Europe in the world: Towards a more effective EU foreign and security strategy Contents

Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations

Strategy making in the European Union

Drafting a new strategy

1.The consultation phase of the new strategy has been open and transparent, with a high degree of participation by academics and think-tanks. (Paragraph 15)

2.Once the new strategy has been agreed at the European Council, the High Representative and the EEAS should reach out to the European Parliament and national parliaments to ensure they are informed and engaged. European legislatures could play an important role in reviewing the new strategy and ensuring coherence across EU external policy. (Paragraph 16)

3.It is regrettable that the review of the ENP was out of step with the strategic review process. In her dual role as Vice-President of the Commission, the High Representative should ensure that a foreign and security policy strategy acts as a political framework to guide the policy and implementation of the ENP. (Paragraph 17)

What type of strategy?

4.A new EU foreign and security strategy should introduce the overall strategic rationale for EU and Member State action. It should help the EU prioritise, and not seek to offer prescriptive policy suggestions on every issue. The goal should be to guide policy-makers to make better decisions on specific issues. (Paragraph 24)

5.The strategy must also take a comprehensive view of EU foreign policy instruments, in particular of how the resources and instruments of the Commission can support the foreign policy objectives of the Union. Military capabilities should not be ignored. We hope that the strategic review will also stimulate a discussion on how the EU and NATO can work together more effectively. (Paragraph 25)

6.We recognise that Member States will continue to undertake their own sovereign foreign policies, but where appropriate they should use the new strategy as a framework to influence their policies. (Paragraph 26)

7.We hope that the current level of engagement of Member States with this review means that national and EU foreign policy priorities should align more closely. (Paragraph 27)

8.We suggest that a review should be undertaken every five years, in line with the term of the High Representative, in order to keep the strategy current and relevant to fluctuations in the EU’s strategic environment. (Paragraph 28)

9.Clear goals and a more focused framework for action should build a more resilient EU. However, we acknowledge that crises intrude, events happen and plans fail. Member States will continue to face unexpected events, and their actions will have unpredictable consequences. The Union will not be able to predict the future, but the strategy should enable it to be flexible, agile and adaptable. (Paragraph 29)

A focus on the neighbourhood

10.The strategy is an opportunity to reflect on the EU’s international role and set its level of ambition. The Union has global interests and, therefore, a global foreign policy, but a realistic assessment must recognise that the Union is not a global security provider. A new strategy should draw that distinction. (Paragraph 37)

11.The current security imperative is the pursuit of stability, security and prosperity in the wider neighbourhood. We recommend that a new strategy—formulating the objectives for the Union in the medium-term—should focus on the neighbourhood. (Paragraph 38)

12.A foreign and security policy in the wider neighbourhood must be supported by clear political will and exercise of action by Member States. Moreover, the execution of policy will require significant resources and more command power, including the civilian and military tools of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). (Paragraph 39)

External and internal context

External security context

13.The strategic review must recognise that the external security context surrounding the Union has deteriorated significantly. The US has long urged Europe to take more responsibility for its own security. The US has now become more open to the EU as a security actor distinct from NATO. (Paragraph 58)

14.Migrant and refugee inflows are likely to remain a long-term challenge for the Union. So far, Member States have not agreed a collective response to this issue at the EU level. The fractious and polarised debates have battered the reputation of the EU and resulted in a muted response to a pressing security and humanitarian crisis. These internal divisions are likely to undermine Member States’ ability to achieve unity on foreign policy issues. (Paragraph 59)

Internal context: economic weakness and internal tensions

15.The EU’s foreign policy has been built on its economic strength. The Union’s credibility and capacity as a foreign policy actor have been weakened and tarnished by the Eurozone crisis, persistent low levels of economic growth and the internal tensions of the European project. This will be an ongoing constraint on the EU as a foreign policy actor. (Paragraph 68)

Primacy of Member States

16.The starting point for a new strategy must be to recognise the ultimate authority that Member States retain over EU foreign and security policy, and to acknowledge their priorities. (Paragraph 73)

17.Member States have not always formulated the necessary collective positions on key foreign policy dossiers, provided the necessary strategic direction or awarded the requisite resources to the EU. (Paragraph 74)

18.The strategy should provide the overarching framework for where Member States could act more collectively at the EU level, and where the EU could support closer alignment between the foreign policies of Member States. (Paragraph 75)

19.Member States and the High Representative must not allow the current crises and internal fissures to dilute the strategic review into a ritual exercise. Our impression is that the necessary rigour and political will are not yet in evidence, either at the Member State or at the EU level. (Paragraph 76)

The ‘herbivorous’ power: political reluctance and reduced capability

20.In the new geopolitical context, reduced military capacity and the unwillingness of Member States to underpin foreign policy with the legitimate use of force undermine the Union as a foreign policy actor. This climate hollows out both the collective military capacity of the EU and that of Member States, endangering the security of EU citizens. (Paragraph 84)

The United Kingdom

21.The UK is an important player in international affairs, and the EU has the potential to enhance UK influence. A UK exit would significantly limit the UK’s international reach, not least by removing the UK’s influence over, and access to, the Commission’s instruments of foreign policy. It would also diminish the foreign policy of the EU. (Paragraph 101)

