A discretion or solidarity clause?

(BRUSSELS2) It is in total discretion that the European Commission and the High Representative adopted, on the eve of Christmas, a “paper”. It was one of the most notable advances in foreign and security policy. But it hasn't been advertised. And it took until mid-January for this paper to be sent to the EU Council of Ministers. We knew that the delivery of this paper had been difficult, “corridor battles” opposing the EEAS (the European diplomatic service) and the European Commission, to have the leadership of the project. In the end, when reading the project, we rather have the feeling that it was the “community” option that prevailed over the “diplomatic” option. But this is only a first impression, which will certainly have to be “refined”.

The clause – based on Article 222 of the Treaty – applies “ in the event of disasters and terrorist attacks on EU territory, whether land territory, territorial sea or airspace ". It applies regardless of whether whether the origin of the crisis is inside or outside the EU ". The clause also applies to: 1) ships (navigating in international waters), 2) aircraft (flying in international airspace) and 3) critical infrastructure (such as offshore oil and gas installations) that fall within the jurisdiction of a Member State. It can thus be noted that the proposal retains a fairly narrow, territorial (or flag) definition of the notion of attack on a Member State. It forgets, in my opinion, the notion of an attack against an establishment of a Member State outside the EU (embassy, ​​school, etc.). A Drakkar type attack in Lebanon or In Amenas in Algeria can always occur and exceed the capacities of the Member State involved. In this case, the solidarity clause would not apply. A bit limited...

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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).