Examination of Witnesses(Questions 100-117)|
THURSDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2003
Baroness Park of Monmouth
100. But in that case how does that square with
Article 10.4: "The Union shall have competence to define
and implement a common foreign and security policy, including
the progressive framing of a common defence policy". Are
we going to challenge that statement?
(Sir Stephen Wall) Article 10(4) of the draft constitution?
That is exactly one of the points to which we are suggesting amendments
because in the context in which this language appears, it does
give the impression that there is a policy of the Union which
springs almost unbidden from within the constitution to which
the Member States have a duty of co-operation. What we are trying
to get back to is what seems to us to be fundamental, which is
it is for the Member States to decide what the policy is and once
they have agreed the policy loyally to carry it out. They do not
loyally carry out something that they have not agreed.
101. But there is also progressive creep in
the framing of a common defence policy.
(Sir Stephen Wall) That particular language is consistent
with the language of the existing treaties. In terms of what we
want, we have to go back to the existing treaties and the way
that is constrained which is not only in terms of the unanimity
rule but also in terms of the very clear statement of certain
Member States, and that has to be read absolutely in accordance
with our obligations in NATO. That is absolutely vital for us,
which is one reason why we have, frankly, held up any operations
under ESDP until the Berlin Plus arrangements are formally agreed.
That is absolutely critical for us.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: That is very reassuring.
102. Sir Stephen, I understand what you are
trying to do and I do not disagree with it, but is this not going
to make the document impossible as a constitution to try and write
into each paragraph a standing order that applies to each policy?
Surely these are to go in the other part of the document?
(Sir Stephen Wall) I am not suggesting that every
single bit of what is in the existing Treaty has to go in Part
I as opposed to Part II. What I do think has to be in Part I is
the basis on which the Union's policy is constructed. There has
to be a very clear political statement, which is also a legally
watertight statement of the kind I described, so that nobody has
any doubt about whence the powers of the Union come.
103. This is probably not a fair question. My
concern isand I know there is another part of the Cabinet
Office dealing with defencehow can you have a credible,
and I stress the word "credible", Common Foreign and
Security Policy if Europe does not have what I call really credible
armed forces? How much movement do you see, or do you see any
movement, of Europe recognising without that there is a deep flaw
in the whole thing?
(Sir Stephen Wall) I think there is a recognition
in principle, which is a long way from being turned into practice,
this is one of the ironies of the situation, because the one other
country that really shares that view is France. Part of the agreement
which the Prime Minister and President Chirac reached at Le Touquet
a week or two ago was to try and take steps that will encourage,
urge, cajole and push more of our partners into putting improved
resource into defence. There has always, I think, been a risk,
is European defence something that you put on note paper or is
it reality? For us we want to make it reality, not just something
which exists in theory. That does require, as you say, more capability.
104. Is there any real sign of that happening?
(Sir Stephen Wall) Limited. It is going to be one
of the on-going bits of pressure that we have to apply. I should
say for the sake of clarity that in no circumstances are we talking
about a European army, we are talking about national forces acting
together in a coherent way.
Lord Watson of Richmond
105. This idea that the EU should be able to
deploy national force within 5 to 10 days, which emerged from
Le Touquet, how real is that?
(Sir Stephen Wall) For countries like ourselves and
France it is real. What we were trying to do at Le Touquet is
something that successive British governments have been striving
to do for a long time, that is actually to have sensible coherence,
both in terms of procurement and also better co-operation on deployment.
If you are deploying to the Mediterranean it would make sense
to do that in a co-ordinated rather than an un-co-ordinated way
and obviously try to see to what extent more generally we can
work together on procurement. These are very difficult issues
and the 5 to 10 day thing is obviously aspirational but not unrealistically
Baroness Park of Monmouth
106. Does the Government agree with the idea
of double-hatting. Is it not a bit difficult to reconcile the
fact that it might be quite difficult for them to representing
one coherent policy on a serious issue?
(Sir Stephen Wall) We certainly need to have better
coherence than we have had up to now, and that is no criticism
of Solana or Patten, who have worked very well together but there
are institutional tensions in their respective organisations.
For us, and the Government have not taken a final decision on
this, the critical element for us in all of this is that a person
who is responsible, if there is a single person who is responsible
for the conduct of European Union Foreign Policy, has to be answerable
to the Council, clearly answerable to the Council. We could envisage
that person attending meetings of the Commission but we could
not envisage that person being a member of the Commission and
answerable to the Commission, subject to the collegiality of the
Commission. We are basically saying that the Commissioner for
External Relations job gets taken over by the Patten job. That
is the model we would consider. If it was the other way round
we would not consider it.
