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[Editorial] European foreign policy. The failed Maastricht march

(B2) Despite all the official speeches, the common foreign and security policy of the European Union has not experienced the hoped-for leap with Maastricht. 30 years after the entry into force of the Treaty on European Union, Europe still does not walk on two legs. One economic, the other political.

Extraordinary European Council at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on October 29 to celebrate the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty. In the foreground, Jacques Delors. (Photo: European Commission)

Initially, the ambition was great. It was nothing more and nothing less than laying the foundations for a truly common foreign policy. In the proposals made by the Delors Commission in 1990, the framework was established: single place of decision in the Council, qualified majority for foreign policy decisions, competence of Coreper ambassadors to prepare decisions, consultation or information of the European Parliament, establishment of an embryonic diplomatic service within the Council, a solidarity clause, etc.

Of all this, there will be almost nothing left. Of course, foreign policy is included in the Treaty. A discussion between the Member States within the Council is planned. We put in place a decision-making mechanism, joint action. But we are a long way from the initial ambition. The Maastricht additions consist above all of tweaking the political cooperation that pre-existed, without however giving it the tools, processes or means to ensure that Europe speaks with one voice. “ The machinery installed will not work " coward  Jacques Delors, a little bitter in December 1991. “ This is one of the greatest areas of disappointment for the (European) Commission. »

The reluctance of some - Germany in particular, France too but also certain "small" countries worried about the communitarianization of certain subjects - will get the better of the ambition. The outbreak of the conflict in Yugoslavia will complete the reflection. The agreement of the Twelve will ultimately be reached on the single currency, the Great Achievement of the Maastricht Treaty. But the jump into foreign matters will be postponed until later.

Some of these proposals are found a quarter of a century later in the Treaty of Lisbon, but not all. And without having the effectiveness of the 1990 proposals. The other proposals (qualified majority for example, single place of decision, etc.) are still at an impasse. And this now weighs on the “voice of Europe” which is struggling to remain unique. The division of Europeans on the current conflict between Israel and Gaza shows this (read: [News] European Unity on Gaza shatters at the UN).

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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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).