Opening up BRIC markets priority for new EU office

By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]

Opening up access to expanding tiger markets Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) should be one of the priorities of the new European External Action Service (EEAS).

The European Union’s foreign affairs body, headed by appointed High Representative Catherine Ashton, should also have, the British Government believes, a global vision, be a pragmatic and prudent body and above all should be able to function in a competent manner.

These were among the British Government views that were expounded on Wednesday last week at a Diplomatic Debate organised by the Commission of Foreign Affairs and Portuguese Communities at the Portuguese Parliament.

In the debate, which was chaired by former CDS party leader and current CDS party MP Dr. José Ribeiro e Castro of the Portuguese Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, guest speaker HMA Alex Ellis outlined the British Government’s views on the EEAS.

It was noted that the European Union and the EEAS could have an important role in resolving international problems but needed to recognise its limits.

The EEAS is a unique European Union department that is being set up following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on December 1 2009.

It will serve as an EU foreign ministry and diplomatic corps and will aim to coordinate an EU common policy on a wide range of international foreign affairs issues including trade and commerce, human rights, anti-terrorism, crisis management and reaction, security and defence policies.

During the debate, the ambassador outlined how the idea for a common foreign policy had been recognised both under the Maastricht and Niece Treaties while the EEAS was first included in the failed EU Constitution when a single EU external relations department was seen as necessary to support the proposed single High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy post.

Formed earlier this year, the EEAS will be based in Brussels, employ 1,100 staff drawn from the Commission and Council and member states’ diplomatic services and have an initial estimated annual budget of 9.5 million Euros.

During the debate, it was stressed that the British Government did not want an isolated and expensive institution that was absent from EU matters. Rather it should be an effective and well-coordinated organisation with a common and global vision, which reduced duplication, waste and costs.

Above all the EEAS should not go further than its stated remit which was essentially to engage with the large economic powers such as China, India, Brazil and the United States, coordinate EU member state policies on defence and other matters such as energy and immigration.

The EEAS should also be able to work effectively with its European neighbours outside of the EU such as Russia, the Ukraine, the Balkan states and Turkey and be effective in regional

crisis management.