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Full text: EU-27 watch Issue 7.2010

EU-27 WATCH No. 7
ISSN 1610-6458 Edited by the Institute for European Politics (IEP), Berlin in collaboration with the Austrian Institute of International Affairs, Vienna Bulgarian European Community Studies Association, Sofia Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University, Ankara Centre européen de Sciences Po, Paris Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman, Luxembourg Centre of International Relations, Ljubljana Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies, Nicosia Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen Elcano Royal Institute and UNED University, Madrid European Institute of Romania, Bucharest Federal Trust for Education and Research, London Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Helsinki Foundation for European Studies - European Institute, Łodz Greek Centre of European Studies and Research, Athens Institute for International Relations, Zagreb Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest Institute for Strategic and International Studies, Lisbon Institute of International and European Affairs, Dublin Institute of International Relations, Prague Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome Latvian Institute of International Affairs, Riga Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’, The Hague Slovak Foreign Policy Association, Bratislava Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA), Brussels University of Tartu Issued in September 2008

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EU-27 Watch
On the Project The enlarged EU of 27 members is in a process of reshaping its constitutional and political order, of continuing membership talks with candidate countries and taking on new obligations in international politics. This project sheds light on key issues and challenges of European integration. Institutes from all 27 EU member states as well as from Croatia and Turkey participate in the project. The aim is to give a full comparative picture of debates on European integration and current developments in European politics in each of these countries. This survey was conducted on the basis of a questionnaire that has been elaborated in May 2008 by all participating institutes. Most of the 29 reports were delivered in July 2008. This issue and all previous issues of EU-27 Watch (formerly EU-25/27 Watch) are available on the homepage of EU-CONSENT (www.eu-consent.net) and on the internet sites of most of the contributing institutes. Please note the detailed table of content that allows readers to easily grasp key information and headlines of the country reports. The Institute for European Politics (IEP) in Berlin coordinates and edits EU-27 Watch. The IEP is grateful to the Otto Wolff-Foundation, Cologne, for supporting its research activities in the field of “Enlargement and neighbourhood policy of the EU”. Contact persons at the IEP are Barbara Lippert (barbara.lippert@iep-berlin.de) and Tanja Leppik-Bork (tanja.leppik@iep-berlin.de). Institutes/authors are responsible for the content of their country reports. Recommended citation form: Institut für Europäische Politik (Ed.): EU-27 Watch, No. 7, September 2008, Berlin, available at: http://www.eu-consent.net/content.asp?contentid=522.

EU-27 Watch is part of EU-CONSENT, a network of excellence for joint research and teaching comprising more than 50 research institutes that addresses questions of the mutual reinforcing effects of deepening and widening of the EU. EU-CONSENT is supported by the European Union’s 6th Framework Programme.

EU-27 Watch | Table of Content

Table of Content

On the Project ........................................................................................................................................ 2 Table of Content .................................................................................................................................... 3 List of Authors ..................................................................................................................................... 12 With or without the Lisbon Treaty – member states watch out...................................................... 13 Repercussions of the Irish ‘No’ .......................................................................................................... 13 The question of European citizens .................................................................................................... 13 Concentric circles inside and/or around the EU? .............................................................................. 14 More political leadership – a solution?............................................................................................... 14 ‘Europe of projects’? – a solution?..................................................................................................... 15 Outlook............................................................................................................................................... 15 Lisbon Treaty: State of the ratification ............................................................................................... 16 The EU after the Irish referendum ..................................................................................................... 20 Austria (Austrian Institute of International Affairs) Europe of ‘different speeds’ no solution......................................................................................... 21 Belgium (Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles) Diverse reactions – ratification process should be continued........................................................ 21 Bulgaria (Bulgarian European Community Studies Association) Bulgaria regards the Irish ‘No’ as a threat to national interests ..................................................... 23 Croatia (Institute for International Relations) Political leaders and analysts express hopes that the EU will carry on with the ratification process ........................................................................................................................................................ 25 Cyprus (Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies) Parliament ratified treaty – major governing party opposed .......................................................... 27 Czech Republic (Institute of International Relations) Mixed reactions to the Irish ‘No’ ..................................................................................................... 30 Denmark (Danish Institute for International Studies) The Irish ‘No’: impact on the Danish opt-outs ................................................................................ 31 Estonia (University of Tartu) Proceed with ratification, continue enlargement ............................................................................ 32 Finland (EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs) Near media silence on the issue .................................................................................................... 33 France (Centre européen de Sciences Po) Setback before the French Presidency.......................................................................................... 34 Germany (Institute for European Politics) Pressing on with ratification: The German reaction to the Irish ‘No’ .............................................. 36 Greece (Greek Centre of European Studies and Research) Irish ‘No’ ignited political and public debate ................................................................................... 39 Hungary (Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) Importance of continuing ratification process................................................................................. 39 Ireland (Institute of International and European Affairs) The Lisbon Treaty referendum dominates the agenda .................................................................. 40 Italy (Istituto Affari Internazionali) Strong will to continue the European integration process.............................................................. 40 Latvia (Latvian Institute of International Affairs) The EU after the Irish referendum: Reactions in Latvia ................................................................. 43 Lithuania (Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University) The results of the Irish referendum – an unpleasant surprise for some Lithuanian politicians...... 44 Luxembourg (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman) Ratification process should be continued ...................................................................................... 46

