ASSEMBLY OF WESTERN EUROPEAN UNION
The Interparliamentary European Security and Defence Assembly
24 APRIL 2003
INFORMAL MEETING OF EU FOREIGN MINISTERS ON TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS
Contribution from President Jan Dirk Blaauw
The military campaign in Iraq served to highlight the different philosophies that already separated Europe from the United States in a number of areas:
• Europe does not share the US approach of linking the task of eliminating international terrorism with other problems such as that of dealing with “rogue states” – which are seen as posing a threat to international peace – or with broader issues such as the question of restructuring the political landscape in the Middle East and in countries even further afield.
• The war in Iraq would appear to have been the first time the new US national security strategy was implemented, suggesting that from now on pre-emptive military action can be a legitimate option even without a mandate or authorisation from the United Nations. For a large majority of European countries the UN Security Council must have the final word when it comes to authorising any use of military force.
• As a result of what happened in the UN Security Council over the Iraq question, the US Administration will now be very reluctant to allow any multinational body to influence the use it makes of its military forces.
• The US Administration is likely to bypass multilateral institutions such as the United Nations or NATO, and seek a coalition of nations willing to support its de facto unilateralist policy.
• The ambiguous US position regarding European efforts to develop a more independent security and defence policy might turn into open hostility.
• Europe has so far been unable to provide the United States with any credible alternative for an appropriate response to the need to counter threats to international peace.
Implications of the above for action by EU member states:
• The EU should draw up a European Security and Strategy Concept in response to the US National Security Strategy, and identify common security threats and joint responses. What do we want our military capabilities for?
• There is no viable alternative to transatlantic cooperation. Initiatives designed to strengthen European cooperation are to be welcomed provided their object is not to seek any such alternative.
• The modified Brussels Treaty (mBT) gives the EU member states all the elements necessary to increase European security and defence cooperation without upsetting our transatlantic partners. Why not have another look at it when you examine the latest proposals by the Convention Praesidium for Article 21 of the Constitutional Treaty? I attach Articles IV, V and VIII of the mBT to this contribution for information.
• The European Union member states should:
– Continue to show understanding and active support for the United States’ specific security needs in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks.
– Explain to the US that the place for it to address its future security concerns is in international institutions, particularly the United Nations. Europeans should streamline their representation in these bodies. They should also signal their readiness to be at the disposal of the United Nations for the purposes of coercive action and to deliver the necessary forces.
– Initiate a discussion in NATO on the consequences of the US National Security Strategy for transatlantic security and defence cooperation and in particular for NATO’s strategic concept.
– Engage in a robust policy to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The control and prevention of WMD proliferation should become part of ESDP. The creation of a Euro-Atlantic centre to counter such proliferation should be envisaged.
– Restructure their armed forces within the context of existing financial constraints and show a willingness to improve military capabilities. From a transatlantic perspective, only if there are European capabilities to count on will it be possible to share responsibilities and decision-making. Among other things, this implies reducing force numbers and transforming units into well-trained, high-tech forces.
– Be prepared to take over military stabilising missions in order to relieve the US and to show that the EU is a viable entity well able to take on a fair share of the burden. This requires the creation of Headquarters capable of leading a proper peace-enforcement mission.
– Rethink its stance on transatlantic cooperation in the field of missile defence with a view to finding common solutions to perceived security threats. This issue also holds great appeal for Russia.
– Contribute to the US Administration’s efforts aimed at creating a Palestinian state and ensuring the security of the State of Israel.
As far as the US is concerned, we must persuade our transatlantic partners to:
• Recognise the importance of maintaining a long-term partnership with the EU instead of trying to reap the short-term benefits of ever-changing coalitions of nations. A united, militarily capable Europe will serve US security and defence interests.
• Give more credit to Europe’s involvement in international crisis management and the fight against terrorism, for example in Afghanistan and the Balkans, and lessen their resolve to withdraw from existing missions.
• Become much less reluctant to share their technological know-how with European partners so as to help close the existing capability gap.
• Work with Europeans on a binding and enforceable non-proliferation and anti-WMD policy.
The EU should task the Institute for Security Studies, which was set up by WEU and which is trying to establish a follow-up to the WEU Transatlantic Forum, to seek a wider audience than its mainly academic partners as at present, and increasingly to involve parliamentarians in its transatlantic dialogue.
It is national parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic who play a vital role in voting defence budgets, taking crucial decisions on armaments acquisitions, approving the deployment of troops or authorising foreign armed forces to use national airspace and territory.
We need some way in which to amplify and coordinate interparliamentary efforts and dovetail our activities with what you are trying to do in intergovernmental terms.
The creation of a joint interparliamentary working group on global security policy should be envisaged, making provision for the participation of delegations from the
Assembly of WEU – the interparliamentary European Security and Defence Assembly.
I would be happy to help develop this idea with all interested parties under the auspices of the Presidency, if you wish.
Articles IV, V and VIII of the modified Brussels Treaty
(The Brussels Treaty signed on 17 March 1948 was amended by the Paris Agreements signed on 23 October 1954)
In the execution of the Treaty, the High Contracting Parties and any Organs established by Them under the Treaty shall work in close co-operation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Recognising the undesirability of duplicating the military staffs of NATO, the Council and its Agency will rely on the appropriate military authorities of NATO for information and advice on military matters.
If any of the High Contracting Parties should be the object of an armed attack in Europe, the other High Contracting Parties will, in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, afford the Party so attacked all the military and other aid and assistance in their power.
ARTICLE VIII (paragraph 3)
At the request of any of the High Contracting Parties the Council shall be immediately convened in order to permit Them to consult with regard to any situation which may constitute a threat to peace, in whatever area this threat should arise, or a danger to economic stability.