Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180-198)|
Mrs Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Mr Patrick Child and
Mr Richard Wright
30 JUNE 2008
Q180 Chairman: We would be grateful
if you would spend a few moments bringing us up-to-date on some
of the flavour of Khanty-Mansiysk.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: First of all, it
was a well chosen site. Khanty-Mansiysk is a small town in Siberia
that nobody would know, except for the future because it might
be the Houston of Russia. (The answer was continued off the record)
Q181 Chairman: Thank you very much
indeed. We have come to the end of your half an hour.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Thank you very much
for that because I have a few other meetings this morning.
Q182 Chairman: What we feel is if
we honour these sorts of things we are more likely to get a good
response the next time we issue an invitation. Thank you very
much. We do know from our previous experience with your colleagues
that we always get very good answers from the whole of your team.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner: Thank you very much
for the efficient way you have handled this meeting because it
was really to the point. Thank you very much. I will leave you
with Patrick Child, who is my Head of Cabinet, and Richard Wright,
who is the Director for the Common Foreign and Security Policy,
which is a key area.
Q183 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Clearly
there has been some success since 2003 in stabilising in the Balkans
and movement in North Africa, the Maghreb, where the Commissioner
has had a very strong personal interest. Where do you think the
main changes are which require rewriting, updating in the ENP
Mr Child: I do not expect the present
revision of the Security Strategy to get very deeply into specific
geographical relationships. However, maybe slightly separately
from that discussion, in the spring the Commission presented its
latest analysis of the implementation by the different partner
countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy. Here in
particular we have recommended a group of four countries individually
which we think have made most progress within the existing framework
of the Neighbourhood Policy where we think upgraded relationships
of one sort or another are justified. The four countries are,
in the east, Ukraine and Moldova and, among the Mediterranean
partners, Israel and Morocco. Now, as we work on the basis of
the analysis in these annual reports that we presented a few months
ago, we are looking more and more on a differentiated basis taking
account of the different situations that might arise. We are also
considering how we can further consolidate the give and take of
the relationships with those countries in this new upgraded, strengthened
context. The European Neighbourhood Policy is a relatively young
policy which is still finding its feet to some extent. The finding
of its feet is complicated by some of the other initiatives that
we sometimes see. The Union for the Mediterranean, for example,
started life as an initiative which was primarily outside the
established EU context. In discussions over recent months, confirmed
by the European Council Conclusions of a couple of weeks ago,
we have now clearly anchored it within the Community policies
and I think that is the right place for it to be. Similarly, as
some Member States have looked to the south, that has created
incentives and further interest from other Member States to think
about whether there are new ideas for the eastern partners, and
also in the discussion at the last European Council we were considering
some ideas from Poland and Sweden for a new form of enhanced partnership
with some of the eastern countries in the Neighbourhood Policy.
The challenge for us is to make sure that this very welcome political
momentum created by Member States is channelled in a way which
is constructive and helps us to make progress on the agenda that
we have with all the countries.
Q184 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Morocco
has been massively rewarded comparatively as a result of its progress
and the amount to Israel is pretty vestigial, is it not? If that
were to be enhanced, would that complicate relations with Libya
and other Maghreb countries?
Mr Child: The comparison between Morocco
and Israel is a very good illustration of the need for a differentiated
policy. We have a very different relationship with Israel where
we do not have significant financial assistance programmes because
that is not necessary for Israel.
Q185 Lord Anderson of Swansea: It
is technical co-operation.
Mr Child: Where there is political commitment
to the relationship, the inclusion of Israel in some of the EU's
policies and agencies is a very promising area of mutual benefit,
whereas in the relationship with Morocco the financial assistance
component is also extremely important. That said there are many
other important matters that we discuss with Morocco, and I just
highlight the need to make progress on the readmission agreement
that we have been preparing with Morocco in the context of the
migration debate which the Commissioner mentioned as one of the
issues of insecurity.
Q186 Chairman: Could I just ask you
one question from what you have just said. There almost seem to
be things going in opposite directions. On the one hand, I think
quite rightly, positive conditionality does lead to differentiation,
and should, but, on the other hand, both the upgrading of a process
which some people have thought was moving rather quietly, the
Barcelona process and the Union for the Mediterranean, suggests
that one can have a homogenous process in one direction in the
same way the Eastern Partnership suggests that one is treating
the whole of a group the same. On the one hand, one seems to have
moves from Member States wanting to have homogenous approaches
to a sub-region or a part of the world and, on the other hand,
the other approach of the Neighbourhood Policy, as it has been
developed here, has been this differentiation and demonstrating
positive conditionality and perhaps this is an incentive to other
people to follow in the example of people who have improved already.
Mr Child: It is not necessary to make
quite such a distinction between the two. There are things that
make sense to discuss with the Mediterranean partners as a group,
and many of those, I am sure, will be present at the summit which
will be held in Paris in July to kick off the Union for the Mediterranean
process, yet I think it is very important that we continue to
work on a bilateral basis and on the basis of the action plans
that we have with the countries covered by the Neighbourhood Policy
on the specific issues which are relevant in our relations there.