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Malta (Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta) Ratification process should proceed .............................................................................................. 48 Netherlands (Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’) ‘Parliamentary ratification should continue’.................................................................................... 49 Poland (Foundation for European Studies - European Institute) Government and President: divergent viewpoints about Lisbon Treaty ........................................ 50 Portugal (Institute for Strategic and International Studies) Dropping the Lisbon Treaty or making efforts to save it? .............................................................. 53 Romania (European Institute of Romania) Wide span of “judgments”, absence of official views on mending ways ........................................ 55 Slovakia (Slovak Foreign Policy Association) EU still focused on institutional issues ........................................................................................... 58 Slovenia (Centre of International Relations) No stalemate over Enlargement..................................................................................................... 58 Spain (Elcano Royal Institute) After the Irish referendum .............................................................................................................. 59 Sweden (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) Ratification process continued, opposition divided ........................................................................ 61 Turkey (Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University) Does the Irish ‘No’ affect the accession process? ......................................................................... 62 United Kingdom (Federal Trust for Education and Research) Disagreement over reasons for Irish rejection and over a British referendum .............................. 63 French Presidency and the future of the EU .................................................................................... 66 Austria (Austrian Institute of International Affairs) Low expectations for the French EU Presidency ........................................................................... 67 Belgium (Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles) French Presidency well perceived ................................................................................................. 67 Bulgaria (Bulgarian European Community Studies Association) Special relations with the presiding member state......................................................................... 70 Croatia (Institute for International Relations) Croatia expects to speed up negotiations on the EU membership during the French Presidency 73 Cyprus (Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies) The Cyprus Problem – high expectations of French Presidency................................................... 74 Czech Republic (Institute of International Relations) French priorities: arousing some suspicion, but still leaving room for cooperation – especially in energy policy .................................................................................................................................. 76 Denmark (Danish Institute for International Studies) French Presidency agenda regarded as ambitious ....................................................................... 80 Estonia (University of Tartu) More Europe is fine but keep our interests in mind........................................................................ 81 Finland (EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs) Finnish perspective on the French Presidency priorities ............................................................... 83 France (Centre européen de Sciences Po) French Priorities: a forgotten social agenda .................................................................................. 84 Germany (Institute for European Politics) The German debate about the French EU-Presidency priorities................................................... 85 Greece (Greek Centre of European Studies and Research) French Presidency priorities correspond closely to Greek ones.................................................... 94 Hungary (Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) Hungary appreciates French Presidency priorities ........................................................................ 95 Ireland (Institute of International and European Affairs) No severe concerns regarding the presidency’s agenda............................................................... 97

