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Luxembourg pleads for European consulates

(BRUSSELS2) Like several countries (*), Luxembourg is campaigning to strengthen the European External Action Service (EEAS), particularly by giving it a role in consular protection. The Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean Asselborn, explained this in detail at the diplomatic conference in Latvia at the end of December. This is a question of both principle and practicality. “At a time when Euroscepticism is on the rise, it is important that the public sees in concrete terms what the European Union can offer our citizens. When a disaster occurs in a country or and our citizens need help or information, the EU delegation there should be able to offer support to our supporters".

Citizens should be able to request assistance from the EU delegation

In practice, the European network is very extensive and has more representation than can be offered by countries which have only more limited representation in the world. Luxembourg already has certain consular arrangements with other countries such as Belgium. But it could be developed. “Our citizens can then be assisted by Belgian embassies and consulates if necessary. Why couldn't EU delegations have similar arrangements and offer this type of support to all EU citizens ?” he asks himself. Several countries (*) have thus started to work on specific consular tasks that EU embassies could fulfill. “I intend to push this initiative with all possible means, because it is not only good for small countries which are not present everywhere in the world but because it is also good for the European Union in general and the public's perception of the EU.”

Take initiatives

Luxembourg is one of the signatory countries of the “letter of 12” (**) and calls for a strengthening of the methods of the EEAS, better sharing of information on site in third countries but also a closer association of States with recruitment procedures. “Representatives of Member States must fully participate in the juries which select the candidates. Without this, like being sure that the traditional skills of state diplomats will be appreciated precisely“, explains Asselborn. More generally, he believes that we must believe in the European diplomatic service, and that its strengthening is necessary. “Its primary mission is to assist the High Representative.” But not only. “It should not only allow Lady Ashton to represent the EU but also, and this is crucial, to develop policy, take initiatives and actively build consensus around them.“. A barely disguised message to the High Representative herself…

The Community method, forever

The Luxembourg minister also placed his intervention under the sign of a vigorous plea in favor of the community method, the “only truly democratic and sustainable decision-making method, even in troubled times“. This method "ensures that the rights and interests of any State or private party are protected on the basis of a democratic and equitable system” he explains, before blurting out: “The rule of the strongest has no legitimacy in the European Union, it never has, and never will.” A very clear allusion to the initiative of Germany and France on the fiscal compact taken before the last summit in December. “There is a creeping trend towards intergovernmentalism spreading across the EU.” But this does not seem to be the right method, he likes to illustrate with an example. Didn't the last summit in Brussels decide at least on a few points (automatic sanctions, participation of the private sector), the opposite of what Germany and France had agreed, all alone, in Deauville.

(*) Benelux countries, Baltic countries, Sweden and Finland.

(**) Read : The letter of the Twelve on the European diplomatic service. What “suggestions”!

Text of speech in B2 docs

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).

One thought on “Luxembourg pleads for European consulates"

  • A European passport, a European consular service, common formalities, care and assistance for Europeans outside Europe, it's European, but it's also an opportunity for States to make economies of scale on consular services (and to concentrate the resources of embassies on the political aspect), and to reduce the operating costs of our States. Unity is strength, unity also saves money for taxpayers... it is in this sense that the Luxembourg idea must be taken into account... and not create a new "European" layer of consular service (no duplicate please).

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