Examination of Witnesses (Questions 246-259)|
Mr Robert Cooper and Mr Richard Crowder
30 JUNE 2008
Q246 Chairman: Thank you very much indeed
for coming to see us. You know better than anybody else the subject
of our discussion. As you know, we are doing an inquiry, you have
seen where we have been and who we have been seeing. We have taken
evidence in London from a range of people. We are seeing Mr Murphy
later this week to get a view from the Government. This morning
we met people from elsewhere and then the Commission, and now
with you and the High Representative. You have seen the European
Security Strategy in a whole variety of ways from its inception
right the way through. How far has this sort of document proved
useful in the development of the EU's external actions? Are there
any lessons, as somebody who has seen the thing through the whole
of one cycle, from those who as your neighbour are now involved
in the review of the Strategy and a possible minor redrafting?
Mr Cooper: It had a particular
use at the time that it happened, it had a political use in the
particular situation of the EU in terms of bringing people together
at a moment when they were very divided. Thereafter I was going
to say it has depended partly on how different people have chosen
to use it. For example, I believe in Sweden it was taken as a
starting point, or maybe even the starting point, for their defence
review as an overall picture of the kind of defence forces that
they wanted. It is not enough for that so they must have elaborated
the ideas quite a lot. That is an example I am aware of, but perhaps
there are others as well.
Q247 Lord Anderson of Swansea: To
what extent has work already been done on the redraft? There have
been the various documents published from March onwards. Is there
a preliminary draft available already, or redraft?
Mr Cooper: Richard may know better than
I do. No, I do not think so. I do not know that we are really
thinking in terms of redrafting anyway, it is more likely to be
a document to supplement that.
Q248 Lord Anderson of Swansea: To
supplement, so the original document will stand and there will
be a sort of self-standing update?
Mr Cooper: Yes.
Q249 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Based
Mr Cooper: That is my guess, yes.
Q250 Chairman: There might be some
phrases which could be tweaked, or do you think that it is a sacred
Mr Cooper: Once you start redrafting
a bit of it you end up redrafting the whole thing. My guess is
that there will be a self-standing document which will in a kind
of nuanced direction change one or two parts.
Q251 Lord Anderson of Swansea: What
will be the role of the French Presidency? Presumably they have
their own ideas. The Council will be in the driving seat, but
where will the French Presidency come in in this new stage?
Mr Cooper: It was a French proposal that
this should happen and I am sure they will take a very strong
interest in it. They are in the chair and that gives them not
an enormous power but the possibility of steering things and this
is one of the things they have wanted, so I assume they will make
an important impact on it.
Q252 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Do
you see any major, I will not say confrontations, difficulties
arising from various priorities of the French that will not be
acceptable to others?
Mr Cooper: No.
Q253 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Where
are the major points of confrontation?
Mr Cooper: What I see in this is there
is going to be a kind of tension between those who want to put
everything that you can possibly think of into the document and
those who think it is better that it should remain focused. I
belong to the second category.
Q254 Chairman: Surprise, surprise!
Mr Cooper: I thought that one of the
merits of the original document was that it dealt with areas that
the European Union otherwise does not often deal with, the kind
of hard security. The term "security" is very large
and you can interpret it in many different ways. I think it is
good for the EU to reserve a little bit of time to think about
these rather difficult areas and, therefore, too much dilution
with a whole range of things which the Community deals with in
other ways, trade protection, is
Q255 Lord Anderson of Swansea: In
your judgment, which are likely to be the most thorny issues?
Mr Solana mentioned Russia where he thought there would be substantial
differences arising presumably from the different commercial interests
in gas and so on. What would be your list of areas which would
prove the most difficult in the negotiation?
Mr Cooper: Well, apart from the one I
have mentioned between the maximalists, the Christmas tree supporters,
I am sure Javier is right that anybody who attempts to write down
too much about a strategy to Russia, even if you tried to do that
on a national basis, you would find there would be differences
of views within the different Whitehall departments, some of whom
saw Russia as an important partner and some of whom saw Russia
as a very difficult country. Those differences are magnified when
you have countries with very different experiences in dealing
Q256 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Geography
Mr Cooper: Exactly. For my part, what
I personally hope for this, and in a way it is at an early stage,
is that what happens in the coming semester will do some things
which will make this document into something more like a strategy.
What we have at the moment is a description of what you might
call a conception of security. To make that into a strategy you
would have to say something about how you were going to get there
and there is probably some scope for doing that.
Q257 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Including
Mr Cooper: Initially the term "strategy"
was not in the draft which the High Representative proposed because
we did not think this was a strategy. I do not know how far you
go in the way of timetables, but personally I would be happy if
we finished at the end of the year with a document that involved
some commitments to doing something.
Q258 Lord Hamilton of Epsom: I think
you should be congratulated because there has been unanimity among
all the people who have talked about this, which is becoming quite
numerous, that the existing document is short, concise and totally
comprehensible. There has been slightly less than unanimity on
the fact that if you rewrite it, it will probably become longer
and less comprehensible and if you are not very careful it will
achieve nothing, it will be completely negative by extending it.
Can I tease out with you, if we are going to talk about implementation,
which I think is the main concern as to what has not happened
and perhaps this needs to be written down, do you see this as
an addendum to the Strategy?
Mr Cooper: Yes.
Q259 Lord Hamilton of Epsom: Would
you put capabilities in that?
Mr Cooper: Yes, certainly.