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Italy (Istituto Affari Internazionali) France a key country for the EU .................................................................................................. 100 Latvia (Latvian Institute of International Affairs) Latvia’s views on the French presidency’s priorities for the European Union and the future of the EU ................................................................................................................................................ 102 Lithuania (Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University) French presidency – the best time to talk about Lithuanian energy security............................... 105 Luxembourg (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman) French priorities tackle some of the ‘real problems’ of European people .................................... 106 Malta (Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta) Most important topics illegal immigration and the Mediterranean region..................................... 109 Netherlands (Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’) Support for French Presidency agenda ....................................................................................... 111 Poland (Foundation for European Studies - European Institute) Most French priorities meet Polish interests ................................................................................ 112 Portugal (Institute for Strategic and International Studies) “France can count on Portuguese support. We share its priorities.”............................................ 114 Romania (European Institute of Romania) Some converging and some diverging interests .......................................................................... 116 Slovakia (Slovak Foreign Policy Association) No real discussion about priorities of French EU-Presidency...................................................... 120 Slovenia (Centre of International Relations) Keeping the momentum for the Western Balkan ......................................................................... 121 Spain (Elcano Royal Institute) French EU-Presidency: positive expectation ............................................................................... 122 Sweden (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) France and Sweden work closely together, while disagreeing on certain topics......................... 124 Turkey (Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University) Union for the Mediterranean perceived as an obstacle to accession .......................................... 125 United Kingdom (Federal Trust for Education and Research) Policy on climate change favoured, while opposing CAP............................................................ 126 Public opinion and European integration ....................................................................................... 127 Austria (Austrian Institute of International Affairs) Support for EU reached a new low .............................................................................................. 128 Belgium (Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles) Belgians more favourable to EU than EU-average ...................................................................... 129 Bulgaria (Bulgarian European Community Studies Association) People detect EU’s influence on everyday life............................................................................. 130 Croatia (Institute for International Relations) Euroscepticism on rise in Croatia................................................................................................. 132 Cyprus (Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies) EU support recovered in early 2008 ............................................................................................ 133 Czech Republic (Institute of International Relations) Declining support for the EU ........................................................................................................ 134 Denmark (Danish Institute for International Studies) Focus on Danish opt-outs ............................................................................................................ 135 Estonia (University of Tartu) At difficult times, growing loyalty towards Europe........................................................................ 135 Finland (EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs) The amount of EU opponents at its peak..................................................................................... 136 France (Centre européen de Sciences Po) A balanced support for the EU ..................................................................................................... 137

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Germany (Institute for European Politics) Permissive indifference in Germany ............................................................................................ 138 Greece (Greek Centre of European Studies and Research) Greeks generally support European integration .......................................................................... 140 Hungary (Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) Positive perception of EU membership rather low ....................................................................... 140 Ireland (Institute of International and European Affairs) Paradoxical support: pro-Europeans stop the Reform Treaty ..................................................... 141 Italy (Istituto Affari Internazionali) The EU – a ‘team of sick players’................................................................................................. 142 Latvia (Latvian Institute of International Affairs) Public opinion and European integration in Latvia....................................................................... 144 Lithuania (Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University) A big and stable support for the membership in the EU .............................................................. 144 Luxembourg (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman) Importance of a united Europe in a globalised world ................................................................... 145 Malta (Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta) EU membership is regarded as positive ...................................................................................... 146 Netherlands (Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’) EU: Large support, mediocre knowledge..................................................................................... 146 Poland (Foundation for European Studies - European Institute) European benefits assure high levels of EU-support................................................................... 147 Portugal (Institute for Strategic and International Studies) Traditional political alignments ..................................................................................................... 150 Romania (European Institute of Romania) Still very enthusiastic about EU membership............................................................................... 150 Slovakia (Slovak Foreign Policy Association) Positive view of EU-membership ................................................................................................. 152 Slovenia (Centre of International Relations) Stable support – apathy dominates over genuine interest........................................................... 153 Spain (Elcano Royal Institute) Public opinion in Spain................................................................................................................. 156 Sweden (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) Increased support for the EU in Sweden ..................................................................................... 157 Turkey (Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University) EU: a successful economic structure threatens national sovereignty.......................................... 157 United Kingdom (Federal Trust for Education and Research) British EU-enthusiasm on its lowest level since 1983.................................................................. 159 Political leadership in the EU ........................................................................................................... 161 Austria (Austrian Institute of International Affairs) Schüssel President of the European Council?............................................................................. 162 Belgium (Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles) Defining profiles before discussing personalities ......................................................................... 162 Bulgaria (Bulgarian European Community Studies Association) Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha not nominated as ‘President’ ......................................................... 162 Croatia (Institute for International Relations) EU political leadership crucial ...................................................................................................... 163 Cyprus (Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies) Balancing between small and large members ............................................................................. 164 Czech Republic (Institute of International Relations) The President of the European Council as a moderator.............................................................. 165 Denmark (Danish Institute for International Studies)

