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Towards a European Foreign Policy

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The Balkans have been the crucible of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). In the 1990s the appointment of David (Lord) Owen as a strong representative to manage the EU's Bosnian policy, the sidelining of the EU itself by the Contact Group, and American dominance at Dayton (what price 'this is the hour of Europe'?) and over Kosovo were important precursors to the important European Council decisions in June 1999 to appoint a high-profile international statesman as High Representative for the CFSP and to create the EU's own military capability in European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The Constitutional Treaty's further provisions, notably replacing the Presidency in external relations, will be sorely missed and will need to be brought back.ESDP is developing well, if modestly, and making a genuine contribution, mostly with a strong civ-mil component, in several parts of the world. The CFSP itself seems to be managing quite well. But the EU is not yet set up for serious 'events' or crisis management. Experience shows, and greater recognition is needed, that the EU (probably even with an EU Foreign Minister) needs to be represented by member states that carry conviction to outside interlocutors: some member states are inevitably more equal and carry greater weight than others, even if all have an equal voice. Since EU foreign policy is in large measure inescapably a function of US foreign policy, member states need to have a better common understanding among themselves about the nature of the transatlantic relationship. It will take confidence in the efficacy of the CFSP, to which all must give greater priority, before those member states that have alternatives will accept being bound to conducting their foreign policy (or being represented in the UN Security Council) through Brussels. at will take time and effort.


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