Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-239)

Dr Javier Solana

30 JUNE 2008

  Q220  Chairman: A sub-strategy.

  Dr Solana: --- another document that develops an action plan. The same has to be done for energy security and on other issues, for instance on climate change where we already have a document.

  Q221  Chairman: A very good document.

  Dr Solana: We have to keep updating that. If possible, we want to have it as action documents attached to keep the dimension of the document as it is. My fear, and you will know why I say this, is if we go through paragraph by paragraph we may have a paragraph from each country or something like that. If we want to do something which is significant I will try to avoid as far as possible countries putting in phrases that they want specifically.

  Q222  Lord Hamilton of Epsom: Can you gloss over Russia? Russia is going to be a bone of contention, is it not, it is going to divide rather than unite?

  Dr Solana: The problem we will have with Russia is how to balance Russia as a strategic partner and Russia as a neighbour. That is the balance that has to be struck. We can debate and come to an agreement on that, but to put it in written form is very difficult. We are seeing that in just about every issue that comes to the table that is Russia related. Russia is an important actor in international affairs and at the same time we have the problem with the neighbourhood. Another problem that you will know of very well is the structural situation in Russia today. I came from Siberia on Thursday or Friday where we had the first formal meeting with President Medvedev and the day after we sensed some of the consequences or reactions, some positive but others not so positive. This is going to be a tricky point to handle. These are the issues that we have, plus how we deal with Georgia or Moldova, which is more of a neighbourhood problem.

  Q223  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Thank you very much, Secretary-General, for that splendid overview. Just to say at the outset that I think most of us who have been looking at this for about two months now have enormous sympathy with your intention not to fundamentally change the 2003 document and certainly not to turn it into a kind of Christmas tree on which everybody hangs the thing that they most like and it becomes ridiculous. There is very strong support for that approach. On the other hand, listening to the various briefings we have had, it does strike me that, whereas the 2003 document arrived at a particular conjuncture when relations with the United States were very bad and it was seen as a way somehow of restoring a more healthy attitude and showing the United States that we were not going to remain divided on every issue as we had been divided over Iraq, I am not sure that the same trick can be played a second time because the circumstances are rather different. As you say, there are other issues like what we, the EU, are going to do about Russia or China that have somehow got to be mentioned, although not obviously described in this document. Surely there has to be a stated intention by the 27 to do better than they have done in the past, to have a proper strategic partnership and not just a ragbag of every odd EU issue that happens to come up. It would be very interesting to us to hear how you think that circle can be squared. We are not suggesting you should put the strategy towards Russia into the document because then the question will be, "What about your strategy towards China, ASEAN" or whatever it is. Could I mention one point that I find very interesting, which is the concept of effective multilateralism which I am sure is going to be sustained and it must be one of the bedrocks of European foreign policy, but things have happened since 2003, for example the "Responsibility to Protect", or rather it has been written down on paper but it has not happened, to be more exact, in Darfur or wherever you like to think about it, and we are seeing the agonies going on over Zimbabwe as another example of that. I wonder whether it would not be a useful thing to at least ensure that the European Union in the future addresses that in a bit of a less black and white way which has managed to create great tensions for the developing world without actually getting any protection for anyone, and to try to have an approach to that, because I think the Europeans probably have got something to say on that. They are not a military resort at any price group, quite the contrary, in fact it is very difficult to see them producing military resources somewhere in Africa or Asia at all. It would be good if that could be brought within the scope of the next period.