The foreign and security policy objectives of the Union

Case study: EU policy on Turkey—strategic disarray

22.The EU’s adoption of the EU-Turkey Action Plan, in response to the refugee and Syria crises, fails to disguise the lack of consensus among Member States on their objectives and tactics on Turkey. (Paragraph 117)

23.Member States have long been divided in their vision for Turkey, have not articulated the end goal of the EU-Turkey relationship, and have not assessed the threats inherent in their current policy. The EU has not demonstrated a credible commitment to Turkey’s accession, nor has it defined an alternative relationship. (Paragraph 118)

24.We consider that the EU should revisit the whole EU-Turkey relationship, on the basis of first principles. This should be a priority for the new strategy on foreign and security policy. (Paragraph 119)

25.We urge the UK, as a supporter of Turkish accession to the EU, to initiate a review process at the EU level—perhaps led by the High Representative—with a view to reinvigorating relations with Turkey and setting the partnership on a more strategic footing. (Paragraph 120)

The balance between a transformational or transactional foreign policy

26.We recognise that there is no easy and entirely happy balance to be struck in promoting values in foreign policy. Even well-meaning intentions and actions can have adverse consequences. Moreover, in order to defend its interests, the EU will have to continue to engage with the political structures that are in place. (Paragraph 136)

27.A more pragmatic approach could focus on supporting good governance in the political, economic and judicial sectors in the wider neighbourhood. This would go some way to marry the EU’s strategic interests with a reform agenda that benefits the citizens of those countries. (Paragraph 137)

28.The values of the Union are also an important dimension of the Union’s power to persuade and dissuade, and of its authority as a trusted and reliable international actor. We recognise that some decisions are a function of strategic necessity, and that the promotion of values outside the EU is likely to be selective, but as far as possible the Union, in particular Member States, should seek to exemplify its values. (Paragraph 138)

EU policy on Russia: in need of a strategy

29.The West’s relations with Russia are currently led by the US, but the EU must be more engaged. The High Representative should devote particular attention to the issue of EU policy on Russia in the new strategy. (Paragraph 150)

30.The EU and Member States should pursue a dual-track policy to Russia. Sanctions must be embedded into an overall strategic approach. In the short-term, the EU and Member States must be coherent and credible in their response to Russian breaches of international law, and reflect on what sanctions are achieving. The Union must also be open to co-operation and dialogue with Russia on areas of shared interest, for example, Russian influence on the Syrian regime and broader Middle East issues. (Paragraph 151)

31.Member States must endeavour to put forward a positive agenda with Russia where it is possible to do so. A renewed discussion on European security, in the format of the Helsinki Accords could be a useful starting point. (Paragraph 152)

32.On the other hand, should Russian actions or the action of Member States, whether that is by inertia or active decision, lead towards confrontation, then the Union must also be prepared for that scenario. (Paragraph 153)

33.EU and NATO deterrence in the Baltic States and the Black Sea should be strengthened. Credibility is central to deterrence: Member States must be willing, and convincing in their willingness, to act in defence of the Union. While it is likely that sanctions have deterred Russian action beyond Ukraine, it is not clear that Russian military action in the Baltic states would be met with a forceful response by European states. (Paragraph 154)

Eastern neighbourhood: clarify the policy on enlargement

34.The prospect of EU membership for the countries of the Eastern Partnership is ambiguous. Enlargement cannot be an effective tool if the final objective is not clarified. (Paragraph 161)

35.EU policy towards the Eastern Partnership countries is couched in vague and diplomatic terms. In the absence of a viable and realistic timetable for these countries to accede to the Union, Member States should define their interests and objectives in the region and communicate these clearly to partner countries. (Paragraph 162)

Southern neighbourhood: the golden thread of good governance

36.The key external security risk in the southern neighbourhood is the existence of fragile states, leading to challenges such as terrorism and refugee flows. This must be addressed as a priority in the new strategy. (Paragraph 167)

37.The EU needs to move away from trying to fix as many problems as it can in as many countries as it can, and instead determine which risks are vital security threats, and where the EU can make a meaningful difference. (Paragraph 168)

38.The agenda in the southern neighbourhood should focus on the ‘golden thread’ of economic reform and good governance in the political, judicial and security sectors, which could contribute to the stability of the region. (Paragraph 169)

The ways and means of a strategy

Flexible, decisive and timely action: ad hoc groups of Member States

39.Ad hoc groups are the most useful available format for rapid, decisive and ambitious action by Member States, which can then become the wider EU position. We recommend that, in order to gain the widest possible support among Member States, ad hoc groups should include the High Representative. (Paragraph 188)

40.The new strategy should explore how the instruments of the EU—the Commission and EEAS—can be mobilised to support such groups, for instance by supplying them with the logistical support that is required for these groups to function. (Paragraph 189)

Case study: Syria—an ad hoc group?

