one of the
last occasions, unfortunately, I was not there, therefore I am
more enchanted to see you personally today. Of course, I have
known Lord Hannay for many, many years, and others, Lord Anderson
of Swansea. I am very happy to see you. Let me make two remarks
at the beginning and then I will go directly to your question.
You know that the European Commission has been associated fully
with the task of re-examining the implementation of the European
Security Strategy and particularly working on that now. The core
analysis of the 2003 Security Strategy remains clearly valid,
it is terrorism and non-proliferation. They are key threats to
our security and, of course, will remain so for a long time to
come, unfortunately. Therefore, the Strategy's emphasis on the
role of multilateralism is the best approach to promote peace
and security. At the same time, we also have to recognise that
the risks and threats to global security, and also the security
of our own citizens, have evolved. What we see on the global scene
is much broader including climate change, energy security, economic
insecurity and the threat of diseases, as well as in the last
few months questions of foodstuffs and food security. If you think
of bird flu, for instance, it has suddenly become a global issue.
Also, questions of migration have to be taken into account. This
is more or less what I want to see the Commission doing. In addressing
these issues, as well as terrorism and non-proliferation, we should
take into account more and more the fact that external and internal
EU policies are being blurred. That is very important. We have
seen this in the last few years and are working more and more
on both issues. For instance, I personally work a lot on questions
of energy security. We are going out and working on that as a
very horizontal question. I also would like to say what the UK
calls "drivers" in your paper about security in an interdependent
world, from our standpoint is highly important also. Personally,
I have always been involved in questions of human security where
the citizen is the main focus of concernif not for the
citizens, for whom do we make these policies? I have always had
this human-centred approach. This is what lies at the heart of
what we would like to contribute. While there is a need to develop
our analysis of threats and risks beyond CFSP, we should not develop
a concept of security that is so wide that it embraces the whole
of the EU's external action. This is a healthy debate and there
are still the development questions remaining. Under the French
Presidency, as you know, the questions will continue. Let me now
go into your first question.
Q166 Chairman: Thank you.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Let me say that
we should remember the context in which the European Security
Strategy in 2003 was submitted. This was particularly created
by the Iraq War and there it was essential to create a structure
around which EU foreign policy could coalesce, come together again.
It was essential to develop the EU's ESDP capacities also, both
civilian and military. This was reflected in the Council's wish
to reinforce the EU's capacities to act in international affairs.
We have contributed to that with a Communication called Europe
in the World. While this Strategy of 2003 did refer to the
global challenges and also the relationship between security and
development, as well as energy dependence, it focused on the threats
directly affecting CFSP and also on reinforcing the concept of
multilateralism within the United Nations. The threats and challenges
we face today cannot be fully addressed, we think, within the
confines of this relatively narrow definition of security and,
therefore, we think it has to be broader. There is also a clearer
understanding that threats and risks cannot be properly addressed
if their underlying causes are not equally addressed. This is
something I adhere to very much personally. I think it is important
we have both a more coherent and more efficient Strategy and,
therefore, it is good to go for the implementation of the Strategy.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.
Q167 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: One
of the things that has happened since 2003 is that the United
Nations has endorsed the concept of the "Responsibility to
Protect", which was in the Outcomes Document of the summit
of 2005, along with very much the analysis you have just given
us, which is that security issues go much wider than just WMD
proliferation and terrorism.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: I think so.
Q168 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: "Responsibility
to Protect", having been announced in 2005 and endorsed by
everyone, including all 27 Members of the European Union, has
remained a pretty dead letter since then, it has proved very difficult
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Yes, that is true.
Q169 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Each
time the subject comes up, first of all there is this almost exclusive
concentration on the military dimension, which is the last point
you would reach if all else fails, and also there has been a great
unwillingness to do anything about it. What I wanted to ask you
was whether you thought the review of the Security Strategy should
factor in "Responsibility to Protect" but also perhaps
promote the idea that the European Union could play a role in
reducing the tension around this issue and trying to get a more
sophisticated, nuanced approach to applying "Responsibility
to Protect" which does not leave us every time confronting
the simple question, "Do you or do you not use military force?"
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: You are absolutely
right in your first analysis. In Burma/Myanmar, the French at
least have mentioned this idea of "Responsibility to Protect",
but what do you do? It may be too late at that stage because you
can only go in with a military force and you cannot do these things
like that. We support the concept of "Responsibility to Protect"
which was endorsed at the 2005 UN World Summit. I was there and
I remember it very well. What we should try to do is go for a
"Responsibility to Prevent" first. That means going
in the direction that you have mentioned. It is one of the most
essential parts. Here the European Union can play a very strong
role. We have Peace building Commission, the Council of Human
Rights and all these matters are very important. Indeed, our soft
diplomacy, which I sometimes call smart diplomacy, as well as
the smart instruments that we have are very important. As I said,
there is always an underlying root cause and we have to consider
this much more. We have a lot of instruments, be it policy dialogue,
development co-operation, external assistance, trade policy instruments,
which are sometimes very important, social and economic policies,
and co-operation with international partners but also with civil
society. Indeed, we, the Commission, apply all of these instruments.
In all fairness, I must say that sometimes we do not have the
budget for everything, we could do much more. As you know, I have
clear budget lines and I am implementing the country programmes.
I would like to do more because very often if we changed these
we would have much less to think concerning the "Responsibility
to Protect". That said I think of Zimbabwe, Burma/Myanmar,
there are areas where you think you are impotent, you cannot do
anything, and when you try to do things and politically it is
Q170 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Commissioner,
you have said that you believe the essential Strategy of 2003
at its core remains valid and perhaps, therefore, the picture
just needs a few brushstrokes and a little emphasis here or there.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Exactly.
