Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 199-216)

Mr Maciej Popowski, Ms Daniela Dicorrado-Andreoni and Mr Paul Clairet

30 JUNE 2008

  Q199 Chairman: Mr Popowski, can I apologise that we are a moment or two late in getting across. Trying to be in two places at once is not even possible for Members of the House of Lords. As you probably know, we are undertaking an inquiry into the European Security Strategy in the light of the decision earlier this year that it ought to be reviewed and its implementation examined before the European Council came to consider it in December. We were very anxious to discuss with people from the Development Directorate-General the issues which affect you in terms of the European Security Strategy. We have a number of questions which my colleagues and I would like to discuss with you. I do not know whether you have an opening statement you would like to make or whether you would like to introduce your colleagues who are with you so that we have a note about them on the record too.

Mr Popowski: Thank you very much. Yes, I would like to introduce my colleagues. Thank you very much for the invitation, first of all. It is interesting for us to exchange views with you. My name is Maciej Popowski, I am Director for horizontal matters at the Directorate-General for Development. I am accompanied by Mme Daniela Dicorrado-Andreoni, who is in charge of the security and development nexus, to put it in simple terms. Paul Clairet, is an adviser in the Directorate-General who is also dealing with issues of security.

  Q200  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed. We will certainly want to come back to some of the issues which were initiated during the Portuguese Presidency and which we find of very great importance, particularly the case studies which you are now undertaking and the way forward you are working on fragile states because that element is clearly one of the important issues within the development of the Security Strategy. The original Strategy was developed by the Council and we wonder how far it really is an instrument for the Council or how far it is an instrument which influences the whole of the external actions of the Union, including those which come as direct responsibility of the Commission. In particular, given that your Directorate-General does carry out policy planning and draw up Country Strategy Papers, how far are they seen within the context of the wider Security Strategy?

  Mr Popowski: We very much hope that the European Security Strategy is not only a Council instrument. The Commission was involved in the elaboration of the original ESS in 2003 and now we are closely associated with the process as mandated by the European Council last year. Indeed, if we want to be serious about an update of the European Security Strategy we need to follow a comprehensive approach to security which goes beyond the classical pillar structure of the European Union. We really cannot act as if we are living in different worlds. From our particular point of view, the Directorate-General for Development, the most important issue is the link between security and development which was captured in the original version, the 2003 Security Strategy, and I have been using that very extensively—that is the original—stating that development is a precondition for security. We would like to go a little further down the road and elaborate on the concept that we need sustainable development in order for security to be sustainable. Of course, security considerations are being taken into account when we elaborate Country Strategy Papers, for example. We do it in different ways. I can only quote one important policy of ours, which is the Policy Coherence for Development, a concept which was developed in 2006. The main rationale of the Policy Coherence for Development is to make sure whatever we do in different policy areas of the European Union, it does not undermine the development goals as defined, for example, by the United Nations in the MDGs. That applies to security as well. In view of recent developments, let us say between 2003 and today, the importance of the nexus of security and development has grown, everybody can see that, and we need to engage in a comprehensive approach to security, especially in Africa, which we have done in Congo/DRC or Guinea-Bissau and to a lesser extent in Darfur, but I am sure we are going to come back to the issue of Darfur.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.

  Q201  Lord Hamilton of Epsom: Does the European Security Strategy provide a coherent and well-balanced assessment of the global challenges, threats and risks facing the EU? Should the Strategy pay greater attention to the underlying political and socio-economic sources of security threats in addition to the symptoms?

  Mr Popowski: The ESS has recognised that a distant threat may be as much of a concern as those that are near at hand. Originally the Security Strategy looked at the threats as identified in 2003, but we are living in a rapidly changing world and the map of threats has changed as well. We have this cluster of fragile states, terrorism and regional conflicts, but back in 2003 we were not entirely aware of the imminent threats linked to climate change, food prices, oil prices. Migration was covered in the original version, but the questions of climate change, food prices and oil prices were not. That requires a new focus and we have to look at security in a much broader way. The original version of the European Security Strategy did not pay enough attention to the question of insecurity in developing countries because that is exactly where some of the threats may and will originate from. In our internal discussions we spoke about the security risk and security costs of non-achievement of the Millennium Development Goals because if we fail to achieve them collectively it might produce devastating results in terms of human security, which I think will be the new focus of the revised Security Strategy. That is the Commission's point of view which was an input from the European Commission to the discussion adopted by the College of Commissioners some two weeks ago, and I am sure Mme Ferrero-Waldner touched upon that. That has to be mainstreamed in the discussion so that the more distant threats, but also those clearly linked to the poverty and development dimension, which means the use of human security, are discussed.