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Rasmussen for President?........................................................................................................... 166 Estonia (University of Tartu) Too early to talk about names...................................................................................................... 167 Finland (EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs) Key roles of the institutions to be specified before the treaty comes into force........................... 167 France (Centre européen de Sciences Po) Choice of political figures dominates the debate on institutional reforms .................................... 168 Germany (Institute for European Politics) Political leadership not widely discussed in Germany ................................................................. 169 Greece (Greek Centre of European Studies and Research) Greeks deplore lack of ‘European leadership’ ............................................................................. 170 Hungary (Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) Core groups shall improve efficiency ........................................................................................... 171 Ireland (Institute of International and European Affairs) Leadership debate is victim of the referendum campaign ........................................................... 171 Italy (Istituto Affari Internazionali) “Leadership has become a scarce resource in Europe” .............................................................. 172 Latvia (Latvian Institute of International Affairs) Political leadership – issue of low salience .................................................................................. 173 Lithuania (Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University) Germany and France take the lead.............................................................................................. 173 Luxembourg (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman) Speculations about Juncker’s future plans .................................................................................. 174 Malta (Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta) EU lacks leadership, but no easy solutions to this....................................................................... 175 Netherlands (Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’) The Hague fears an empowered European Council.................................................................... 175 Poland (Foundation for European Studies - European Institute) Polish government wants to play a leading role........................................................................... 176 Portugal (Institute for Strategic and International Studies) Leadership in the EU must be consensus building ...................................................................... 176 Romania (European Institute of Romania) Romania does not staff many leading positions in the EU .......................................................... 178 Slovakia (Slovak Foreign Policy Association) Domestic challenges of leadership in EU affairs.......................................................................... 178 Slovenia (Centre of International Relations) Honest broker and defender of equality....................................................................................... 179 Spain (Elcano Royal Institute) Three main concerns in Spain about future of political leadership .............................................. 180 Sweden (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) EU needs no directorate but cohesion......................................................................................... 180 Turkey (Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University) Accession process might benefit from strong leadership ............................................................ 181 United Kingdom (Federal Trust for Education and Research) Tony Blair as a European leader?................................................................................................ 181 Concentric circles around the EU? ................................................................................................. 182 Austria (Austrian Institute of International Affairs) ‘Privileged Partnership’ for Turkey ............................................................................................... 183 Belgium (Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles) No real debate.............................................................................................................................. 183 Bulgaria (Bulgarian European Community Studies Association) Debating flexible cooperation ‘outside’ instead of ‘inside’ the EU................................................ 183

EU-27 Watch | Table of Content

Croatia (Institute for International Relations) Inner circle matters, outer matters less ........................................................................................ 184 Cyprus (Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies) Alternatives to membership not widely discussed ....................................................................... 186 Czech Republic (Institute of International Relations) Proposal not clear enough – it will be judged according to impact on EU enlargement.............. 187 Denmark (Danish Institute for International Studies) Target and adapt ENP to different countries and regions............................................................ 188 Estonia (University of Tartu) Closer cooperation with the able and willing................................................................................ 188 Finland (EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs) Equal acknowledgement .............................................................................................................. 189 France (Centre européen de Sciences Po) Focus remains on the Mediterranean circle................................................................................. 190 Germany (Institute for European Politics) Few reactions – no new alternatives............................................................................................ 191 Greece (Greek Centre of European Studies and Research) Strong interest in ‘enlargement-minus’ relations.......................................................................... 193 Hungary (Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) Supportive of European Neighbourhood Policy with a stronger Eastern dimension ................... 194 Italy (Istituto Affari Internazionali) Focus on Mediterranean region ................................................................................................... 194 Latvia (Latvian Institute of International Affairs) Concentric Circles around the EU? The View from Latvia........................................................... 196 Lithuania (Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University) No artificial impediments for the further enlargement .................................................................. 197 Luxembourg (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman) Widening and deepening parallel processes ............................................................................... 198 Malta (Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta) The EU-Arab League forum ......................................................................................................... 198 Netherlands (Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’) Towards a “partenariat”................................................................................................................ 200 Poland (Foundation for European Studies - European Institute) Polish MEPs keep EU’s entrance door open ............................................................................... 201 Portugal (Institute for Strategic and International Studies) Great interest in Mediterranean neighbours ................................................................................ 202 Romania (European Institute of Romania) Possible alternatives to ‘classical’ bilateral arrangements: ‘thematic cooperation’, “networks of regional arrangements around the EU“........................................................................................ 203 Slovakia (Slovak Foreign Policy Association) Principle of gradual deepening and widening .............................................................................. 205 Slovenia (Centre of International Relations) EU doors need to remain open .................................................................................................... 205 Spain (Elcano Royal Institute) Lack of debate.............................................................................................................................. 206 Sweden (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) Enlargement should not stop at the Western Balkans ................................................................. 206 Turkey (Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University) Any alternative to membership unwelcome ................................................................................. 207 United Kingdom (Federal Trust for Education and Research) Eastern Europe is far away from London..................................................................................... 207 The first ten years of the Euro ......................................................................................................... 208

