Автор Valentin Katrandjiev   
Петък, 24 Април 2009 03:00
The European Union stands as an odd formation in the international system. It is neither a super-state nor a classical example of intergovernmental organization. Started as a relatively modest regional organization in the 1950s, the Union has gradually emerged as a highly successful integration community project encompassing 27 European countries so far and unified by common political, economic, cultural and other values. Today, the Union comes as the largest trade bloc, major currency holder, significant development aid provider, crisis manager.
It is obvious that a European Union of 27 countries with a total population of nearly 500 million cannot function effectively upon an institutional framework designed for a Union of 10 or 15 member states. This makes the overall institutional reform an urgent priority.  The optimization of the EU foreign policy system should be viewed in the context of long-awaited institutional reform.  The introduction of united post of the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy and the integrated European External Action Service (EEAS) are considered the key elements of the optimization process. The reform is expected to contribute to consolidation of the EU foreign policy structures and instruments under a single operational make up.  The ultimate goal is to put an end to the duplication of foreign policy competences exercised simultaneously by the foreign policy structures under the European Commission (Commissioner for External Affairs, RELEX, United service for external relations and the EC delegations) and the Council of Ministers (Council Secretariat, High Representative for CFSP and ESDP).    

Both, failed European Constitutional Treaty and the current Lisbon Treaty contain important texts upon which the upgrading of the EU foreign policy system can begin.  However, the lack of clarity of the fate of the Lisbon Treaty has halted the process.
In light of the emergence of new regional geopolitical centers (China, India, Brazil and resurgent Russia) and the hot zones of conflicts in the EU neighborhood, the Union can not allow the luxury of being a weak and divided international actor.  Thus, the reform should also be viewed in the context of the efforts of the member-states and EU institutions to form a new foreign policy identity. The formation of such identity involves achievement of a truly an integrated foreign policy and the EU evolution into a coherent geopolitical actor.  The weakness of the EU is evident in the lack of foreign policy recent consensus over Iraq war, Kosovo and South Ossetia conflicts, and the common approach to tackling the current unprecedented global economic crisis.     

The EEAS will encompass eurocrarts from EU bodies and foreign services officers seconded from the foreign ministries of the member-countries. The details over the organisation and functioning of EEAS will be subject of consultations between the national ministries of foreign affairs and EU institutions. In this respect it is relevant to consider several important points related to EEAS:

  • The EEAS will be efficient only if it has clearly defined place and responsibilities within the entire foreign policy system. The service should occupy the central place in this system. It also has to have an autonomous budgeting. The question over what type of service must be there – lighting body or are a well structured diplomatic institution remains open. The four major stakeholders – member states, the Commission, the Council and the Parliament - would influence the shape of future service;
  • Foreign policy-shaping is concentrated in a single body, and not spread over several institutions. In this way, the EU  should overcome the friction resulting from separate EU centres of policy-making – the rotating presidency of an individual member-country, the High Representative for CFSP, and the president of the EU and lastly the European Parliament;
  • The EEAS is to be institutionally accountable to the Council of Ministers for General Affairs and External Relations and the European Commission under the double hatted model. The model provides advantages for consolidation of EU diplomatic capabilities. Occasional clashes are possible due to overlapping responsibilities. This could for instance take place for instance if the future high representative for external affairs, who as a vice-president of the Commission, decides to seize some of the sectoral competencies of the commissioners for trade and development, considering them areas of the foreign policy;
  • There is lack of clarity over the role of some 125 EC delegations to third countries. The idea to provide them with a status “EU embassies” meets the resistance of some member countries. One thing looks certain, the EU delegations will be an important component of the new diplomatic service and will retain representational and operational competences; 
  • The reformed foreign policy system would narrow the gap between the national diplomacies and the European diplomacy, but would not merge them. The Lisbon Treaty purposely replaces the phrase “foreign minister” from the Constitutional Treaty, with “high representative” to emphasise that the new diplomatic service does not claim to seize the prerogatives  of the national diplomatic systems; 
  • The EEAS would open opportunities for teamwork between professional diplomats and EU experts. It will help nurture new generation of diplomatic cadres with better knowledge and understanding of the European reality and distinctiveness. The Service could help shape a new European diplomatic vision and culture, and help EU diplomats advance in their professional career; 
  • The future EU diplomatic service will be more intergovernmental than supranational body. The member states will determine that by decisive participation of their seconded diplomats in the service;  
  • The last but not the least is the dilemma over possible overlapping roles of future EU foreign policy chief and the EU President. Institutional frictions are inevitable if their functions in foreign policy system are not visibly demarcated.