107. Taking it further, the Working Group suggests
increasing the CSFP budget and giving the higher external representative
the authority to finance the initial stages a civilian crisis
management. We know there has been problems over that. Does the
Government support that?
(Sir Stephen Wall) We do support that. It would be
advantageous to that person, if they were answerable to the Council,
to have that authority, it would then be subject to budget confirmation
and it is also in our interests to expand the CSFP budget, and
we have done so to an extent this year. It is critical for us
that the budget remains under the control of the Member States
of the European Union. We would not go beyond that in the conduct
of the CSFP budget.
108. Sir Stephen, I am moving on to question
7, in your impregnable defence to Lord Powell's set of questions
on slippery slopes you rightly said what the British Government
decide will be decided by Britain's best interests, so can I modify
question 7 to say, is there any advantage, for Britain, to be
gained by the EU representing Member States within international
organisations? What are the principles that would govern the decision
to say, yes, it would be used in this area and, no, it would not
be used for another area?
(Sir Stephen Wall) Hopefully in a reasonably enlightened
way it does come back to national interests. If you take the most
extreme example, which is not an active issue at the moment, nonetheless
it is more than just theoretical: membership of the Security Council.
If you have a single EU seat on the Security Council, from the
point of view of a large number of EU Member States that would
be a big advantage. From our point of view it would be a massive
loss of influence and interest that is unacceptable to us. In
other international organisations it makes more sense for the
European Union to speak with one voice than to have a single representative.
We have 25 votes and if you can exercise them in the same direction
that is a good thing. In one context, namely trade negotiations,
where the Commission under community law operates on our behalf,
that works well in that particular context, where the power of
a united European Union enables you to make trade-offs which enables
you to achieve something in those negotiations which you cannot
otherwise do. I think that we would be very opposed to a situation
where the idea of a single EU representative meant that our own
interests could not be properly representedLord Maclennan
knows much more about this than I do because he was on the Committee
that dealt with legal personality. If we go down the route of
legal personality you have to protect yourself from that but it
does not necessarily flow from legal personality that you have
given that away. You have not given it away but you have to make
sure you have steps in place to make the decisions that you want
to, and maintain the individual membership of Member States, where
in the vast majority of cases you will want to do.
109. On the Security Council, clearly we are
not going to give up because there would be a loss of British
interest, but there is a compelling logic from the EU that they
ought to have some form of representation, is there a way that
we could finesse this one?
(Sir Stephen Wall) I think it is very difficult. For
those of us who are permanent members we make a real effort on
the vast majority of issues to co-ordinate closely with our partners,
so when we speak in the Security Council we speak if not on their
behalf at least knowing what their positions are and hopefully
in a way that is consistent with our common interest. There are
obviously certain issues like Iraq where that cannot happen.
Lord Morris of Aberavon
110. Is there the machinery for doing that?
We saw this letter in The Times the other day of some countries
in, some countries not in.
(Sir Stephen Wall) The machinery that works in New
York as between European countries that are on the Security Council,
yes, and beyond. Our mission to the UN makes a point of having
regular consultations with the 14 partners in terms of all the
on-going business, so it does happen.
Baroness Park of Monmouth
111. Sir Stephen, would that come back to the
point that in any case if there were one EU representative, he
would have to clear every major issue with the 25 countries, which
he is probably fairly unlikely to achieve anyway, so would we
not come down to him representing the EU basically only on things
with the lowest common denominator, really minor issues that do
(Sir Stephen Wall) Yes, I absolutely agree with you.
Lord Watson of Richmond: Lord Chairman, this is not
about the Security Council issue, it is a more general towards
the end of our discussion question.
Chairman: I wonder if in that case Lord Maclennan
would like to come in.
Lord Maclennan of Rogart
112. Really as a follow-up to Lady Park's question
about the spokesmanship role in this area of the High Representative,
in your view, would the President of the Council be in any stronger
position to speak on these matters than the High Representative?
Would he not also be bound by the views of the 25?
(Sir Stephen Wall) We believe that the High Representative
role, as carried out by Solana, has added to the effectiveness
of the European Union. I think the way he has been able to operate
in the Balkans, particularly in Macedonia, is both an example
of common foreign and security policy working but also working
partly because of his personality and ability. If you look at
the Middle East peace process, however much we regret the lack
of progress there, I think since Javier Solana there has been
a greater coherence to the way the EU has operated and I would
argue a greater acceptance by the United States of the EU as a
partner as opposed to a potential rival or nuisance in terms of
the handling of the Middle East. That is one level. Our view of
the role of the permanent chair of the European Council is two-fold:
one is management of the business of the European Council, simply
ensuring that the Council is properly prepared, there is continuity
between Councils, because all the things done by the Presidency
on a six-monthly basis will become very hard when we have a larger
European Union simply in terms of logistics rather than anything
else; but also to represent the Union at the top level in the
numerous summits that take place on a regular basis between the
EU and third countries. We think there is a role at a head of
government equivalent level as well as what I would call common
foreign minister level.
