2/28/2015 0 Comments
It is quite noticeable: this was a speech about European interests being in line with member states interests: "No member state can do it alone." More than a dozen references were made to interests, only a single on to values.
This was also a speech focusing on hard and soft power in the non-military sphere: "Military force is at times necessary, but never sufficient." She does not mention NATO and she does not mention CSDP. Instead she focusses on the importance and impact over time of sanctions. I personally welcome the point made on hope as an element of soft power, essential to understand why the power of attraction of the EU has been larger-than-life in several neighbouring countries.
She rejects the notion of clash of civilisations which she describes as fabricated: "the clash runs within our civilisations not between them". The Arab and Moslem countries are the first targets of terrorism.
The Fortress Europe idea is described as a very naive illusion.
In the question-and-answer session she predictably notes that she had not been able to speak about everything, notably not on Turkey, not on the Balkans. Still the priorities in her speech were clear. The fact that Afghanistan was not mentioned was probably not a coincidence.
The fact that she hardly mentions the defence policy discussion will probably be remedied in later speeches. But it still says something about the profile of the new HR/VP and the way it reflects the mood among EU foreign and possibly also defence ministers. Integrating the common security and defence policy into the CFSP is more difficult than ever over the last decade.
She does refer to a comprehensive approach to foreign policy, but not to the comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises as set out in the joint communication by the HR/VP and the Commission towards the end of 2013. She clearly has embraced the broader approach advocated by some member states moving beyond the situation in the fragile regions of Africa to an emphasis on the wide range of security-related instruments required to deal with the neighbourhood problems.
In so doing, her reference to a number of key community policies such as education and employment indicate a shift from an intergovernmental comprehensive approach to a community-based coherence approach as outlined in not only the Lisbon but also earlier treaties. She may expect some criticism from her Foreign Minister colleagues on this point. Many have asked her to work more closely with the Commission than Ashton did. The proof of the pudding will however be to what extent member states will allow the cooperative framework no agreed in the form of clusters in the Commission to become of real substantive importance.