Monday 11 August 2008

The EU's many voices - Kouchner, Stubb, and Bildt

Rarely can we see all three major European regional institutions - the European Union (EU), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Council of Europe (CoE) - united in action.

And although some see the EU move only "at its usual speed", now the not so improbable coincidence* that all presidencies of the European regional institutions are in the hands of European Union countries has lead to a situation where the one voice of the EU is effectively heard out of several mouths.

Bernard Kouchner of France has spoken for the French EU-Council Presidency, Alexander Stubb of Finland has found clear words as the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, and now Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister of Sweden, and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe , has issued a statement that is astonishingly clear in diplomatic terms. All three are present in Georgia and try to mediate for peace - peace not only for Georgia, its breakaway regions, and Russia, but for Europe as a whole.

This is a rather good situation, because, although coming from EU and non-EU organisations, the general position of the European Union is amplified and clearly audible all over the continent, especially in Moscow and Tbilisi.

And this shows that we should not be looking for a European Union that speaks with just one single voice. No, we should be longing for a European Union where many voices speak in the same direction, drowning out the many other regional and global voices that herald their messages of hatred, war, and ignorance of human rights.

A joint statement from an emergency EU Council meeting will maybe be a sign of unity, but it will, as so many times before, just express the lowest common denominator then promoted by just one country - the Presidency - instead of stronger voices echoing from all over the Union.

Maybe, today's situation is much better for the European Union than it will be after a Council meeting...

*27 out 47 countries in the CoE and 27 out of 56 countries in the OSCE are EU countries .


Anonymous said...

you have a point but OSCE and CoU are not EU bodies as you seem to imply in the title.

Julien Frisch said...

No, I do not imply that the OSCE and CoE are EU bodies.

But leaders of EU countries are the heads of the ministerial bodies of CoE and OSCE, and EU voices are therefore amplified all over the continent in this crisis.

Julien Frisch said...

I have tried to make it even clearer by slight changes in the text.

(And just to explain the title: Kouchner, Stubb and Bildt are all members of the EU Council, so even when some of them speak in a different function, they remain parts of an EU institution - and are thus EU voices.)