The EU needs a truly strategic concept for its external policy in order to punch its weight on the international stage, foreign affairs committee MEPs said on Tuesday. To be effective and consistent, the EU's action in the global arena needs a new, comprehensive approach.
"We live in times of challenges to our security but also opportunities to promote peace and democracy. At the same time we need to focus our efforts and resources. This is why I urge Baroness Ashton and our Member States to be strategic and forward looking", said Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), Chairman of the foreign affairs committee, who steers the debates on the Council's annual report on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
"And in this context the role of the European Parliament is essential: we give voice to the expectations and aspirations of Europe's citizens and at the same time we provide the democratic legitimacy which is needed to launch a bold and engaging European foreign policy. It is now up to Catherine Ashton to show whether she can live up to this challenge - we are ready to support her in this."
The Lisbon treaty has equipped the EU with all the tools needed for a comprehensive approach integrating diplomatic, economic, development and, in the last resort, military resources to address global challenges, MEPs say.
The lack of coherence between the different components of EU foreign policy, as well as the failure to align the Union's personnel, financial and diplomatic resources with its priorities must be addressed in future annual CFSP reports, stresses the committee, which advocates a realistic and pragmatic approach, embodying benchmarks to be monitored, evaluated and developed in subsequent reports.
Concentric circles of peace, security and socio-economic development
The EU's strategic interests and objectives must be based on delivering peace, security and prosperity, starting with its neighbourhood and extending outwards, and guided by the principles that inspired the creation of the EU itself, MEPs say.
They also stress that future choices of strategic partners, for which no clear formula yet exists, must reflect the EU's values and objectives. They underline that a responsible approach to its neighbourhood and respecting its commitments in the framework of enlargement will strengthen the credibility of the Union's global reach..
Democratic scrutiny without losing flexibility
Parliamentary scrutiny of EU foreign policy by Parliament and national parliaments is essential if it is to be understood by EU citizens, MEPs say. They stress, however, that democratic control should not slow down the Union's ability to respond to changing political circumstances on the ground.
The committee asks to be consulted before mandates and strategies in the area of the CFSP are adopted and at every stage of agreements with non-EU countries. Parliament should also have access to political reports from EU delegations to third countries in order to receive full and timely information on the situation on the ground.
Plenary vote in September
The foreign affairs committee adopted Mr Brok's report by 34 votes to 1, with 6 abstentions.
The plenary debate and vote are scheduled for September, in the framework of the regular six-month debate with the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, on the implementation of the CFSP.
In the chair: Andrey Kovatchev (EPP, BG)