|Author (Person)||Coss, Simon|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.44, 29.11.01, p2|
FRANCE and Germany say they will put forward plans to end the ongoing confusion over whether EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten or Council Secretary-General Javier Solana is the real voice of the Union's foreign policy.
The two countries made the announcement in a joint declaration released after last week's Franco-German summit in the French city of Nantes.
"In order to reinforce the Union's external actions and to give them more coherence and visibility, we need to develop the synergy between the actions of the high representative for the common and security policy [Solana] and the Commissioner for External Relations. France and Germany will put forward proposals to this end," the statement read.
Diplomats say the two countries are likely to unveil their plans at this month's EU summit in Laeken.
Aides to France's European Affairs minister, Pierre Moscovici, were this week playing their cards close to their chest over the exact nature of the proposals.
But Moscovici's spokeswoman confirmed that France is worried that the EU's current foreign policy set up lacks credibility.
"It is clear that at the moment Europe could be criticised for not having a clear presence on the international stage," the spokeswoman said. She added that France and Germany would be unlikely to call for one of the two top foreign policy posts to be scrapped outright, a suggestion which has been made in some quarters.
But she said it was obvious that more clarity was needed when it came to the question of who should be doing what in the Patten-Solana relationship.
In principle however, any moves to change the current set-up would be likely to see the external relations commissioner's political importance reduced.
When Solana was picked as the high representative in 1999, much was made of the fact that the EU finally had one person to represent its Common Foreign and Security Policy. Indeed the Spaniard's semi-formal nickname is "Mr. CFSP".
This means EU Governments will be unlikely to reduce Solana's status in the near future.
But other critics have pointed out that the real problem with the CFSP's profile has nothing to do with the Patten-Solana problem.
They say that while EU leaders such as UK Prime Minister Tony Blair or French President Jacques Chirac take
it upon themselves to launch individual diplomatic initiatives whenever an international crisis blows up - as both have over the US terror attacks - a common EU foreign policy will never amount to much.
France and Germany say they will put forward plans to end the ongoing confusion over whether External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten or Council Secretary-General Javier Solana is the real voice of the EU's foreign policy.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|