[First Published on Tuesday 18th May 2001]
The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.
An ardent science fiction fan, perhaps Baroness Ashton, the European Union’s new High Representative for Foreign Affairs, would appreciate the words of Mr Spock in Star Trek: “I must acknowledge, once and for all, that the purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis.” Perhaps ‘crisis’ is too strong a word for it, but the EU’s foreign policy appears to be in something of a disarray.
For some years criticism has been levelled at the EU for failing to develop a more effective foreign policy; all too frequently the finger was pointed at the inadequate institutions of the EU. The rotating Presidency of the EU tended to lead to a lack of continuity, whilst the fact that the aims of the EU are blurred – is it an economic union? is it a political and social union? – tended to mean that the European Council and the Council of Ministers together lacked sufficient expertise in EU foreign policy. This was only compounded by the division of labour between the Commission, which was the powerhouse on economic matters, and the Council of Ministers, to whom it fell to sort out diplomatic issues. Not only that, but the political rivalry between the Council and the Commission led to competition rather than cooperation in this most sensitive of areas.
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