|Author (Person)||Abbott, Dennis|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.9, No.7, 20.2.03, p4|
THE European Parliament must work more closely with national parliamentarians to ensure proper, democratic scrutiny of EU security and defence policy, according to the new head of the assembly of the Western European Union (WEU).
Jan Dirk Blaauw, who took over as president of the intergovernmental forum last month, spoke out after holding talks with Commissioner Michel Barnier, chairman of the Convention on the future of Europe defence working group.
Blaauw believes the WEU assembly, composed of 364 MPs from all present and future member states, is a "very suitable" model for future collective participation by national parliaments in the EU.
One of its key aims is to build closer relations with MEPs to improve oversight in the field of EU security and defence policy (ESDP).
Blaauw, who served in the Dutch Navy from 1962 to 1978, feels that it is only by working together that MEPs and their national counterparts can provide proper scrutiny in this sensitive area. He fears ESDP is at risk of being undermined due to weaknesses in intelligence gathering, which he described as its "Achilles heel".
"With the exception of Philippe Morillon [French MEP and former commander of the United Nations forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992-1993], we don't have the feeling that MEPs are addressing this issue," said Blaauw. "We want MEPs to sit down and work with us on this."
"This is our cri de coeur," added WEU Secretary-General Colin Cameron, during a briefing in Brussels.
Though the WEU transferred its operational activities to the EU in 2000, it continues to have a key role in scrutinising armaments procurement and weapons research through the Western European Armaments Group and Western European Armaments Organisation.
It is also responsible for ensuring implementation of Article V of the 1954 Brussels Treaty, which created the WEU. This is similar to Article V in the NATO Treaty and states that if any member countries are the object of armed attack in Europe, the others will afford "all the military and other aid and assistance in their power".
Barnier's Convention working group is in favour of incorporating a similar solidarity clause into the future EU constitution. This would allow for a response to a terrorist attack on a member state using both civil and military means. While he was in Brussels, Blaauw, together with representatives of the WEU's presidential, defence, political, technological and aerospace and parliamentary groups, also held talks with General Jean-Luc Lagadec, head of plans and policy at the EU Military Staff, and Elmar Brok, chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.
Blaauw floated the idea for an armed European coastguard service to tackle the problem of illegal immigration.
He said it was unfair to expect countries on the frontline such as Italy, Greece and Spain to deal with this alone.
"It's an EU task in solidarity to cooperate in these things," he added.
The European Parliament must work more closely with national parliamentarians to ensure proper, democratic scrutiny of EU security and defence policy, according to the new head of the assembly of the Western European Union, Jan Dirk Blaauw.
|Subject Categories||Security and Defence|