113. I understand that, but I was simply seeking
to clarify whether you thought that the top role, as it were,
the role of the Chairman, would be any more unconstrained than
you thought the role of the High Representative would be?
(Sir Stephen Wall) No, it obviously has to be constrained
in the same way, but one of the things that Javier Solana has
shown is if he has the authority of the Council behind himobviously
he has to report back to the Councilnonetheless, most of
the situations he is dealing with are dynamic situations and individual
ability does count for a lot in terms of moving the situation
forward. He has to have very clear regard for the views of the
Member State and one of the things Solana has done extremely well
is to keep in very close touch with the Member States to ensure
he is not getting out of sync with them.
Lord Watson of Richmond
114. Sir Stephen, you may think this is a slightly
mischievous question but it is seriously meant. Standing back
and looking at these rifts which have opened within NATO and the
European Union on foreign policy and defence policy, is not one
of the more unexpected aspects of the current situation the emergence
of Donald Rumsfeld as a kind of recruiting sergeant for CFSP?
(Sir Stephen Wall) One thing from Romano Prodi's speech
to the European Parliament yesterday that I agreed with was his
statement that our effectiveness does depend on a very close relationship
between the European Union and the United States. It seems to
me that has to be a very central aspect of everything that we
are trying to do. So if that has been the effect of what Donald
Rumsfeld has saidand I question whether it hasit
seems to me that we have got to try and get back to a situation
in which it is seen by, not just ourselves and those who are clearly
on the same tack as ourselves, but more generally as being absolutely
in the interests of the European Union to have a really close
and effective relationship with the United States. The United
States on the one hand and we on the other do represent the two
greatest forces for democracy in the world, and it is absolutely
critical, therefore, to our mutual interests that we work together,
and I think that has been central to the policies of successive
British governments and has to remain so.
Chairman: Are there any more of my colleagues who
would like to ask any more questions?
Baroness Park of Monmouth
115. Might I ask a question which is way wide
of the mark. We happen to have been discussing earlier the latest
Council decision on Zimbabwe. I wonder, Sir Stephen, whether you
would agree that from the very beginning the measures were unlikely
to be seriously effected because of that let-out clause which
allows each country to decide whether there might be serious advantage
and wise policy results from stepping outside the agreement and
for instance inviting Mugabe to Paris. Do you feel that since
that is going to have to happen for the rest of it to be renewed,
the rest of the sanctions in any way compensate for that major
(Sir Stephen Wall) I think it is a case where something
is better than nothing. We have this regime and, as you say, it
has with it the flaw that had we not agreed within the Union to
the meeting in Paris going ahead then the sanctions would not
have been rolled over. At the same time it is not yet absolutely
decided but we have a very real prospect that either the EU Africa
Summit will be postponed or it will be clearly established that
Mugabe is barred from attending. That seems to me a net plus.
Not a very big net plus but it is better than having a situation
where you have nothing. When I think back to the 1970s when I
first had the privilege of knowing you when we were dealing with
Rhodesia, there was a British policy and an American policy and
no European policy at all. I do think that what we have got is
preferable to the absence of any policy, even though this one
does not go as far as we would like.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: Unfortunately, one thing
that is visible to Africa is that he could be attending as a guest
of honour. Still I entirely accept what you say. It is another
example of lowest common denominators as a result of a common
Lord Maclennan of Rogart
116. Is this an example of the convoy moving
at the slowest pace and might that situation point to the possible
justification in some circumstances of qualified majority voting
being the better way here?
(Sir Stephen Wall) It is a very good illustration
of the dilemma and there is a trade-off between the potential
ability to take decisions and preserving all the things which
I have been arguing that actually we need to preserve because
the interest in preserving them outweighs the interest in getting
a decision. I also do feel that if you have got a European Union
which is divided on an issue of action, as you would by definition
have under majority voting, then the effectiveness of the policy
is pretty limited. If you have a visa regime which is only operated
by the majority and not by the minority, it is worthless.
117. Sir Stephen, thank you so much for coming.
You are having an extraordinarily busy time at the moment, therefore
we are doubly grateful to you for finding time and bringing Mr
Griffin and Mr Bourne to whom we also owe our thanks although
we are sad not to have heard from them as well.
(Sir Stephen Wall) I will probably get stick for that
Chairman: Thank you very much.