  Q202  Lord Hamilton of Epsom: You talk about the map of the threats and things changing over these five years, but there is a slight risk, is there not, that if you revise it then things change again so it becomes irrelevant again. Surely you want a very broad document which covers everything. Everybody we speak to says how wonderful the existing one is. Is there not a risk that if we add more and more things on to the next one it will mean more means less and it will be less effective? Surely the problem is implementation rather than what we put in the Strategy?

  Mr Popowski: I fully agree. The problem lies in the implementation because the original Security Strategy, to which I am very attached because in my previous incarnation in the Council I did take part in the elaboration, has stood the test of time but it can be improved and there we have to differentiate between the analytical part which needs some fine-tuning and the implementation part which is a different issue. There is room for improvement. When we look at what we have done over the last few years, we can say that we have achieved a lot, not because we had a Security Strategy but because we were forced by circumstances. For example, the EU-led operations, ESDP operations, in Africa and elsewhere, perfectly fit the framework of the Strategy but in a way they were forced upon us by circumstances. If we continue this discussion we must look into the implementation issue more thoroughly than before.

  Q203  Lord Anderson of Swansea: I imagine that the temptation for your Directorate is to include as much as possible of the development agenda within the European Security Strategy. Clearly there is quite a large part of the MDGs which are outside the immediate focus of security. Yes, the Maghreb is relevant and, yes, the Caucasus is relevant because their insecurity impacts on us directly as Europeans. It is less so in respect of, say, Congo or the Pacific Islands where there are resource interests and our interests are more marginal. How do you draw the line? Clearly some things have to be excluded which are within your own Directorate's remit that are not directly relevant to the Strategy which affects security.

  Mr Popowski: That is a good point but we need to draw a distinction between the development approach and the geographical approach. We know that the structure of the Commission is quite elaborate, I would say, and our DG is responsible for development and policies in our relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific States. We are not responsible for the Caucasus or Central Asia. From the development point of view some of these countries are developing countries, so if we talk about development considerations or the MDGs it is not only limited to Africa as far as the approach is concerned. If we speak about the Millennium Development Goals, these concern all the developing countries worldwide. We are not going to integrate our development policy fully into the new version of the European Security Strategy, but we would like to concentrate especially on the people-centred approach, human security, where the link with some development issues and Millennium Development Goals is very close.

  Q204  Lord Anderson of Swansea: You would accept that Congo, for example, is relatively marginal to a European Security Strategy?

  Mr Popowski: Congo is quite crucial to the security of the African Continent.

  Q205  Lord Anderson of Swansea: On that basis you can enlarge it indefinitely, I suppose, have all of Africa within this Security Strategy.

  Mr Popowski: We have a European consensus that Africa is quite crucial. We have our—

  Q206  Lord Anderson of Swansea: Not on security.

  Mr Popowski: Of course it is crucial from the security point of view. If things go wrong again in the Congo it can, and I sure it will, have a knock-on effect on Europe as well. That was why we decided to get engaged operationally in the Congo a few times. We have mounted two military operations and we are there with our policemen and military advisers in order to help the Congolese reform their security sector because we see it as a potential threat to the security of the Continent and if we want to be a responsible global actor we have to take that into account.

  Q207  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: That leads rather helpfully, I think, into a question I would like to ask you. What you have been saying about the interconnections between development policy and security is of course common ground to all Member States because they all signed the Outcomes Document on the UN Summit of 2005 which actually said that, so bringing that more clearly into focus in the European Security Strategy should not be a major development. One thing that has arisen since 2003 is the concept of the "Responsibility to Protect" which has been subscribed to by all our Member States. What I wanted to ask you was whether you thought that the review of the Security Strategy and its implementation could or should identify this as an area where the European Union should be able to make a contribution? So far the "Responsibility to Protect" has remained a pretty dead letter, it has proved very difficult to implement. My question really is whether the European Union should be indicating that in the period ahead it would try to identify ways in which a much wider view of the "Responsibility to Protect", which is, I think, closely connected to your reference to human security, should be taken.

