Tuesday 10 February 2009

Finnish Foreign Minister Stubb: EU foreign policy co-ordination inefficient

In a blog post titled "Ten Theses on Europe", the Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb discusses the future role of the European Union and its relevance for Finnish foreign policy.

The whole text is not very revolutionary, but I would like to point to one paragraph:
3. A common policy and funding require joint preparation. To me, the External Relations Council of the European Union bears too much resemblance to international conferences where participating states complain about their own worries. We need a much more uniform and effective preparatory machinery that brings more specifically selected and better thought-out proposals to the negotiations. The quarrelsome and dispersed actors of Brussels must be forced, once and for all, to work in better cooperation. The EU foreign ministers should be able to concentrate on major policy lines rather than tinkering with minute details.
This paragraph highlights something that I have experienced myself in one of my previous employments: EU foreign policy co-ordination is not always oriented towards the common good, it is too much focused on little details, on individual countries' "mental state", and not designed to foster positive co-operation but rather inter-country bargaining. This is not only the case on the level of foreign minister represented, but apparently also on the levels below.

However, if a foreign minister (who is working for a country that has presided the EU Council only 2 1/2 years ago) is complaining about the work of the foreign relations Council, this seems to be a quite strong signal to me that the practical organisation of EU foreign policy co-ordination needs reform, not necessarily through a Treaty reform but maybe just by a change in procedures and, what could be even more important, by a change in spirit.

I am very glad that Alexander Stubb is raising this issue, and I hope it is heard among his colleagues and those working in the Council on the side of the member states and also on the side of the Council secretariat.


antyx said...

Hear hear. Would be interested to hear how mr. Stubb proposes to achieve this, but an unassailably noble and necessary goal.

citizen of Europe said...

Considering that the United States of America proclaimed their independence on Great Britain in 1776 and already 1787 they adopted a constitution which transfered foreign policy fully to common federal state while the greatest concern of present European states is how to remain independent states and at once how to coordinate effectively their common foreign policy, I must think Europe is at least 200 years late after the USA. A child has overtaken its parents and the parents seem to have no more energy to change themselves.