Meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing global order makes it necessary for a new approach to EU foreign policy based on leadership, priority setting and defending the EU interests and values, Foreign Affairs MEPs said in a vote on Thursday. They insist that the EU must not only be concerned about coherency and consistency in its external action, but first and foremost to be proactive, set priorities and make full use of EU and Member States' resources, as promised by the Lisbon Treaty.

The text, drafted by Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), regrets that the EU has not yet developed a clear strategy for its relations with the rest of the world and that its activities are more reactive than proactive. MEPs ask for a fundamental strategic debate, which should include the Council, the Commission and the Parliament. Assigning special tasks and missions to coalitions of the willing (core groups of) EU Member States and speeding up decision-making processes in the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) must be addressed, MEPs say.

December European Council

The European Council meeting in December on the future of European defence represents an opportunity to review the EU's strategic goals and concepts, the Foreign Affairs Committee says. Heads of State and Government should deliver a clear roadmap with timelines for achieving key objectives including the use of a White Book as a common template for concurrent national security and defence reviews.

Make the comprehensive approach work

MEPs welcome the initiative by the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to develop a concept of a "Comprehensive Approach" of the EU external policies but insist the focus must be on implementation and consistency in pursuing both EU interests and values. The EU foreign policy must also be matched by the necessary funds, they stress.

The text says success in Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP) can only be achieved by drawing upon all areas of foreign policy, including the deepening cooperation on European defence.

Priority for neighbourhood

The MEPs set out that the priorities in European foreign policy can be easily identified and should be measured by success in prioritising and delivering on the European Neighbourhood Policy as well as meeting the international commitments by continuing the visible and important role the High Representative has shown recently on critical security dossiers of Iran and Syria.

Plenary vote at the next session

The full House is set to vote on the draft resolution, passed in the committee by 48 votes to 12, with 7 abstentions, when it meets next in Strasbourg between 21 and 24 October.

In the chair: Elmar Brok (EPP, DE)