Q171 Lord Anderson of Swansea: One
of those presumably is climate change which has achieved a greater
salience since that time, and also what I suspect Tony Blair would
have called insecurity and the causes of insecurity, poverty and
climate change. Would you like to say a little more about those
areas where you think there needs to be greater emphasis, more
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Together with Javier
Solana I produced a special paper which looked at the multiplying
Q172 Chairman: Our Committee has
received it and is certainly including it very much in the study
which we are undertaking.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Thank you very much.
It is an important paper in that it shows what could happen if
we do not do things immediately by mitigating or adapting ourselves.
We speak about desertification, diminishing water resources, but
we even go as far as saying there are going to be conflicts because
clearly these are the most important human resources. What is
necessary, on the one hand, is an enhanced political dialogue
with all the third parties. On climate change this is now the
issue with all the important partners, whether it be China, now
Russia (we might talk about the Russia Summit afterwards), or
the United States of America or any of the other big players.
We alone will never be able to do things even if we try to go
alone, even if we are the locomotive. One of the underlying causes
is certainly the question of poverty. The poverty stricken are
always the people who are most affected and, therefore, we should
take a fresh look at the development strategy and the development
goals which are our guiding principles. Gordon Brown in particular
mentions, as he did at the European Council, that there should
be a new aim to really implement what is there, the 0.7 per cent,
which not every country has reached.
Q173 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Far
from that, most are failing.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Yes, but there are
others who are not. There are a few, of course, you are right.
Q174 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Clearly
climate change is also relevant to other key interests of the
Union, such as migration. To what extent do you believe that the
Union should give greater resources to help those countries most
affected by climate change, otherwise if we do not go to them,
they will come to us?
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Personally, as I
said before, in reality I think we would need a greater budget
for all of these matters because if we want to avoid them then
we have to prevent them, and preventing means working with them.
That goes for migration as well as health questions. We try to
tackle as much as we can but we have a certain limit and the limit
is the financial limit that we have because we cannot offer more.
Q175 Lord Anderson of Swansea: What
is the nature of the assistance that you would give to those countries
threatened by climate change?
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: We are giving assistance
for all the underlying questions that are there already, but in
the future we might target these things even more precisely. We
are working on the questions of helping them with water, with
food security, all of those most basic things that are necessary
for a human being. That is why I say human security as such is
very much at the centre of our thinking. Sometimes it is more
on the educational front, because this is also important, sometimes
more on the health front, sometimes both. We are targeting the
whole scope, but sometimes our programmes are not big enough in
order to be able to do that. From the side of the recipient countries,
I also need to see good governance because without good governance
a lot could go in the wrong direction. I am speaking in general
now of the world outside Sub-Saharan Africa where we have particularly
difficult conditions and my colleague, Louis Michel, is working
Q176 Chairman: Going back to the
point you make about more resources, it has been examined that
conflict prevention can be a very good investment.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: I think so.
Q177 Chairman: Spending money in
this way spares us spending a great deal more money if things
go wrong. This sort of cost-benefit analysis which, for example,
Professor Paul Collier of Oxford has been working on for some
time, suggests what a good return there is if this is used properly.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: I absolutely agree
with that. I do not know his particular analysis but that is exactly
what I feel. If it is properly used there is a big difference
that can be made over a certain time. You need time because some
of these are generational changes that we are doing.
Q178 Lord Hamilton of Epsom: Can
we move on to strategic objectives. What is the EU's definition
of effective multilateralism? What reference should be made to
it if the Strategy was to be revised?
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: First, we have been
working on the enlargement process which is a very important instrument
per se to have a much better strategic objective on security matters.
We have also been working on the Neighbourhood Policy which has
an important component of strategy on security. By the way, we
are trying to do much more on frozen conflicts. Going further,
we have developed a specific instrument which is the so-called
Stability Instrument and Richard Wright is leading on this particularly
in the CFSP area. I must say that sometimes with only small amounts
of money, we can do quite important things. If you think of Aceh,
if Aceh really was a great success I can boast that President
Ahtisaari got great support from us, or in the Western Balkans.
We use this Stability Instrument more and more on the one hand
in the Middle East and, on the other hand, in the Caucasus, even
in North Africa. We see that sometimes with smaller things that
can be done quickly we can make a contribution sometimes to resolving
or preparing the ground for resolving something. We are now extending
our scope of partnerships very strongly to the global players,
that is the US, Canada, Japan, but also China and India. This
is very important. This Stability Instrument also helps respond
to crises and it is rapidly available because we can use it for
six months and then a further six months and can establish it
very quickly in order to stabilise conditions that are necessary
for development. We can go for contracts immediately which we
cannot do on normal development policy which, on the one hand,
is good because of the financial control but, on the other hand,
sometimes takes too much time and we cannot immediately show a
difference. Here very often we can work within six to eight weeks.
That is what we have tried to push in this new 2007-13 Financial
Q179 Chairman: I watch the time with
concern, but I would like to pick up two things that you said
there, and on this issue you might wish to go off the record.
Frozen conflicts and relationships with Russia. I got the impression
that at least over lunch in Siberia that there was some discussion
about the possibility of the EU continuing to play a rather useful
role in the Southern Caucasus and perhaps particularly in Georgia.
Obviously, as we have been concerned about these matters we would
be very interested if you did feel either on the record, or we
could stop taking a note if you felt it was more appropriate,
you could comment.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: I think it might
be better to do it off the record.