  Dr Solana: I have taken note of three or four points. It is true that 2003 was a very specific moment in our common history, but this is over and we are going to have an election in the United States by the time the Strategy is approved. I am trying to see how much we can put ideas together that could be found in this document and also in a document from the United States that will be done at around the same time or a little bit after. We have been in touch with both teams and their sympathy towards some of these ideas is very strong. I do not know if there will be an administration in place by then which is able to discuss formally, but to have a sense of where things are going, a sense of direction, would be very good. Let me go to effective multilateralism for a moment. I was very surprised in 2003 that the words "effective multilateralism" were used by no-one but today, wherever you go, in Russia, in China, ASEAN, America, the world "multilateralism" comes up and always accompanied by "effective", which is something we helped to coin. The type of terminology that we are able to coin is very important. If we could find that here, it would be very good. There is no doubt that documents of this type are going to be written in the coming period of time. In as much as we can find common language on important issues that would be very good. Climate change is a perfect example. This is the first problem to which a solution has been found by everybody. No single country can find a solution alone. It is a good moment to try to coin terminology and if necessary to be more specific on where we are heading with other countries. This has been done already with the United States. We will have a meeting before the end of July to look at these issues and the big questions on the agenda today and see how much we can co-operate together and use terminology together. I would not say with the new administration because we do not know what the new administration will be, but think-tanks, people we know are important in the building up of concepts, et cetera. On effective multilateralism, it is very, very important that we keep on talking about that. To my mind, we have two big challenges on that issue. One is Doha and the other is Copenhagen. They are not a year from now, Doha is tomorrow. It seems to me that a big effort has to be made, not only because it is beneficial to the economic situation to have trade agreements but because if we do not get that it will be very difficult to get Copenhagen. The countries with emerging economies, if we talk to them, the Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, et cetera, they are waiting for more than a gesture; but a reality. I think it will be much easier to do it in Doha, for them to see or feel we are credible and we will engage, we are taking them seriously, than to engage them on climate change where the sacrifices, the problems, may be much more difficult to handle. If we do not get something on Doha it will be much more difficult to get them engaged on climate change. For us, climate change is fundamental in that we are the catalytic motor or engine of the climate change deal. We should not forget that Doha is a Development Round. This is the essence of Doha. So we cannot be ungenerous when we are talking about the Round. But due to the political situation and the crash in the economy the reflections of some countries, even Member States, are a little bit more conservative. I am worried about that. Whatever dynamics we may create, even in the writing of this document, it is very important that we believe in effective multilateralism. If the WTO fails, what is left on effective multilateralism? We have a really important decision to be taken there. The third thing is our relations with others. In 2003 we said a lot about countries and institutions and from there we have had experiences which are a little bit deeper such as with the African Union. It is very important not only to say it but to construct more on African Union co-operation. Yesterday I was talking with the new President of the African Union, and after the meeting at Sharm El Sheikh, we exchanged views and talked about it, and it is important that is reflected and is done. It has to be reflected in a much more important manner, ASEAN, the African Union and other groupings of countries, and at the same time we have to do it. We have challenges there which are very, very important. The last thing I would like to say is on "Responsibility to Protect". This is a very dear idea for us, but not so dear for others. The problem we have had with other countries is that they see everything through that potential prism that signifies military action and you cannot discuss that with Egypt; for example, it is impossible. Responsible sovereignty is terminology we have to begin to use and possibly link it with climate change. You do things in your own countries that have repercussions outside, for instance through CO2. If you put the two things together, what you do in your country may be dangerous for others and what you do in your country influences others. If we have a responsibility to protect and responsible sovereignty in a package that may be easier together. Let us see how we can put that into the debate. Let us see if we can make some headway in that direction.

  Q224  Lord Anderson of Swansea: No-one will be against effective multilateralism, even the incoming US administration, whoever it is. No-one will be against responsible sovereignty. No-one will be against capabilities, although people will not deliver on capabilities. No-one will be against the MDGs, although we note that the actual amount spent by most of our European partners has decreased over the past year. Do you not see a problem of moving from declarations to implementation? Do you realistically think that rallying around what is a grand concept is going to persuade any country which is currently falling behind on its military side or in terms of its aid contribution to alter its conduct one whit?

  Dr Solana: I am an optimist, otherwise I would not be here.

  Q225  Lord Anderson of Swansea: So am I!

