As the world’s largest economic power, the European Union should obviously have adequate diplomatic representation worldwide. But how? It is not a question of what is desirable but what is realistic, effective and well-founded. Can Europe speak with one voice? Will the European External Action Service (EEAS) provide coherent, consistent action?
In the past various European States tried one of two methods: alliances or conquests. They would thus have one dominant voice for the Continent. It did not work. Or at best the conquerors like Hitler and Stalin were soon defeated. Peaceful or wartime alliances fell apart because of human greed and injustice. Neither Fist nor Fudge will provide the basis for lasting foreign policy.
After a few centuries of not getting their act together, Europe finally hit on a solution. It was a supranational one. It was not conquest, not a threat of domination, nor flimsy intergovernmentalism. That solution arrived the moment when Six countries created the European Community. It started functioning on 10 August 1952.
The first foreign policy act of this European Coal and Steel Community was to have diplomatic representation with such States as the United Kingdom and the USA. With the British this took the form an association agreement as the country was not a Member State of the Community. Britain became the first Associate Member of the Community.
With the Americans, the European Community established diplomatic relations. The High Authority of the Community was able to take out a US loan that helped set the European Community on a firm footing of independence. The big governments could not control the strings of finance and thus lord it over the smaller European States. Neither could an autocrat who took over a major country like France or Germany dictate his foreign policy to the first Commission, the High Authority.
The core of that supranational Foreign Policy system has never been broken. Not that haughty governments haven’t tried their hardest.
The two treaties of Rome give Europe more extensive diplomatic powers. The Euratom treaty is designed to give Europe diplomatic muscle in the non-proliferation of atomic bombs. Today, when some states are arming themselves and are driven by religio-political ideologies and their mobs are shouting ‘Death to the world-devourers!’ –it is not used. Why? Ask the “leadership” of Europe’s diplomacy!
Will Euratom only start to be considered as an instrument of diplomacy whem some fanatic acolyte-martyr explodes an atomic device in one of Europe’s cities? Europeans have already experienced murderous bombings in Paris, London and Madrid. Do European diplomats imagine they could then solve such a problem by closing their eyes beforehand and then afterwards by reacting with massive force? That’s just not practical against the real ideological culprits. It can also be counter-productive as the West should have found out already following the 9/11 attacks on Washington and New York.
Europe’s third treaty, the European Economic Community succeeded in creating a foreign policy in its own sector. For example, Europe had a single trade policy for GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and now has one for the later WTO (World Trade Organisation). That single voice can speak out only because it was based on a supranational Community. The European Coal and Steel Community did this sort of job in the years before the “Common Market”.
After many years of successful application of these principles, short-sighted politicians forgot the basis on which Europe had created its own foreign policy. Or they did not want to be reminded. The party politicians ignored the Europe Declaration of the Founding Fathers that said the policy must be agreed by people who are free to choose. They thought they could do the trick by themselves. They devised a new treaty, the Constitutional Treaty, also known as the Lisbon Treaty, where foreign policy is not based on a supranational Community but guess what? Intergovernmentalism. The failing system of the past! It did not stop the Napoleonic wars. It is unable to meet the potentially catastrophic challenges that the planet faces today. To act we need a stronger democratic consensus not less. And it is no use to have foreign policy coming from party politicians who have lost the trust of society.
That is a big step back from a supranational Community system towards pure internationalism or inter-governmentalism. It relies on secret political collusion in the Council of Ministers without real democratic supervision. Supranational Community diplomatic representation is based on sound, long-lasting principles and the European rule of law. It is not perfect but it is light-years away from the sad experience of previous centuries.
The BIG mistake that the party-based creators of this system are making relates to their incomprehension that Europeans should be creating a diplomatic system NOT based on the past ideas. It has to be based on the totally new age that started with the Schuman Declaration. Europe is living in a period where, as Schuman said 60 years ago, for Europe ’War is not only unthinkable but materially impossible.’ Unfortunately it is not only thinkable but being rendered more and more possible elsewhere. Europe is under attack and the object of financial and economic blackmail. Party politicians do not seem to understand that such a system, never known in Europe’s several milleniums of history, requires new thinking. Peace in Europe does not mean civil society can be silenced on foreign policy matters
Instead of correcting their bad record so far, governments are trying to sweep it under the carpet. Member State governments still have not fulfilled their treaty obligations to make this European diplomacy really effective. For example after nearly sixty years they have not once held a Europe-wide election for the European Parliament. It is required in the 1951 Treaty of Paris and those of Rome, 1957. However, a supranational Community is still the only really effective basis for creating a common policy for 27 disparate democracies.
Intergovernmentalism rests on the shaky sands of governments, who at every election or collapse of coalition, change their policy positions. This is equivalent of the Americans trying to create a diplomatic service based on a consensus of 50 States. The Americans long ago decided they needed a federal system to ensure diplomatic representation. However, European leaders seem to have decided that the eighteenth century is their ideal model. Can diplomacy be accomplished just by hiring 5000 or 7000 diplomats among national civil services and party hacks?
An effective new European diplomatic service cannot succeed based on a failed philosophy. It is also turning its back on the key event of all Europe’s history. Europe’s new diplomacy that began in August 1952 was based potentially on two things: democracy and a new European order of law. The real strength of foreign policy is where it can rely on democratically backed European supranational law. What the Lisbon EEAS system is trying to do is twofold: deny the democratic potential of the Community such as the elections the governments promised in the treaties and secondly base it on Council based fiat-law which is hollow.
Cutting out the powers of the democratic institutions won’t work. Replacing them with a political cartel in the Council and shutting the doors behind it will not cut the mustard.
Conclusion: A solid European diplomatic representation needs to be based on an in-depth supranational Community system. Today Europe should be concerned with the world challenges that threaten both itself and the planet. Intergovernmentalism by fiat will not suffice.
If the European leaders are serious about acting diplomatically for the planet they need to go back to their history books. A further Community needs to be created on democratic and supranational principles to meet the Climate and Energy challenges. A European Energy Community is the way to tackle the most urgent planetary problems facing Europe. The Copenhagen Climate Change conference showed the paucity of diplomacy of the present European anti-supranational, neo-Gaullist system.
The planet needs some action from Europe. Europe needs to activate its democracy.