41.The EU’s limited role in the Vienna political process is a function of the divisions between Member States and of the fact that the EU is not a security provider in the region. (Paragraph 193)

42.The EU has a direct interest in the resolution of the conflict in Syria, not least because of the flow of refugees from Syria to the EU. Member States must seek to define a coherent position internally, and seek a more central role. The EU will be essential in order to deliver a credible sanctions package, should that prove necessary, and could offer important international support to a political solution. (Paragraph 194)

43.There is also a potential role for EU on the ‘day after’, which must be grasped. Member States should mandate the High Representative and the EEAS to explore measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, manage regional and local ceasefires, strengthen local authorities and establish forums for dialogue. The aftermath of the war will be a critical time for Syria, and the EU has the tools to play an important and constructive role. (Paragraph 195)

Improved decision-making: recalibration of the EU institutions

44.Unanimity among Member States is often too high a bar for EU foreign and security policy: it acts as a strait jacket on the ambition and agility of EU foreign policy. The provisions of the TEU offer Member States opportunities to act within the EU but without consensus. Member States should take advantage of these opportunities. (Paragraph 201)

45.We recommend that the foreign and security policy should give high-level political guidance on when these more flexible mechanisms might be used, and—in order to reassure Member States—when they would not be acceptable. (Paragraph 202)

Co-ordinating the Commission instruments: the role of the European External Action Service

46.European Commission instruments need to be co-ordinated and aligned with the priorities of Member States—the means better aligned with the objectives. The EEAS has a critical role to play here. (Paragraph 211)

47.The EEAS should not be constrained by rigid working practices. The High Representative, in her dual role, should streamline and simplify its working practices to allow briefings to be produced in in a timely manner. (Paragraph 212)

Using the Commission instruments strategically

48.Commission instruments have been used in too diluted and disparate a manner. The Commission must do less, and do it better. Member States must provide the necessary guidance. (Paragraph 224)

49.Commission instruments have a potentially valuable role to play in securing the conditions that underpin the long-term security, prosperity and stability of the Union and third countries. However, at the moment, Commission instruments are too isolated from the EU’s foreign and security policy objectives. (Paragraph 225)

50.We recommend that the new strategy should review how Commission instruments can more effectively support the foreign and security policy objectives of the Union. Trade agreements and technical agreements should be pursued when it is clear that they will deliver leverage in third countries and promote security, stability and prosperity in both the partner country and the EU. (Paragraph 226)

51.Steps should be taken to align the priorities and strengths of Member States and the Commission. The strategic review should consider how Member States and the Commission can work together more coherently both at the level of programming and implementation on the ground. (Paragraph 227)

52.Commission instruments should only be used in countries where there is local support and political acceptance for the EU’s approach. Tunisia meets these criteria. Libya, under a new Government of National Accord, may also do so. (Paragraph 228)

Case study: Tunisia and Libya—security sector reform

53.The EU can play a valuable role in security sector reform, but actions to support a country’s security capabilities must be undertaken with care. There is a risk of militarising security and reinforcing authoritarian power structures. The role and capability of the Commission to support security sector reform should be bolstered. (Paragraph 234)

54.The danger is that Member States neglect countries where they can make a long-term impact, focusing instead on solving short-term crises, to the detriment of strategic planning. We are concerned that this could be the case for Tunisia and Libya. (Paragraph 235)

EU-NATO co-operation

55. A key challenge in building better EU-NATO co-operation is the fundamental nature of the two organisations: NATO is a military alliance, with defence as its core business, which for the EU is a peripheral activity. This leads to a fundamental difference in culture and attitude between the two institutions. While steps such as joint programming and institutional and operational reform are useful, what is required is a change in the political and strategic culture of the organisations. (Paragraph 242)

56.Such a cultural transformation and reorientation is enormously difficult to effect. Mechanisms such as joint scenario planning and shared exercises could help foster a closer cultural convergence and more formal and regular meetings of defence ministers would also be useful. Without such a convergence, the EU’s ability to exercise hard power will remain inchoate. (Paragraph 243)

The Common Security and Defence Policy

57.The CSDP adds value to the efforts of Member States and complements the role played by Member States on an independent basis or within NATO. (Paragraph 248)

58.The CSDP should be directed towards managing crises in the wider neighbourhood: the capacity to restore security, support our regional partners and secure the EU border is a clear priority. (Paragraph 249)

59.The new strategy—in its reflection on EU capabilities—should review the CSDP as a tool of crisis management in the wider neighbourhood. We urge the High Representative to initiate a debate on the overall purpose of the CSDP as a tool of crisis management, the balance of capabilities and resources required, the necessary institutional resources within the EEAS and Commission, and the cost implications. (Paragraph 250)

Analytical and assessment capabilities

60.Strong analytical capabilities at the EU and Member State level are essential for policy planning and the effective and robust defence of the EU’s interests in foreign and security policy. (Paragraph 261)

61.We recognise that the intelligence and political analysis provided by individual Member States to the EU can be quite bland. Nevertheless, the new strategy should seek to strengthen the assessment and policy planning capabilities of the EEAS. (Paragraph 262)

62.The discipline of compiling a common strategic assessment at the EU level would offer significant benefits to Member States in terms of strategic thinking and forward planning. (Paragraph 263)

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