Some advice for the EU's recently appointed foreign policy supremoby David Hannay / August 20, 1999 / Leave a comment
Congratulations on your appointment to the job of running Europe’s foreign and security policy. Congratulations, too, on your performance as secretary-general of Nato. Of course, having a predecessor who left under a cloud, after an undistinguished tenure, helped. But getting three new members into the alliance without undue diplomatic fracas, negotiating a cooperative relationship with the old adversary, Russia (looking a bit frayed just now, but still a crucial building-block for a more secure Europe), and handling successfully a conflict as complex as Kosovo is not bad going.
What you are letting yourself in for next will be a huge cultural shift. In place of the Rolls-Royce which is Nato-a series of careful drivers and elaborate maintenance schedules, never driven at excessive speed and rarely under difficult conditions-you are getting behind the wheel of an oddly designed and untested vehicle whose wheels are all too likely to come off the first time you take it round a corner. Moreover, the EU states have not given you much in the way of tools to do the job-no foreign ministry, no network of diplomats, just a planning unit and, if you are lucky, a new committee of representatives of the member states whose backing will be vital to you but whose propensity for back-seat driving will be exasperating.
You will need to press the member states, quite soon, over the inadequacy of the resources put at your disposal. You will certainly need some military advice if the security dimension of your responsibilities is to be fulfilled-all the more so if, by the end of next year, the WEU ceases to exist and the process begun by the British and French at St Malo is brought to a conclusion. You will also need access to intelligence material jealously guarded by the member states, if you are not to be left miles behind.
The EU is facing a big cultural shift too, by appointing a senior political figure to head a policy which hitherto has existed mainly on paper. It is not clear that the member states realise what they have let themselves in for. The old excuses for the ineffectiveness of Europe’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) won’t wash now. And all the joint actions so lovingly crafted around conference tables in Brussels will not answer Harold Macmillan’s greatest concern: “Events, dear boy, events….” The new strategy for Russia is not,…