News BlogEEAS High Representative

One + One = Three

(BRUSSELS2) This is the new European equation. Foreign Ministers agreed yesterday to allow a high-level presence of the European Union (EU) at various meetings. This is to ensure the representation of the High Representative of the EU who cannot physically be everywhere: in Brussels or in the European Parliament, in capitals, at the UN or on a visit abroad... Depending on what As a minister participating in the meeting clarified, this task would fall primarily to “ministers (foreign affairs or defense) of the current presidency or rather of the trio of presidencies”. NB: the current trio of presidencies is made up of Spain, Belgium, Hungary; the future trio of Poland, Denmark and Cyprus.

On behalf of the High Representative

This performance has already started. In Yamoussoukro, on Saturday (May 21), it was Belgian Minister Steven Vanackere who represented the EU for the investiture of Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara. And tomorrow, Thursday (May 24), Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich will report on the latest meeting of Defense Ministers, “ on behalf of the High Representative…”. (Maj) Ultimately it was Pieter de Crem, the Belgian Minister of Defense, who was mandated for this.

Representation is not information

However, this official representation must be distinguished from other meetings or trips that take place “in consultation” with the High Representative. For example, before his visit to Benghazi the Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, spoke with officials of the diplomatic service " to get some information " and " agree on the messages to be delivered on site ". The same was true when the Libyan Foreign Minister, Abdelati Laabidi, met his Cypriot counterpart, Marcos Kyprianou.

This provision is a first practical, but necessary, adaptation of the system put in place by the Lisbon Treaty which is, in fact, impossible to maintain for a single person. It could put an end to the endless remarks about the absence of the EU at this or that meeting or, worse, an empty chair. But, in fact, it is also a certain return of weight to the rotating presidencies, which had been excluded (unfairly in my opinion) from their role of representing the EU. We can never say enough how the exercise of a European presidency is a tool of European education in most member states. We are thus reinventing the “European troika” which had certain advantages…

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).