Shaping An Effective EU Foreign Policy

von Javier Solana

Bruessels, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 24. January 2005

The EU is not an island, it's a part of a global community. For large parts of the world, the word Europe itself has become associated with a philosophy of humanity, solidarity and integration. Therefore the EU has to play a bigger role to work for the "global common good". (Javier Solana)

Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to speak today to such a prestigious organisation as the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Mr Chairman, as you mentioned in your introduction, the theme of today's speech is Shaping an Effective EU Foreign Policy. This title is deceptively simple: without doubt we need a stronger and more capable Europe: it is the logical answer to the many challenges facing us and it is what many of our citizens are calling for. While we have made significant progress in the last few years – and I want to detail some of that progress in tonight's speech – it is also true that EU foreign policy remains a work in progress.

I am convinced that 2005 will be a crucial year for the political development of the EU, for our ability to speak with one voice, for the improvement of our crisis management capabilities, and most of all for our effectiveness in promoting security and stability in our neighbourhood and beyond. Or, as President Köhler put it to me last week: the EU has a responsibility to work for the "global common good". That is a fitting way of describing the EU's global role and ambition.

The challenge: a new security environment

We are living in a period of momentous change in the international system. Since the end of the Cold War, we have exchanged a world of dangerous certainties - the bipolar order built on a fragile balance of terror - for a world of unpredictable perils. We have moved from a state-based security paradigm to one where, increasingly, non-state actors present the greatest threats to our security and where solutions mostly transcend the power of the state.

The notion of human security - which puts the security of individuals front and centre - is fast gaining ground, and rightly so. The fact that borders are increasingly open, or irrelevant, to vast flows of goods, people and ideas has brought great opportunities, prosperity and freedom to many. But globalisation has equally created a sense of injustice and frustration - and it has increased our dependence and vulnerability on events far afield.

It is of course difficult to chart a stable course in this diffuse and fast-changing environment. To underscore this level of complexity, let me list some of the paradoxes that exist in today's world of globalised insecurity:

Yes, the Cold War bipolar order is gone but at the same time the level of the global violence is growing. Since 1990, around 4 million people have died in conflicts, 90% of them civilians.

Yes, as some point out, Western democracies are a major driving force behind the process of globalisation. But that same globalisation process is reducing their ability to manage security crises. More positively, it is creating opportunities to new powers, such as China and India, to rise to the top table of global politics.

Yes, the two principal totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century are gone but democracy remains fragile or absent in many parts of the world - and cultural and religious radicalisation are on the rise.

Foreign policy is in essence about managing change, about safeguarding our people, about promoting our values and interests. Thus our response to this challenging security environment should not just be active but also flexible and multi-dimensional. While this 'brave new world' is confusing, one thing is certain: Europe can and must play a bigger role. To paraphrase John Donne, the outstanding English poet of the early 17th century: the EU knows it is not an island, we are part of a global community.

Indeed we are a global actor. With 25 member states, with over 450 million inhabitants, a quarter of the world’s GNP, and around 40% of the world merchandise exports; and with the comprehensive array of instruments - economic, legal, diplomatic, military - at our disposal, that claim is not an aspiration but a statement of fact.

The origins and subsequent development of the EU mean that the prospects for shaping an effective foreign policy are both difficult and promising at the same time. Difficult because EU was essentially set up to abolish foreign policy, in the traditional sense, among the participating member-states. But also promising because the EU is an amazing economic and political success story. Through hard work and common institutions we have ended centuries of wars and oppression by transforming the European continent into a zone of unprecedented prosperity, security and freedom.

Sometimes, non-Europeans have a better appreciation of what we have achieved in the last 50 years. Just read Jeremy Rifkin's book The European Dream'. For large parts of the world, the word Europe itself has become associated with a philosophy of humanity, solidarity and integration. This is a great honour and stimulus for us. Europeans can disagree amongst themselves about the precise definitions but, from the outside it looks like a loose 'European model' exists, both as a way of organising our societies and in approaching international affairs.

Others around the world are paying close attention. The African Union, Mercosur, Asean - these are all examples of strengthening regional regimes. They are explicitly taking their inspiration from the EU experience. There can be no simple export of a whatever we think the European model is, but the EU is seen as a source of inspiration. And of course, imitation and adaptation are easier than invention.

The European Security Strategy - one year on.

