August 16, 2010
On 11th June, the EUObserver.com dedicated an article to the new status of the EU at the UN. It seems that the EU, as such, will have the right to make proposals, submit amendments, raise points of order and circulate documents. Of course, seats of France and UK at the Security Council are safe as the EU should seat side by side with the City of Vatican and the International Red Cross.
Indeed this is just the legalization of EU new status, given by the Treaty of Lisbon. However this official presence will not shape EU’s policy. This is to be looked at as a tribune or an additional broking capability, not more. The Common Foreign and Security Policy will further be established in close coordination with the Nations, and if the EU representative acts independently of the Nations’ opinions and simply disregard the opinion of Member States, they will remind him at the next Council who is the boss. The skill level of EU diplomats is such that a mistake like that can be a priori excluded.
Regarding mere Defence, no change is to be expected, as well. The defence forces are still paid by the Nations and the European cost-sharing mechanism (Athena) is so limited that Nations will go on deciding when and when not deploy forces.
Already in the past, co-operation existed between both institutions. EU policies or operations are already largely co-ordinated with the UN. This is all the more critical that some EU countries would never accept an operation, which is not prior approved by the UN, through a resolution.
The influence of the EU at the UN should not therefore be boosted by this new status; consider this status from a pure legal point of view, without a large political added value would be more suitable. Anyway we should not see in this issue a secretly creeping EU, willing to evince France and the UK out of their permanent seats. By the way, an issue remains: how long will both nations be influential enough to keep their international rank?
For the time being, their positions do not seem being in danger: their respective diplomatic network, their influence of former colonial powers, their capability to quickly send highly professional troops all around the world without any restriction, the nuclear capacity, their economic weight, all those marks of power make both countries necessary to balance the security council.
However may be some European countries are tempted to promote the EU at the UN in order to gain an indirect influence they do not have yet. They can, but only if they are as well ready to pay the fee to assume the burden attached to influence, which means becoming a military power, ready to commit troops where nobody else is able to operate, particularly if there is nothing to gain.
Currently very few countries are ready to pay for it.
You will find a short post on the Lisbon Treaty and the solidarity clause under following address:f.