Rhein on Energy and Climate

The appointment of a new High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, who is also Vice-President of the Commission, is a valuable the major innovation in the future EU institutional setup. But tTo make the best benefit of it fully successful, the EU will have to undertake three major important changes of its present external serviceswill need to take place.

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Here are the major issues on which the High Representative should focus.:

· Strengthening the foreign policy planning and policy process.

Effective day to day foreign policy requires aa long-term policy framework that gives long term guidance as to onthe issues with which the EU will be confronted in a 10-20 year perspective. In the past, the EU has not paid sufficient attention to long term strategic planning. Its foreign policy strategies were too vague to serve as policy guidelines.

· Establishing coherence between foreign, trade and development policies

Foreign policy has to guide trade and development policies, which should be come instrumental for the attainment of foreign policy objectives. This will imply a profound change in the EU culture of external affairs, where such guidancesuch guidance by the foreign policy makers has been largely absent in the past. .

In the future, the three commissioners in charge of external relations need a quasi-permanent coordination on the geographic priorities. the necessary coordination between foreign policy and other policies related to the outside (trade, development, finance, environment, science) should become easier thanks to the dual role of the High Representative and Commission Vice-President.

It will become much easier for the High Representative to assume the leading role in foreign policy thanks to his position as Vice-President of the Commission.

Establishing coherence between member states` and EU foreign policy machineries

This will be the most delicate challenge, on which the effectiveness of EU foreign policy will hinge. It consists of two components: the definition of EU foreign policy at headquarters in Brussels and its implementation in some 190 countries and international organisations.

In Brussels, foreign policy will continue to be shaped mainly at the monthly meetings of foreign ministers and the weekly meetings of EU ambassadors in charge of foreignDefining the role of the EU ambassadors in relation policy. But hopefully, decision taking will become much easier thanks to proposals and policy briefs prepared by the External Action Service and presented by the high Representative, who will chair the meetings in the future and be the undisputed EU foreign policy spokeswoman.

To those of members states iIn third countries, EU ambassadors will in future convey the substance of EU foreign policy decisions to foreign ministers of the host country and replace the previous six-month rotating presidencies. As the “dean” of EU ambassadors he/she will naturally chair the regular coordination meetings and report to headquarters in Brussels.

The role of EU member states` embassies will be twofold: they will actively participate in the process of shaping the common European foreign policy, and represent their specific bilateral interests in the host countries.

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For all this to function harmoniously the EU has to send top personalities as ambassadors, at least in the two dozen of strategic places.

This process of strengthening EU foreign policy will take time. Habits need to change, in European capitals and outside. National and European diplomatic cultures will need to merge, which will be facilitated by the substantial transfer of national diplomats into the EU services.

But it will only happen if member states, especially the big ones, will fully play by the rules and resist the temptations of

The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty will radically change the external representation of the by-passing EU decisions and allowing outside powers to “divide and rule”.

Brussels 23.11.09 Eberhard Rhein

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