Stanley's blog

It looks at last that the Lisbon Treaty will come into force – even as hoped for – on 1 January 2010. Discussion so far has been mainly on whether Tony Blair should be given the first post, and to a lesser extent on what should be the determining criteria. It seems clear that Blair will not be appointed, when the European Council meets again in mid-November.

There is an assumption by many that the Presidential post is the more important of the two. But this is not borne out by a reading of the text. The President of the European Council chairs it and drives forward its work, ensures its preparation and continuity, endeavours to facilitate cohesion and consensus, and presents a report to Parliament after each meeting.

These duties describe a chairperson with an essentially internal job. However, the President also ensures the external representation of the Union on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy, without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. This is hardly consistent with the previous list of duties and invites an overlapping of functions with the High Representative.

The High Representative conducts the Union’s common foreign and security policy and common security and defence policy, ensures the consistency of the Union’s external action, presides over the Foreign Affairs Council, is Vice-President of the Commission, takes part in the work of the European Council, may submit with the Commission joint proposals to the Council, can propose creating start-up funds for military or civilian crisis management missions, and ensures co-ordination of crisis management missions using EU and national resources. He may request a special meeting of the European Council.

The High Representative represents the Union in matters relating to the common foreign and security policy. He conducts political dialogue with third parties on the Union’s behalf and expresses the Union’s position in international organizations and at international conferences.

The High Representative is to be assisted in the execution of his/her duties by a European External Action Service (EEAS), made up of officials from the Commission and the Council and staff seconded from the national diplomatic services of the Member States. The Commission’s 135 delegations around the world are to be transformed into EU delegations representing all EU institutions.

The relevant Treaty provisions are set out below.

Because of the limited description of the European President’s duties, and the apparent conflict in external roles with that of the High Representative and lack of clarity as to their relationship, the first two incumbents will very much shape the picture for the future.

This adds to the importance of the first two appointees. The focus so far has been, in my view, wrongly on the President. A consensus seems to be emerging that the High Representative, but not the President, should come from a big Member State. One of them must be a Socialist.

I remain of the opinion that Chris Patten would be the best choice as High Representative and therefore Tarja Halonen, the current President of Finland, as President of the European Council.

However, David Miliband would be a welcome choice, which means that there would be several possible candidates for the Presidency: hopefully a Euopean integrationist will be chosen, and not an intergovernmentalist.

Lisbon Treaty provisions

President: articles 5 & 6 of consolidated text

“5. The European Council shall elect its President, by a qualified majority, for a term of two and a half years, renewable once…

6. The President of the European Council:

(a) shall chair it and drive forward its work;

(b) shall ensure the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council in cooperation with the President of the Commission, and on the basis of the work of the General Affairs Council;

(c) shall endeavour to facilitate cohesion and consensus within the European Council;

(d) shall present a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the European Council.

The President of the European Council shall, at his level and in that capacity, ensure the external representation of the Union on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy, without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.(emphasis added) The President of the European Council shall not hold a national office.”

Foreign Policy Chief: article 18 of consolidated text

“1. The European Council, acting by a qualified majority, with the agreement of the President of the Commission, shall appoint the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy…

2. The High Representative shall conduct the Union’s common foreign and security policy. He shall contribute by his proposals to the development of that policy, which he shall carry out as mandated by the Council. The same shall apply to the common security and defence policy.

3. The High Representative shall preside over the Foreign Affairs Council.

4. The High Representative shall be one of the Vice-Presidents of the Commission. He shall ensure the consistency of the Union’s external action. He shall be responsible within the Commission for responsibilities incumbent on it in external relations and for coordinating other aspects of the Union’s external action. In exercising these responsibilities within the Commission, and only for these responsibilities, the High Representative shall be bound by Commission procedures to the extent that this is consistent with paragraphs 2 and 3.

Other relevant provisions include:

Article 15.2:

The European Council shall consist of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, together with its President and the President of the Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall take part in its work. (emphasis added)

Article 21.3:

The Union shall ensure consistency between the different areas of its external action and between these and its other policies. The Council and the Commission, assisted by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, shall ensure that consistency and shall cooperate to that effect.

Article 22.2:

“ The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, for the area of common foreign and security policy, and the Commission, for other areas of external action, may submit joint proposals to the Council.”

Article 24.1:

“…The common foreign and security policy shall be put into effect by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and by Member States, in accordance with the Treaties….”

Article 24:3:

“…The Member States shall work together to enhance and develop their mutual political solidarity. They shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations. The Council and the High Representative shall ensure compliance with these principles.”

Article 26:

“2. The Council shall frame the common foreign and security policy and take the decisions necessary for defining and implementing it on the basis of the general guidelines and strategic lines defined by the European Council.
The Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall ensure the unity, consistency and effectiveness of action by the Union.
3. The common foreign and security policy shall be put into effect by the High Representative and by the Member States, using national and Union resources.”

Article 27:

“1. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who shall chair the Foreign Affairs Council, shall contribute through his proposals towards the preparation of the common foreign and security policy and shall ensure implementation of the decisions adopted by the European Council and the Council.
2. The High Representative shall represent the Union for matters relating to the common foreign and security policy. He shall conduct political dialogue with third parties on the Union’s behalf and shall express the Union’s position in international organisations and at international conferences.

3. In fulfilling his mandate, the High Representative shall be assisted by a European External Action Service. This service shall work in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States and shall comprise officials from relevant departments of the General Secretariat of the Council and of the Commission as well as staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States. The organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service shall be established by a decision of the Council. The Council shall act on a proposal from the High Representative after consulting the European Parliament and after obtaining the consent of the Commission.”