  Mr Popowski: Absolutely true. I fully agree with your assessment that we have not gone far as far as the implementation of the Council's "Responsibility to Protect" is concerned. That was why we decided internally to concentrate in our thinking on the human security aspect, which is linked to the underlying assumptions of the concept of "Responsibility to Protect" and the concepts which were the basis of the Secretary General's report on Freedom from War and Freedom from Fear, for example, that are the root causes of many of the threats we are currently discussing. We see that the root causes of the current threats, the most imminent ones, lay not so much in the rivalry between states and ideologies but in physical and psychological pressures on populations in developing countries. That can have very grave consequences when oppression and poverty are key factors, but also loss of dignity, for example, or deprivation of human rights. The EU policies should be definitely focused on that. We have done some conceptual work on the issue of fragile states and our approach and assistance to fragile states. We have also addressed the issue of the security sector reform, which is linked to it, and a comprehensive approach to security. In the OECD it is being called a whole of government approach and we call it a comprehensive approach. Basically, if we want to establish governance in a fragile state and improve the living conditions of the population we need to be comprehensive, we cannot just go in, do something and pull out because the results would not be sustainable. That is very much our philosophy in continuing the discussion on the Security Strategy.

  Q208  Chairman: Is there a risk of what is sometimes rather unkindly called stove piping, that if we are thinking about fragile states and the interaction between development, security and good governance, one really does need to have the ideal of the Union's holistic approach and yet the institutions of the Union do not always ensure that that is as successful as it could be?

  Mr Popowski: I am afraid we are not there yet. Of course there is stove piping. There are parallel chains of command and that is why you have to see quite a number of people in Brussels today and not a single one.

  Q209  Chairman: That is what we are doing, which I am afraid is why we were late.

  Mr Popowski: We do what we can. When it comes to objectives, we really converge. We have a complicated institutional set-up that we have to overcome sometimes in order to deliver the best results. Within the Commission, which is only one side of the story, we try to make best use of the Policy Coherence for Development in the sense that we are really coherent in what we do. That is the Commission's concept, of course endorsed by the Council, but we cannot impose it on other players, Member States on the Council, but when it comes to improve objectives we are singing from the same hymn sheet. I do not know whether you would like to add something to this?

  Ms Dicorrado-Andreoni: The split between the focus on the situations of fragility and the security and development matters, on the other hand, was a split that caused some discomfort even in the European Commission because it is difficult to draw a line. The Council Conclusions asked us to focus in a stove piped way on two areas which are connected and difficult to make a distinction between. What we tried to do was in the implementation of the Council Conclusions to have an approach first of all on scrutiny of the situation focusing on country situations and we split the world quite artificially into countries which we would consider from a security and development nexus perspective and countries which we would consider under situations of fragility knowing that at the end of the day, and even during the process, we are keeping track of who is doing what on the other side. Even the decision on what country to choose for each of the two clusters was done in complementarity. We insisted on having South Africa under the security and development. Why South Africa? Because South Africa is not a real developing country, it has achieved security situations according to some standards but it has specific security issues and we wanted to know better how to go about it. Another implication of these two studies that we tried to gain out of this exercise was, as Mr Popowski said, to go for the comprehensive approach which for us is seen from the point of view of the EU-wide approach involving Member States, committing what each Member State is doing in "case studies" countries and how to pull together both what we do on this side and what is done on the side of Member States. If this belongs to the security and development nexus or a fragility of situation is quite irrelevant for the purpose of implementing the concept which is integrated into the Country Strategy Papers and the Regional Strategy Papers, a focus of attention which is fully integrated with everything that is done on trade, infrastructure, education, health, et cetera. I have to add that we do not only have these case studies on fragility, security development, we are not waiting for these studies to bring guidelines, guidance or action plans, we are putting into Regional Strategy Papers the very few focal sectors that we are requested to select. An important focal sector includes political dialogues, security issues, governance, so that the attention of our desks, delegations of Member States when we discuss about how to strategise with the regions or country is focused in terms of analysis and implementation on security, its wide-ranging implications. Today security is a word which is used so much, even to define stability. Either we go back to defining stability for what it is, but if we start talking about the European Security Strategy we have to take on board everything which has been indicated as security strategic objectives.

  Q210  Chairman: Could I just follow that up. One possible outcome from the December discussions would be to have the Security Strategy with relatively small changes but, linked to that, a decision from the Council on the actions in which one ought to try and develop action plans in order that there can be more effective implementation of the Strategy in the future. Would that seem to you to be a wise approach?

  Mr Popowski: We need to do something about implementation. We were very proud to adopt the Security Strategy in 2003 but it was not operational. In the discussions among experts and some of the authors of the original paper a clear conclusion that is emerging is we lack this operational dimension. Of course, we cannot write it into the paper because it would blow up the whole intellectual construction. Action plans, whatever we call them, could be a way out just to have an idea how we would like to implement and mainstream security considerations into different types of policies we are going to implement.

