The EU’s external policy needs a fresh approach, driven by effective coordination among EU institutions and member states and real, coherent use of their foreign policy tools, Parliament said in a resolution voted on Thursday. The EU’s failure to deal coherently with many recent conflicts has damaged its credibility as a global player and security provider, MEPs said.

The EU must be able to mobilise its political, security, defence, economic, trade, development and humanitarian resources to respond flexibly and effectively to key international challenges, Parliament says. This demands coherence between its institutions, finances and practice, it stresses.

“The comprehensive approach too often emerges a posteriori rather than being built a priori”, said Security and Defence Subcommittee chair Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR), who led the debates in Parliament.

“For the comprehensive approach to work, we need three things: an upstream strategy, defined with all the stakeholders;  coordination, and even a lot of coordination; and of course priorities must be set, because the comprehensive approach should not be a geographical one”, he added.

Stronger EU foreign policy chief and better teamwork needed

The potential of the triple-hatted High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission has yet to be fully used, MEPs say. The EU foreign policy chief should also take the lead in better coordinating the EU’s external action with its internal policies, they add, once again calling for streamlined decision-making within the European External Action Service.

The EU should also act as one vis-à-vis third countries, with member states committing to unified EU action, MEPs say. They regret that autonomous action by member states in third countries, especially in post-conflict and democratising societies, has damaged the EU's goals, interests and international credibility.


Put regional strategies into practice


Parliament also regrets that the EU often does not manage to put its regional strategies into practice, and is instead forced to take contingency and emergency action, as in the case of the Sahel. The EU must learn the lessons of Mali and switch from a “reactive-centric approach” to concrete conflict-prevention initiatives, it adds.

Adequate funding needed

Finally, Parliament criticizes the “lack of ambition” of the EU’s next long-term external action budget and regrets cases in which EU action has been delayed due to funding shortages. The funding mechanism for EU military operations needs to be overhauled, to ensure fairer burden-sharing of costs, it adds.

Procedure:  Non legislative resolution