As you know, in December 2003 EU heads of state and government adopted a European Security Strategy. At the heart of that strategy is the belief that multi-national challenges require multinational responses. This audience needs no reminding that the central elements of the EU philosophy are multilateralism, coherence and partnership.

At the time of the Security Strategy, many people were kind enough to herald this 'mission statement' as a great success for the EU. But what have we done since then in terms of follow up and implementation? How is the ESS guiding our day-to-day action? I don't want to give an exhaustive list of what we have done, but let me highlight some key points.

Let's start with a key threat and an area where we have been particularly active: the proliferation of WMD. A detailed European Strategy against the proliferation of WMD was adopted by the Council also in December 2003. This strategy gives us a fully fledged-roadmap for immediate and future action to tackle the proliferation of WMD. A central feature in the strategy is our belief that weapons-control regimes such as the OPCW, the Bioweapons Convention and the NPT are crucial and that we should support their extension and strengthening. Accordingly, we are giving a lot of support to various verification agencies (IAEA, OPCW) and we have initiated a crucial programme on the physical protection of nuclear sites in Russia.

In the area of non-proliferation, the case of Iran will continue to get a lot of attention. As you know, Iran has committed itself in the Paris agreement of November 2004 to maintain an indefinite suspension of uranium enrichment. This was without doubt a positive step, but now we need to shore up this agreement. In mid-January, the EU resumed its negotiations on a Trade and Co-operation Agreement with Iran. We are ready to deepen our ties with Iran, economically and politically. But full co-operation by Iran with the IAEA and objective guarantees on the civilian nature of Iran's nuclear activities are needed for this co-operation between the EU and Iran to continue.

Terrorism, described in the ESS as a growing strategic threat to the whole of Europe, is another crucial area where we have worked hard to implement our vision. The EU has understood the challenge. We have been busy developing a comprehensive strategy. And almost one year after the atrocious terrorist attacks in Madrid, we can start to list some concrete achievements:

We have stepped up co-operation in fields ranging from intelligence sharing to law enforcement and the control of financial assets so that authorities are better able to find, detain and bring terror suspects to justice. Furthermore, we have the European Arrest Warrant while criminal codes across the 25 Member States are being aligned so that terrorism is prosecuted and punished in the same manner. The appointment of Gijs de Vries as EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator should help to improve co-ordination and visibility of EU actions in this field.

I want to make two more points regarding how we fight terrorism: we need to keep in mind that terrorism does not happen in a political vacuum. There is no cause which justifies terrorist acts, but equally there can be no excuse for ignoring the causes of terrorism. While we need to confront the terrorist threat systematically, we also need to tackle the underlying causes such as political alienation and radicalisation. After all, people are not born as terrorist, they become one. Therefore we should reflect on what factors drives people to commit atrocities and ask whether we can do something about that, or not.

Second, while fully committed to the fight against terrorism, it is equally our duty to protect human rights. This is a very deep European conviction. It is a matter of preserving our basic values. There is absolutely no trade-off between security and human rights protection.

The ESS rightly highlighted regional conflicts as one of the 'old threats' that have not gone away. We all know that frozen conflicts threaten regional stability. They destroy human lives and social and physical infrastructures; they threaten minorities, fundamental freedoms and human rights. And they are often interconnected with the so-called new threats such as terrorism, state failure and WMD proliferation. Sometimes, the most practical way of tackling new threats will be to deal with the older, underlying regional conflict. And that is precisely what we have been doing.

Perhaps the most salient example of this nexus of 'old' and 'new' threats is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Let me say two words about the new political situation. With the democratic elections in Palestine, which gave a strong mandate to President Mahmud Abbas and the arrival of a new Israeli government, we have a great opportunity to revive the long-stalled peace process.

Less than two weeks ago I was in the region, witnessing the elections and discussing the way ahead with all the relevant parties. I am more convinced than ever that we have to move as quickly as possible to a resumption of the political process, leading to the creation of a viable, democratic and sovereign Palestinian state, living in peace with Israel. And we as EU have a responsibility to do all we can use this opening to maximum effect.

Both sides know full well what they have to do to resume the road to peace: the roadmap sets out the respective steps in clear detail. Neither side can expect or demand that the other side moves first: both have to act in parallel. The great risk is that by slowing down the calendar, extremists in both camps will prevail and this window of opportunity, so scarce in the troubled Middle East, will close again.

