EUROPE IN THE WORLD

Despite some tentative steps taken towards creating a common foreign and security policy and of increasing diplomatic concertation through the European External Action Service (EEAS), the external action of the Union still lacks initiative, cohesion and punch. Despite being able to do so in theory, the Council has never resorted in practice to the use of QMV in this field [101].  The Commission does not make proposals in foreign policy. The enhanced cooperation provisions which allow the emergence of smaller groups of states to act on behalf of the Union in foreign affairs have not been deployed [102].

A greater commitment on behalf of the member states to use the Union as their principal instrument of foreign policy will lead to more effective common foreign policy. The High Representative/Vice-President, who chairs the Council of foreign ministers and runs the EEAS, should use her powers to take policy initiatives and to insist on the coordination of the external relations of the Union under the overall strategic guidance of the European Council. The High Rep should be re-named Foreign Minister of the Union, and accorded a political deputy who should chair the Political and Security Committee [103].  The member states should back the Foreign Minister more convincingly when she speaks on behalf of the Union as a whole in international fora [104].  EU members of the UN Security Council should speak and act collectively. 

As we have already noted, coherence in respect of the rule of law requires lifting the constraints on the Court of Justice from exercising jurisdiction in CFSP [105].

The EU has an unrivalled capacity in world affairs to wield its soft power to good effect. Acting together, it can exploit its combined international experience, wide range of instruments and considerable resources to expand its role in civilian conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict stabilisation. Building on the existing European Medical Corps and European Voluntary Service, the Commission should be made fully responsible for running a civilian corps to engage in civil protection, rescue and aid in international manmade or natural disasters.

As far as the Union’s external economic relations are concerned, certain adjustments are needed to ensure systematic equivalence between the rules for the adoption of international agreements and those applicable for its internal rules. In other words, where the ordinary legislative procedure is the norm for domestic legislation, QMV must also apply to the closure of the EU’s international agreements. And in an adjustment to those rules, the insistence on unanimity for decisions, both domestic and international, involving the commercial aspects of intellectual property and foreign direct investment should be dropped in favour of QMV [106].

In conformity with the shift of executive authority, restrictive measures taken against third countries, persons or corporate and non-state entities should be taken in the first instance by the Commission, though subject to call-back by either the Council or Parliament [107].

The shift in the inter-institutional balance of power needs to be fully reflected in the procedures for the conduct of the Union’s international agreements. The relevant clause, Article 218 TFEU, needs to be codified to reflect the larger role that the European Parliament has already won for itself in practice. Specifically, Parliament and Council should decide jointly, on a proposal of the Commission, to open the negotiation of an international treaty, and to establish and amend the negotiation mandate [108].  The Commission must be designated formally to be the Union’s negotiator [109].  Parliament must always be involved in the decision to conclude any agreement, including in the field of foreign and security policy [110].  The Commission should be authorised to adopt a decision to suspend the application of an agreement [111].  

Comparable adjustments should be made to the position of the Commission with respect to the exchange rate policy of the euro [112].  The Commission should also be put into the driving seat in the operation of the solidarity clause, subject to a normal regulation decided by co-decision [113].  

[101] Article 31(2) TEU.
[102] Article 329(2) TFEU.
[103] Article 27 TEU. 
[104] Article 34 TEU. 
[105] See page 12. 
[106] Article 207(4) TFEU. 
[107] Article 215 TFEU. 
[108] Article 218(2) TFEU. Article 218(10) could then be suppressed. 
[109] Article 218(3) TFEU.
[110] Article 218(5-6) TFEU.
[111] Article 218(9) TFEU. 
[112] Article 219 TFEU. 
[113] Article 222 TFEU.

 

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