  Dr Solana: When I look back I find things that go in that direction, although you might say not in the rhythm required. When you see that we have already been engaged in more than 20 operations in the world. They may not be huge operations but to have the European Union acting in peacekeeping operations is helping. Some are military, some are civilian. We have been in Indonesia. It was a small operation that came after the tsunami but helped to get the bilateral agreement implemented, together with some ASEAN countries. Sometimes they are little things that can bring the added value. It is true that much more should have been done, but what has been done was not cheap. If this conversation took place a month or two months ago I would have been much clearer. I may have doubts today because I know some of the questions on the Treaty of Lisbon are on defence, which at the end is capability. We have structured co-operation. We know what it means, structured co-operation is about capabilities. In a way this is a good criterion, that if you want to belong you have to contribute. I do not know how this is going to be handled after the referendum. If that is kept in the Lisbon Treaty that is one step that is very important. On capabilities, I think some of the countries that are opting out now will opt in. Denmark, for instance. That is because a new climate has been created. Otherwise why would they want to change? With all the caveats, the economic crisis et cetera, we have seen the document by the French which is an interesting document because it goes in the direction of effectiveness. It is important also that France is moving into NATO which has consequences for a much better relationship between the two organisations on transatlantic matters. There are some things which are coming which go in that direction, not dramatically but slowly and clearly in the right direction.

  Q226  Lord Anderson of Swansea: On climate change, do you think there will be agreement on specific measures to help developing countries respond to climate change? If so, what is the range of help which you think the Union can give?

  Dr Solana: You ask me if I think it will be possible I say, yes, it is possible. Is it going to be easy? No, it is not going to be easy. It is going to be a very difficult agreement to make binding because with important countries like China or India it is very difficult to get binding objectives. But we have to continue fighting for that. In the European Union, which is leading the catalytic effort to get an agreement, we have to put things on the table which are important. Your Prime Minister has made some statements in the same direction. The objective has to be to make it binding but at the same we will probably have to be much more aggressive on amounts per capita. Maybe we can find an agreement. The United States have said very clearly, and President Bush told us very clearly the other day, that without engagement from China and India they will never sign. I do not think it is impossible but it is difficult and we will have to do a lot on technology transfer, be constructive on intellectual property laws and maybe touch on something there. It will require a lot, but it is not impossible.

  Q227  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Could I just ask you a question about enlargement because I think the 2003 Security Strategy somewhat took enlargement for granted, which was reasonable enough because the European Union was about to increase its numbers and we had already begun to go down the road towards opening negotiations with Turkey, Macedonia and Croatia, and given certain undertakings at Thessaloniki to the other countries in the Balkans. It seems to me that everyone from one side of the political spectrum to the other accepts that the prospect of enlargement, which could one day come to include, let us say, the Ukraine as well, is something that is absolutely crucial to any European Security Strategy. A European Security Strategy which said, "The 27 Members of the European Union, that is the end, line drawn, no more", would be a completely different Security Strategy from the one that says there are a number of countries out there who will ultimately become members if they can accept the responsibilities of membership and conform to our criteria. Most of us would argue it is a better Security Strategy and that the other one saying, "27, that's it", is a disastrous European Security Strategy with all sorts of damaging implications, particularly in the Balkans but also with Turkey. At the moment, not only is the Turkish situation very fraught both for internal Turkish reasons and also because of the attitude of the incoming Presidency, but people are starting to throw around rather loosely talk about "No Lisbon, no further enlargement", which strikes me as highly irresponsible because if we have to continue on the basis of Nice plus some pragmatic efforts in the direction pointed to by Lisbon we could certainly not say "no enlargement" without damaging the Security Strategy. I wondered if you could say how you thought you could get round that. On a final, quite different issue, can you factor in what is becoming quite a big element in the American election campaign, which is the move back towards multilateral nuclear disarmament and how Europe can fit into that.

  Dr Solana: (The answer began off the record) On nuclear disarmament, that is a beautiful question and I think we have an opportunity here. We have an opportunity with the new administration. You know there are bipartisan efforts in that direction and we are co-operating with them. How do we deal with it? That will depend very much on how it is looked upon by the UK and France. If you help I think we can do a lot on that issue and create a climate which will be a catalyst for disarmament. I was in Geneva on Wednesday at the UN Conference on Disarmament. I was asked to speak by the Member States and I will give you a copy of my speech. It created a certain impact because nobody has revitalised the situation. Ban Ki Moon was there six months ago. We have an opportunity to do something along that line and I am very optimistic about McCain's and Obama's teams. I think it will be possible not only on the numbers but on the posture, and the two things have to be done. That will put us in a much better position for dealing with Iran.

