(BRUSSELS2) Around their meal tray, the 27 Foreign Ministers will have had on Monday (14 November), a cabaret subject on which one can get one's jaws stuck if one is not careful: European security policy and of common defence. However, there was no question of taking out the knives or sticking the forks in the back, listening to the different protagonists.
Quiet the debate
The time was indeed not for confrontation. The positions of each are now well known. " We are in a logic of appeasement, to find a collective way out, and test around concrete advances " assures a diplomat from a Member State. To facilitate the discussion, there will also be no documents on the table, nor conclusions to be expected. It will be a moment very useful for us but maybe disappointing for you (the press)” sketched a diplomat. This meeting is primarily intended to allow each minister to express himself and to prepare decisions which will be taken at the end of November beginning of December by Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs. " There is a time when it takes a discussion at the political level to stir a little and test a little the possible evolutions results a diplomat. " Let's be realistic launched the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, summarizing in concise terms the discussion
A cycle of discussions initiated several months ago
This discussion is part of a sequence that began with the letter from the 3 countries of the Weimar triangle (Poland, France, Germany). Pui continued with an act of bravery last July at the Council of Foreign Ministers, when the almost 26 cornered the United Kingdom to wave its whistle and say no to the idea of a planning center and military command for EU operations. A "red line" for the great Bretons. Since then, there have been several discussions within the Weimar group, bilaterally, then at the informal Council of Defense Ministers.
In search of an invisible solution
The question of the OHQ remains a hard point of stumbling block. The Weimar + countries (Germany, Poland, France + Spain, Italy) had clearly expressed their intention to move forward, if necessary separately. However, this "autonomous" option now seems to be set aside, at least temporarily. The idea of setting up permanent structured cooperation should therefore not be the subject of proposals from the High Representative. " It's not on the agenda “says one on the side of Catherine Ashton. Rather, the question would be: How to ensure that what exists in Brussels in terms of structures and procedures can be strengthened, what is called cost efficiency.
William Hague, moreover, had said in July that he did not want a new structure but was ready to study the improvement of existing structures. And this is the way we are working. " The question is not to have a headquarters, a new structure but a more efficient system. » Because today this is not really the case, continues this European diplomat. “Each time we have to start over, recreate an OHQ, and we lose the memory of previous operations, with another organization and method we could reduce the cost and have a little more efficiency ».
In practice, we must therefore find a solution that satisfies the United Kingdom, which wants to be able to say: “nothing has changed” and the other countries, which want this to change drastically.” We will try to find a logic acceptable to all: less for the others, more for the others commented a national diplomat. In my opinion, the path of internal reorganization, under the leadership of the High Representative, who now has the capacity and the power to do so, through the Treaty of Lisbon, still seems to me the best solution.
The need for a second wind for operations
Beyond the request of the Weimar countries, this discussion will be an opportunity for Catherine Ashton to ask the Member States to "shake themselves up". There is a feeling that the operations in progress need a new breath, an effort of all the Member States to bring the necessary contribution for these operations which need. explains a European diplomat.
This blog had already spoken of the difficulties that the commander of Atalanta had to have enough buildings on the spot in the fight against piracy or the lack of manpower for the police units (maintenance of order) in Kosovo. These difficulties are now openly confirmed by a senior official of the diplomatic service just like those, which do not date from yesterday, of Eupol Afghanistan.
« We need to see a little more clearly, to have a clear indication from the Member States of the will to move forward. We need to see what operations could be launched in the future – eg. for the reform of security sectors in Africa (Côte d'Ivoire, Sahel, Horn of Africa), and especially whether the States are ready to respond ". In terms of capabilities, we also have to move forward, and see which projects each country is ready to move forward on.