From theory to practice

Ladies and gentlemen, there was a time when the EU’s foreign policy was criticised for being all talk and no action. And some people still feel today that we put too much emphasis on producing papers or creating structures in Brussels. I disagree because probably the biggest change in the past two years is that the EU is taking on important operational tasks: in the Balkans, the Southern Caucasus, Africa and elsewhere. As the Security Strategy suggested: Europe needs to be more active and capable - and that is exactly what we have become.

Of all the missions that the EU is currently undertaking, operation Althea in Bosnia stands out. EUFOR is a large mission, consisting of about 7,000 Euro soldiers from 22 EU member countries and 11 other non-member states, including Canada, Chile, Turkey and Morocco.

In addition, we are making good progress in an area where our underperformance has traditionally hindered our ability to be as effective as we should be, namely military capabilities. Within the framework of the EU Rapid Reaction Force, the first of the planned 13 battle groups have been created. Last year, we also set up the European Defence Agency while civilian-military cooperation was brought to a new operational level through the creation of a civilian-military cell. And after the tragic events in Asia - which brought a total death toll more than 225,000 including than 9,000 Europeans - it also clear that we need to accelerate our work in the area of disaster relief, civil protection and, where we can add value, civilian crisis management.

Some future challenges

Towards the end, the Security Strategy re-stated an old truth, namely that there are few if any problems we can deal with on our own. We clearly need to pursue our objectives both through multilateral organisations and through partnerships with key actors. Take the UN which is a powerful source and expression of multilateralism. Of course, the UN has its share of shortcomings. But it remains the cornerstone of the international system and the only universal international organisation we have.

The report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change is the most authoritative political and intellectual case for a new consensus on collective security. It has produced a raft of sensible measures to streamline UN procedures and programmes, making them more effective and relevant. No sensible person could argue that a rejuvenation of the UN is not possible or necessary. I want to salute the determination of Kofi Annan to lead this reform process and I am sure that as Europeans we want to give him all the necessary practical support.

When it comes to forging partnerships with key states, no task is more urgent than the need to revive the spirit of the Transatlantic cooperation. We must talk less of inevitable clashes in worldviews and put more emphasis on practical co-operation. We should re-learn the earlier habit of mutual compromise. When President Bush comes to visit the EU next month - the first US President ever to do so - we Europeans have a chance to show that we are ready to engage on wide range of issues and that we can deliver tangible added value. At the same time, we want the US-European relationship to become a more equal partnership in which the EU-US track, alongside NATO and the bilateral relations, is gaining in weight.

Third, we should enhance our economic, political and cultural cooperation with other main partners: with Russia especially – where we n eed predictability and co-operation; while they need respect and sustained economic help – but also with Japan and Canada.

But when we look around who the EU should work with, we should be fully conscious that there are new actors emerging on the global political stage: China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, offering us attractive new opportunities for co-operation. The world is changing rapidly. In less than 40 years, Chinese GDP is set to overtake US GDP; and the collective economic power of the what investment bankers call the "BRICS" - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - will overtake that of the entire G-7.

We should think about what this rise of new centres of power means for global governance. We have a shared view on the need for a balanced international system - in both economic and political terms. And as the National Intelligence Council of the CIA recently concluded: in 2020 globalisation will have a less American 'face'. But this could also herald a new era where future line ups in UN Security Council will not be, mainly, along ideological lines (or as some have misleadingly called it: "the West vs the Rest") but also in interest terms. To manage such new sources of conflict, we will need to strengthen the rules-based system - and give new centres of power a stake in its success, in our mutual self-interest.

Let me conclude by referring to Ukraine, where I was last Friday. The momentous changes that have taken place there recently offer proof that the idea of common European standards and values is not an empty slogan but a reality. The idea that there are key European standards for the running of elections, and the magnetic power of the EU, played a hugely important role in the peaceful and democratic outcome of the crisis. We now have a new political leadership in Ukraine and a great opportunity for a deeper and more intensive EU-Ukraine relationship.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have made good progress in shaping an effective EU foreign policy. But clearly, much more work remains to be done. I know that you at the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung share our ambition for a more active, a more capable and a more united Europe. And I want to thank you for the enormous work that you have been doing in this area.

Thank you very much.

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