  Q228  Chairman: 2010?

  Dr Solana: The Review Conference in 2010 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty will be quite an important event for non-proliferation.

  Q229  Chairman: It is something which we have raised also in London.

  Dr Solana: It would be good if you could help.

  Q230  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Public statements by the British Government are pretty helpful so far, there have been two or three speeches now.

  Dr Solana: There are two things. One is the principle, and I agree that you are moving in that direction very rapidly. The other is, is the European Union the place where we can talk about this? I think it should be. We need to create a positive climate and that is the other part on which you have to help a little bit.

  Q231  Lord Hamilton of Epsom: Going back to the Security Strategy, it calls on the EU to be more "active, capable and coherent". To what extent do you think the EU has actually delivered on this commitment and should part of the Strategy be revised or strengthened? I think you have somewhat answered that in terms of thinking it should be pretty minimalist.

  Dr Solana: That phrase in the text relates also to the Lisbon Treaty even if Lisbon Treaty was not yet conceived. If the Treaty were to be ratified and implemented there is no doubt that it would be easier to be done, no doubt about that.

  Q232  Chairman: One of the important areas I would like to come on to is that threats and challenges increasingly are not coming from enemy states classically, but because of fragile states which implode and, therefore, create a lot of problems in a whole variety of ways for us, unstable states which spread. Here there are some questions because quite clearly if this is to be effective it needs the potential of the European Union to bring together instruments which are able to work in the security, governance and development areas and can work effectively together. Yet we all know for a number of reasons there is too often what might be called stove piping with things operating separately without sufficient co-ordination. As far as this business of stabilising fragile states, which is critical, and during the Portuguese Presidency there was an important initiative taken, how far can we learn lessons both from the ESDP missions and is there something here which ought to be reflected in some way without too many changes, it is already implicit in the Strategy, by some development in the Strategy?

  Dr Solana: We have lessons learned from that not only from our own activity but from the activity of others.

  Q233  Chairman: Of course.

  Dr Solana: We can develop from some of the lessons that can be described or detailed. With the Lisbon Treaty, the co-operation among institutions, it will be much better, or at least the possibility will be much better. For that purpose, for dealing with fragile states, all the elements, development, security elements, economic, trade, et cetera should be put together in packages. The Lisbon Treaty can help a lot to do it properly and in a better co-ordinated way, I have no doubt about that. All of these things are inter-related. The consequence of the Strategy in a way was the Treaty and the implementation of the Treaty would be the next step. I would be optimistic in that direction if everything goes well.

  Q234  Chairman: I am not sure we should start too soon working out how we manage some of these problems if we do not have a Lisbon Treaty. You referred earlier on to the situation in Macedonia and, of course, the fact we have made so much progress in Macedonia is owed to your own personal efforts at an earlier stage. One of the other interesting things there was that we did have double-hatting between the Special Representative and Macedonia.

  Dr Solana: We have two double-hatted EUSRs now.

  Q235  Chairman: Now in Addis as well.

  Dr Solana: It is a fantastic achievement really. We have Macedonia and the African Union incorporated with a lot of difficulties. We have tried very hard to do it in Afghanistan too.

  Q236  Chairman: I have heard.

  Dr Solana: I very much hope that we will be able to do it. That is one step before the implementation of the Treaty, but it goes in that direction, the direction that the Treaty contemplates.

  Q237  Chairman: Even next year, if we were to move in Bosnia-Herzegovina away from—

  Dr Solana: Bosnia will not be difficult.

  Q238  Chairman: There again, the logic is to have a single—

  Dr Solana: The problem with Bosnia now is not because of the countries which are not in the European Union but who would like to maintain a broader international representative. If not, by now we could have appointed somebody from the European Union, double-hatting.

  Q239  Chairman: I hope that we will not have to fall back on these other ways of doing it if the Treaty goes through but, nonetheless, as a Committee some time ago in responding to the document Europe in the World we tried to take up some of these points.

  Dr Solana: It is very good that you keep pressing.

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