Blog AnalysisEEAS High Representative

EU Special Representative: race on the verge of extinction or renewal? (Shift)

Meeting of Assistant Minister Li Hui (China) with Pierre Morel, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, 2008 (Credit: Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

(BRUSSELS2) Little by little, the envoys and special representatives of the European Union are leaving and not all are replaced. There were 12 at the start of the year, there are only 8 today and there could only be 4 or 5 by the end of the year.

A logical evolution ...

This change is, in part, logical. The end of certain mandates appeared inevitable with the rise in power of European Union delegations which no longer only represent the interests (and programs) of the European Commission but represent the European Union, exercising a more political role, close to 'an embassy. Three of the special representatives are already “double hatted”, that is to say they combine their mandate with the management of the EU embassy. This option will first tend to develop (more dual functions) then disappear, the double hat is no longer justified in this case since there is a single parent institution: the diplomatic service and no longer two as before ( Commission and Council).

… but also a certain “distrust”

In other positions, the change in the geopolitical situation requires developments: end of mission of certain special representatives, opening of positions in others. For the moment, however, it should be noted that although the end of the mission has sometimes been recorded, no new mission has yet been initiated. With surprising results: the post of Special Representative responsible for monitoring the peace process in the Middle East is vacant.

Even if those around the High Representative (HR) admit to thinking about several avenues, we undeniably feel a certain distrust of the High Representative regarding such measures. Cathy Ashton shows that she prefers to use the structures of the diplomatic service (EEAS) which are just being put in place, rather than adding new levels or people with responsibilities, who would be “weightless” in the hierarchy and a little too “free electrons”.

A very specific role

The role of a special representative cannot, in fact, be confused with that of a head of delegation. The advantage of his status – designated directly by the ministers of the 27 according to a procedure included in the Treaty itself on a proposal from the HR – allows him to have direct access to the High Representative or other key political leaders. plan in the European Union, as well as outside. What is necessary in delicate negotiations (peace process type or frozen or active conflict resolution).

Position details
renewed or to be renewed

Four terms not renewed

A mandate ended at the end of January: that of General PM Joana, advisor and special envoy for the peace forces in Africa and Somalia. (NB: a significant loss of expertise because in addition to Somalia which he had followed particularly, with AMISOM, the general was also one of the good experts of... Ivory Coast, having commanded the Licorne force from June 2003 to June 2004). It has not been replaced. This function is now followed by the EU Military Staff, I was assured. But the idea of ​​a EUSR for the Horn of Africa is also being studied.

Three mandates ended at the end of February: Peter Semneby (South Caucasus), Marc Otte (Middle East peace process) and Kálmán Mizsei (Moldova). They have not been renewed or replaced.

The position in Moldova has already been abolished, the monitoring of Moldovan or Ukrainian affairs being taken over by each of the delegations concerned and the negotiations on Transnistria being followed directly by the director of the department, Miroslav Lajcak.

The post in the South Caucasus should not be replaced, even if the discussion remains open, with the countries of the region, the High Representative explains. Its function could be grouped – quite logically – with the mandate for Central Asia.

For the Middle-East, the situation is more delicate. The presence of a special representative did not raise a shadow of doubt. But to everyone's surprise, Cathy Ashton recently indicated to EU ambassadors that she intended to personally follow this issue. At the EEAS, it is the political director (deputy secretary general), Helga Schmid, who is following the subject. In fact, the High Representative seems to want to leave the field open to Tony Blair who is officially the European representative to the Quartet. But the effectiveness of the work in the field still remains to be proven. In the meantime, westudy the question".

A term ends: Kosovo

One mandate ends at the end of April: Pieter Feith in Kosovo, who exercises the dual mandate of representative of the international community and special representative. A problem similar to that prevailing in Bosnia-Herzegovina with Valentin Inzko arises for Europeans. But the solution could be faster. The future position will remain a “double hatted”: head of delegation and special representative. THE position has just been opened.

Seven terms continue until the end of August

Seven mandates remain to run until August 31, 2011: Koen Vervaeke (African Union + head of delegation), Vygaudas Usackas (Afghanistan + head of delegation) Rosalind Marsden (Sudan), Pierre Morel (Central Asia and Crisis in Georgia), Valentin Inzko (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Erwan Fouéré (Fyrom + head of delegation), Roeland van den Geer (Great Lakes).

The first four positions could be renewed. That of Inzko in Bosnia-Herzegovina depends on international developments; the objective is to eliminate it, with Bosnia becoming more integrated into a logic of accession (read: Europe is reconfiguring its presence in Bosnia. threat of sanctions). That of Fouéré in Fyrom is deleted. And the post in the Big lakes could also be deleted.

new mandates

Without being formalized, several mandates for new special representatives are under consideration. One would be linked to the Horn of Africa and the fight against piracy. Two other mandates could also be mentioned: one on the issue of security in the Sahel, the other for Libya, the Arab world or the southern neighborhood. Positions which can be justified on the one hand because there is no delegation in the countries concerned - Somalia is followed by the delegation in Kenya while Libya is followed by the delegation in Tunisia -; on the other hand, by the complexity of the problems to be dealt with which go beyond the geographical area of ​​a single delegation.

In summary, we can notice some significant absences. The non-renewal of the mandate in Somalia, in the Middle East, is worrying because it leaves – whatever people say – a big “hole” in the EU's diplomatic coverage. Not naming anyone on Iran or Libya (two “problematic” countries where there is no EU delegation but where political and strategic negotiations are underway, or to be initiated) is also a political error masterful.

Read also: EU special representatives in the eye of the storm

(updated: Thursday April 7 Kosovo, South Caucasus, Great Lakes)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).