  Q211  Lord Anderson of Swansea: Action plans would have the benefit of flexibility without any modification of the basic text.

  Mr Popowski: I would say so, yes.

  Q212  Lord Anderson of Swansea: Presumably they would need to have timelines as well, dates within which various elements should be implemented.

  Mr Popowski: Preferably. I fully agree that we should not engage in that kind of exercise every three or five years whenever we see there are new threats emerging. We need to have a framework but also some policy instruments on how to implement what we have agreed upon at a strategic level.

  Q213  Lord Hamilton of Epsom: I think we are really talking about the same thing. Would you extend these action plans to cover Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, for instance?

  Mr Popowski: When it comes to geographical coverage, I would say so. The Security Strategy must have a global outreach. No security threats emerge from the regions we are responsible for in the Commission, but we need to have the same strategic and comprehensive approach to them and take the security considerations as outlined by my colleague into our programming work.

  Q214  Lord Anderson of Swansea: Clearly there are some problems which impact more directly on the interests of Europe. No doubt there will be a development policy in respect of Belize or Guyana, but things which go wrong there will not impact directly on our security interests. Do you accept that differentiation?

  Mr Popowski: I am afraid it is natural. We cannot be present everywhere and cannot do everything, nobody can, and that is not going to change in effective multilateralism. We need to continue to work on the basis of a global network of interlocking institutions and that will remain the backbone of our approach to security. In terms of operational engagement, for example, we need to be selective.

  Q215  Lord Anderson of Swansea: Clearly there is a corpus of experience since 2003 and the Union has learned not to crawl but not to run either, somewhere between the two. To what extent do you see a development of crisis management capabilities woven into the new document?

  Mr Popowski: We have a separate track. In the whole process of capacity development the Member States and the European Defence Agency are working on the Capacity Development Plan. It has to be covered one way or another. That is a crucial point, of course. We are trying to redefine our strategic interests in the Security Strategy but it has to be implemented and for that we need the capabilities, both military and civilian, and that is still the weak part. We talk about great projects, a Strategy, but when it comes to an operation there is always the same conclusion, we are lacking helicopters and policemen. It has never been any different. I went through that when I was working in the Council in the Political and Security Committee. Every time we were planning an operation we always faced the same difficulties. It has to be addressed, but I do not think we need to go into details of capability development in the Security Strategy. We have to maintain these parallel tracks.

  Q216  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Following up your line that the European Union cannot do everything everywhere, presumably in the area you are responsible for, for instance in the Pacific, the primary institution which deals with security in the Pacific is the South Pacific Forum really with the fragile states there. Could you say something about what the European Union and the Commission does to co-operate with them? For example, in the Caribbean presumably there are other international organisations like the OAS and CARICOM which have greater capabilities. In Africa, of course, there is the African Union and all the sub-regional and regional organisations. Do you feel that the European Union and the Commission are making an effective contribution to these regional and sub-regional organisations? Could we be doing more, or should we be doing more?

  Mr Popowski: We have the ambition to do more because we believe that the regional organisations play a crucial role. We see it in the context of effective multilateralism. You mentioned the African Union, which is the key partner for us on Africa and, as you know, we have adopted a joint EU-Africa Strategy. The African Union is a key partner to implement that. We are very focused on the African Union because it is a comprehensive organisation which has continental ambitions. We offer a lot in terms of capacity building, for example, especially when it comes to security policy. I will mention a genuine European instrument, the Africa Peace Facility, which was developed in order to help Africans manage peace support operations like the one in Sudan, in Darfur. That was the first African driven operation and, regardless of the outcome, it was the first genuine attempt at mounting and conducting an African operation with very important support from the European Union, mainly from the Africa Peace Facility which will continue under the tenth European Development Fund because it is being financed from the Fund. Other organisations are crucial as well: in Africa it is ECOWAS or SADC, and the fora in the Pacific or the Caribbean. I do not deal with them directly so I do not want to dwell on that, but perhaps we are not at the same level of intensity of relations as with the African Union but the African Union is a key partner in implementing our strategy.

  Chairman: Mr Popowski, I do apologise first that we were late and, secondly, we are going to be called away. Can I just say we have very much appreciated having the opportunity to have this meeting. Can I just say something which I hope will not be misunderstood. One of the things which we all do agree on in the United Kingdom as far as the European Union is concerned, although we disagree about some other things, is we are all advocates of enlargement and it does give us particular pleasure to see people from the Member States now playing such an active part in the Commission and helping us work together to solve problems. I hope you will accept that. I am very pleased to see you here playing such an important part in DG DEV. Thank you very much indeed.

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