There is not a contradiction between the two, but it is important,
as your question poses, my Lord Chairman, to keep the two elements
present in the thinking.
Q187 Chairman: Can I just pursue
one other problem. Again, looking at the document when you reviewed,
let us take the examples of Algeria on the one hand and Belarus
on the other, in one case the issues of stability and perhaps
energy security play rather more part and would appear to lead
our concerns, and in another one would see rather more attention
to the promotion of good governance, democracy and human rights.
Within our own approaches to our neighbours there even is a variation
and a differentiation presumably because of our economic and other
Mr Child: We have to treat all our partners
on their merits and as we find them. Quite a lot of the EU's energy
is travelling across the territory of Belarus, so even if Belarus
is not an energy producer like Algeria we need to have that as
part of our discussions with them. It is true that the commitment
and the level of interest in Algeria to full participation in
the European Neighbourhood Policy has been influenced by their
specific situation as a major energy supplier. This is something
specific to that relationship which is not the case for the other
partners that I mentioned. Libya is an energy producer but it
has a different set of factors in the relationship and we are
working there with a new agreement with Libya, Morocco and other
North African countries.
Q188 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Back
to the Union for the Mediterranean. President Sarkozy's original,
rather flamboyant concept was of a self-standing group. Now it
has been modified substantially. Is the Commission content that
the role of the Commission perhaps in terms of secondments to
the Secretariat in terms of the other relationships on particular
projects is now wholly acceptable?
Mr Child: Yes. You may have seen a communication
which the Commission presented a few weeks before the recent European
Council meeting where we, following the mandate that we received
from the previous meeting of the European Council
Q189 Lord Anderson of Swansea: The
Mr Child: Yes. We set out our ideas for
the modalities for the Union for the Mediterranean. We are very
pleased that it is that basic formula, including the institutional
aspects between the Secretariat and the Presidency, but also in
terms of the first concrete projects that we think this Union
for the Mediterranean could help to make progress with. Most of
our ideas, if not all of them, have been very much taken up in
the European Council Conclusions and we expect this communication
to have a very strong influence on the statement which is presently
being prepared for the Summit.
Q190 Lord Anderson of Swansea: So
no remaining concerns?
Mr Child: We are happy with the way that
things are going.
Q191 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: The
Commissioner mentioned enlargement, rightly in my view, as a key
part of the European Security Strategy and I suppose it comes
in the same context as the Neighbourhood Policy to some extent,
it is our part of the world. To what extent is what is being said
about the effects of the non-ratification so far of the Lisbon
Treaty on enlargement really knocking away a large chunk of this
Strategy? Surely a strategy that is going to be adopted in December
is going to have to say very firmly, if it is to have any meaning,
that enlargement continues and enlargement is an essential part
of the European Union's response to the security problems in its
own region. Is there not a risk that this policy is coming apart
in that respect?
Mr Child: I think it is very important
that the Union sticks to its commitments in relation to enlargement,
and that was the message which came from the European Council
Conclusions of last week. The message on the Lisbon Treaty, although
of course we have to take account of what has happened in Ireland,
that there is a strong hope among large numbers of Member States
that it will be possible to implement the Treaty, that the improvements
in the functioning of the Union that that Treaty is intended to
deliver will also help to strengthen and improve the way we go
forward on enlargement. I am absolutely with you on the importance
of enlargement as one of the strategic objectives of the Union
and very much hope that the Treaty will be able to come into force
and help us to consolidate that policy.
Q192 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Surely
the requirement that for the European Union's security you need
to continue with a policy of enlargement exists whether or not
Lisbon is ratified? The method of carrying it out would be affected
by whether Lisbon is implemented or not, but not that it is a
security requirement for the European Union, that is my point.
After all, who knows, we may have to live without Lisbon, in which
case that does not knock away enlargement as a security policy
requirement or opportunity.
Mr Child: I agree with you. Our capacity
to address this particular, very important security objective
will be affected by the future of the Lisbon Treaty. I am not
in a position today to assume that the Lisbon Treaty will not
be ratified; on the contrary, I hope that it will be and we will
get both things together. 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
Mr Wright: To add one footnote. In the
Balkans, all countries now have an SAAStabilisation and
Association Agreementas well as dialogues leading towards
visa liberalisation. These are very important elements of building
up a more secure environment in Europe. The conclusion of an SAA
for Serbia during the election period certainly was an important
political signal which does seem to have had some effect. Things
are moving forward with these countries. It is going to take a
long time, no doubt, but we are very much engaged. You are fully
aware of what is going on in Kosovo and we are now advancing towards
the full deployment of the ESDP civilian mission, the largest
by far. In Bosnia next year there is the prospect, we do not know
when, at some point, of the OHR giving way to a European Union
structure. There are positive developments going on in our immediate
environment that are important to reaffirming of security in Europe.
Q193 Lord Hamilton of Epsom: Can
I be clear on what you said about the Lisbon Treaty, that you
saw it being implemented by a number of countries and not by others.
The British have said they are not prepared to implement, have
Mr Child: I do not think I said that.