Article 30:

“1. Any Member State, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, or the High Representative with the Commission’s support, may refer any question relating to the common foreign and security policy to the Council and may submit to it initiatives or proposals as appropriate.
2. In cases requiring a rapid decision, the High Representative, of his own motion, or at the request of a Member State, shall convene an extraordinary Council meeting within 48 hours or, in an emergency, within a shorter period.”

Article 31.2

“By derogation from the provisions of paragraph 1, the Council shall act by qualified majority:
when adopting a decision defining a Union action or position on the basis of a decision of the European Council relating to the Union’s strategic interests and objectives, as referred to in Article 22(1),
when adopting a decision defining a Union action or position, on a proposal which the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has presented following a specific request.”

Article 32:

“…When the European Council or the Council has defined a common approach of the Union within the meaning of the first paragraph, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Member States shall coordinate their activities within the Council…”

Article 33:

“The Council may, on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, appoint a special representative with a mandate in relation to particular policy issues. The special representative shall carry out his mandate under the authority of the High Representative.”

Article 34

“1. Member States shall coordinate their action in international organisations and at international conferences. They shall uphold the Union’s positions in such forums. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall organise this coordination.
In international organisations and at international conferences where not all the Member States participate, those which do take part shall uphold the Union’s positions.
2. In accordance with Article 24(3), Member States represented in international organisations or international conferences where not all the Member States participate shall keep the other Member States and the High Representative informed of any matter of common interest.
Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council will concert and keep the other Member States and the High Representative fully informed. Member States which are members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.
When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the High Representative be invited to present the Union’s position.”

Article 36

“The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall regularly consult the European Parliament on the main aspects and the basic choices of the common foreign and security policy and the common security and defence policy and inform it of how those policies evolve. He shall ensure that the views of the European Parliament are duly taken into consideration. Special representatives may be involved in briefing the European Parliament.
The European Parliament may ask questions of the Council or make recommendations to it and to the High Representative. Twice a year it shall hold a debate on progress in implementing the common foreign and security policy, including the common security and defence policy.”

Article 38

“Without prejudice to Article 240 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a Political and Security Committee shall monitor the international situation in the areas covered by the common foreign and security policy and contribute to the definition of policies by delivering opinions to the Council at the request of the Council or of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy or on its own initiative. It shall also monitor the implementation of agreed policies, without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative.
Within the scope of this Chapter, the Political and Security Committee shall exercise, under the responsibility of the Council and of the High Representative, the political control and strategic direction of the crisis management operations referred to in Article 43.
The Council may authorise the Committee, for the purpose and for the duration of a crisis management operation, as determined by the Council, to take the relevant decisions concerning the political control and strategic direction of the operation.”

Article 41:

“The Council shall adopt by a qualified majority, on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, decisions establishing:
(a) the procedures for setting up and financing the start-up fund, in particular the amounts allocated to the fund;
(b) the procedures for administering the start-up fund;
(c) the financial control procedures.
When the task planned in accordance with Article 42(1) and Article 43 cannot be charged to the Union budget, the Council shall authorise the High Representative to use the fund. The High Representative shall report to the Council on the implementation of this remit.”

Within the scope of this Chapter, the Political and Security Committee shall exercise, under the responsibility of the Council and of the High Representative, the political control and strategic direction of the crisis management operations referred to in Article 43.
The Council may authorise the Committee, for the purpose and for the duration of a crisis management operation, as determined by the Council, to take the relevant decisions concerning the political control and strategic direction of the operation.

Article 42.4

“Decisions relating to the common security and defence policy, including those initiating a mission as referred to in this Article, shall be adopted by the Council acting unanimously on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy or an initiative from a Member State. The High Representative may propose the use of both national resources and Union instruments, together with the Commission where appropriate.”

Article 43.2:

“The Council shall adopt decisions relating to the tasks referred to in paragraph 1, defining their objectives and scope and the general conditions for their implementation. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, acting under the authority of the Council and in close and constant contact with the Political and Security Committee, shall ensure coordination of the civilian and military aspects of such tasks.”

Article 44.1

“Within the framework of the decisions adopted in accordance with Article 43, the Council may entrust the implementation of a task to a group of Member States which are willing and have the necessary capability for such a task. Those Member States, in association with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, shall agree among themselves on the management of the task.”

Article 46:

“1. Those Member States which wish to participate in the permanent structured cooperation referred to in Article 42(6), which fulfil the criteria and have made the commitments on military capabilities set out in the Protocol on permanent structured cooperation, shall notify their intention to the Council and to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs 2. Within three months following the notification referred to in paragraph 1 the Council shall adopt a decision establishing permanent structured cooperation and determining the list of participating Member States. The Council shall act by a qualified majority after consulting the High Representative.
3. Any Member State which, at a later stage, wishes to participate in the permanent structured cooperation shall notify its intention to the Council and to the High Representative.
The Council shall adopt a decision confirming the participation of the Member State concerned which fulfils the criteria and makes the commitments referred to in Articles 1 and 2 of the Protocol on permanent structured cooperation. The Council shall act by a qualified majority after consulting the High Representative. Only members of the Council representing the participating Member States shall take part in the vote.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.”

Author :
Print

Comments

  1. The leaders of the third countries invited to receive one of the now rather long list of EU “presidents” will not have read the treaties. They may well be told that the “President of Europe” is on the phone, whether the holder of the office can stop the traffic or not. Unfortunately, unless he has cleared his lines with the HOSG, he will have nothing to convey.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

  2. Hi,

    Can you comment a bit on this Article 31.2. It seems like that introduces a qualified majority option. Or am I reading it wrong?

    Ari

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

Comments are closed.