Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

2013 review of the organisation and functioning of the EEAS

Delivered in Plenary - 12th June 2013

Mr President

I was initially quite sceptical about the EEAS, which had the potential to seize an unacceptable level of power from national governments.

However, I have now slightly tempered my views, and under Cathy Ashton we have seen an institution develop from scratch which has the potential to add value in those consensual areas of foreign affairs, human rights, security and defence policy, where all EU Member States speak with one voice and where no conflict occurs with NATO.

Such examples include organising sanctions against Iran’s nuclear programme, the excellent work of EUNAVFOR ATALANTA in dramatically reducing piracy off the Somalia coast, the current work of the EU training mission in Mali and Burma and the recent groundbreaking achievement of the Kosovo-Serb agreement, for which I offer the Vice-President/High Representative my sincere congratulations.

These successes demonstrate precisely what we want from the EEAS, which is an economy-of-scale organisation performing a useful job within clearly defined parameters. Therefore, it is regrettable that this report attempts to enlarge the remit of the EEAS far beyond those terms, and in practice effects an institutional power grab.

The ECR cannot accept a scenario in which EU battle groups are deployed as a rapid-reaction force, not least because it would mainly be British and French troops doing the heavy lifting. The report then adds insult to injury by seeking the end of unanimity on CFSP matters, with the eventual possibility that the same French and British troops could be committed to battle under QMV, without the express consent of their national governments.

Foreign and security policy is the backbone of national sovereignty and Member States have different priorities, budgets and geopolitical strategic concerns. It is unacceptable to force an individual country to make highly costly and often dangerous decisions contrary to its national interests.

The ECR group also rejects reducing the input of Member States in the Council. The rotating Presidency on a six-monthly basis is a fundamental element of our institutional framework. Any attempts to end its role would simply add ammunition to those voices bewailing – falsely perhaps – the lack of democracy and accountability within the EU structures.

Lastly, the RELEX legacy needs revisiting. Why is there no delegation, Ms Ashton, in Panama, but a big one in Barbados?