The Commission is very hopeful that the Treaty will be ratified
by all countries, and we are very happy that as many countries
have ratified as they have, including the United Kingdom.
Q194 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: The
existing Strategy talks about the EU being more "active,
capable and coherent". What are the instruments at the disposal
of the Commission in this area of the security threats and do
they need to be strengthened? How far do Pillar 1 instruments
contribute to stabilising and improving governance in fragile
states, for example?
Mr Child: I will let Richard Wright comment
as well. The Commissioner referred in her opening remarks to our
document on Europe in the World.
Q195 Chairman: Which we read the
Mr Child: Yes, indeed, which we discussed
with you before. This very much underlines the increasing interplay
between the internal and external policies. Some of the issues
that the Commissioner mentioned are increasingly on the agenda
in our discussions with strategic partners: energy, migration,
transport, environment. They are things where, as our internal
agenda progresses and as we make progress on our internal policies,
so the impact on our external relationships becomes greater. It
is in these areas first and foremost that I see us making a contribution
to the thinking in the latter part of this year on how we can
complement the existing supporting Strategy to make it more our
version drawing on our policies which we are managing to a greater
extent internally and also when it comes to their external projections.
The Commissioner's example of discussions with the Russians in
the last couple of days on energy is very relevant in this respect.
Chairman: We are under some pressure of time
because we are meeting people from the Directorate-General Development
at noon at UKRep. I would like to ask Lord Hamilton to ask the
Q196 Lord Hamilton of Epsom: I have
been asked to ask you about the extent to which the Commission
has inputted into the review of the European Security Strategy.
I think that has been answered because you have given us a paper
and so forth. I would like to ask a totally different question.
Everybody we have talked to have very much said that the existing
European Security Strategy is short, pithy and easy to understand,
the problem is implementation. I was slightly alarmed by your
Commissioner because she seemed to have an extremely long shopping
list of things she wanted to add in. Is not the effect of this
that you then dilute the effectiveness of the existing Strategy,
you open up a lot of areas for argument and discussion when really
the problem with the Strategy today is it has not been implemented.
I would be much happier to see much more emphasis being placed
on the implementation of the Strategy rather than rewriting the
Mr Wright: The mandate from the European
Council is on implementation and we are charged to look at the
implementation, how to improve the implementation, and identify
elements to complete the strategy, so it is three parts of the
same exercise. There is a general consensus from the first discussions
we have had with Member States that the existing concept needs
to be enlarged. Certainly I do not think there will be any disagreement
on energy security, climate change, perhaps food security, but
how far you push out the frontiers remains to be seen. As the
Commissioner indicated, perhaps understandably from where we are
coming from in the Commission, we would certainly like to go beyond
that. You are right to point out that the existing Strategy is
essentially a concept. A strategy would have implementation plans.
There were three or four implementation fiches last time, but
I do not think they had a big impact. A question that will be
discussed this time is to what extent the final Strategy should
have attached to it certain plans for implementation. If you look
at the recent interesting French White Paper on Defence and Security,
they have very clear ideas both on the military side to strengthen
capabilities as well as on the civilian side. We will have to
see what the mood amongst Member States finally will be on this.
On the civilian side, we in the Commission are already doing things.
We are helping to train police who will participate in future
European missions; there is a dearth of police and in every mission
that comes up we need thispolice, prosecutors, judges,
customs officials. There is a lot that can be done here to strengthen
European capabilities. On your fundamental point, the implementation
is crucial. From our side we are open to broadening, to have some
clearly focused action plan. We should not necessarily duplicate
what is already there; we have a plan on energy security, it is
just a question of recalling it. There may be other areas where
we want to give specific direction for implementation subsequently
Q197 Lord Hamilton of Epsom: Are
we talking about targets there for capabilities, do you think?
Mr Wright: Or maybe just recalling things
that we have agreed to that have not been implemented, like targets
in terms of military capabilities, civilian capabilities, headline
goals. We need to deliver. We have done 17 ESDP missions roughly
since the beginning of 1999, most of them civilian, but there
are two ongoing military ones. I do not think the demand for intervention
by the European Union is going to diminish; on the contrary, I
think it will increase.
Q198 Chairman: We have also got to
do them better. If we look at the police mission in Afghanistan,
which we are perhaps going to make some inquiries into, we are
very concerned that we are not very good yet at knowing how to
do that sort of thing.
Mr Wright: There were teething troubles
at the start, I think everybody knows this. We are getting it
together now but it is an extremely difficult environment in which
to operate. There is a commitment now from the Council to further
strengthening it, even up to doubling it, and Germany has indicated
its readiness to deploy two times the number of police officials,
which is very good from their side. I will not hide from you it
is a challenge and it is also a challenge to get people to go
Chairman: Can we say thank you very much indeed.
As you know, you are the part of the Commission which we feel
we relate to and are always delighted that you are so ready to
see us and help us with our inquiries. We will be unlikely to
complete this before we come back after the summer recess but
we hope it will be available before the final decisions are made
in the December Council. Thank you very much indeed for your help