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Austria (Austrian Institute of International Affairs) Rise of prices for daily life items................................................................................................... 209 Belgium (Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles) Strong support for Euro – main concern inflation......................................................................... 209 Bulgaria (Bulgarian European Community Studies Association) Date of introduction in 2009 or 2010 likely to be rescheduled ..................................................... 211 Croatia (Institute for International Relations) Confidence in Euro still strong in Croatia..................................................................................... 213 Cyprus (Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies) Introduction accomplished ........................................................................................................... 216 Czech Republic (Institute of International Relations) The Czech Republic is not rushing for the Euro .......................................................................... 217 Denmark (Danish Institute for International Studies) Euro@10 ...................................................................................................................................... 218 Estonia (University of Tartu) High inflation is the only obstacle to joining the eurozone ........................................................... 220 Finland (EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs) Positive reception of the single currency ..................................................................................... 220 France (Centre européen de Sciences Po) Challenging the independence of the ECB in the context of economic crisis.............................. 221 Germany (Institute for European Politics) The debate calmed down............................................................................................................. 223 Greece (Greek Centre of European Studies and Research) Implications of Euro assessed differently..................................................................................... 229 Hungary (Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) Hungary does not yet meet the Maastricht criteria ...................................................................... 230 Ireland (Institute of International and European Affairs) Irish experiences with the Euro .................................................................................................... 231 Italy (Istituto Affari Internazionali) “Euro remains unloved by most citizens” ..................................................................................... 232 Latvia (Latvian Institute of International Affairs) The First Ten Years of the Euro and Latvia ................................................................................. 234 Lithuania (Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University) Failed attempts to adopt Euro in 2007 ......................................................................................... 235 Luxembourg (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman) Luxemburg gained political and economic independence with the Euro ..................................... 236 Malta (Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta) A ‘young’ member of the eurozone .............................................................................................. 238 Netherlands (Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’) Discussion on Euro inflation influenced 2005 referendum........................................................... 239 Poland (Foundation for European Studies - European Institute) Date of introduction not yet scheduled......................................................................................... 239 Portugal (Institute for Strategic and International Studies) Euro accepted as given so far...................................................................................................... 241 Romania (European Institute of Romania) No discussion so far about pros and cons of the Euro ................................................................ 241 Slovakia (Slovak Foreign Policy Association) Entering the eurozone.................................................................................................................. 243 Slovenia (Centre of International Relations) Overwhelmingly positive attitude, but ‘prices have risen because of Euro’ ................................. 245 Spain (Elcano Royal Institute) The experience with the Euro ...................................................................................................... 249

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Sweden (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) People have to feel comfortable with the Euro and that needs time............................................ 250 Turkey (Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University) Introduction of the well perceived currency has to wait ............................................................... 251 United Kingdom (Federal Trust for Education and Research) Slowing British economy makes the Euro more popular ............................................................. 252 Current issues and discourses in your country ............................................................................ 253 Austria (Austrian Institute of International Affairs) Government crisis ........................................................................................................................ 254 Belgium (Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles) Composition of the European Council ......................................................................................... 254 Bulgaria (Bulgarian European Community Studies Association) Bulgarian government still struggling with internal reforms ......................................................... 255 Croatia (Institute for International Relations) High prices, progress of accession negotiations, and judiciary reform........................................ 256 Cyprus (Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies) Crisis management in agriculture and Turkish-Cyprus relations ................................................. 258 Czech Republic (Institute of International Relations) The debate about the US radar base is culminating.................................................................... 259 Denmark (Danish Institute for International Studies) Strike in public sector, cartoon crisis, and opt-out investigation .................................................. 261 Estonia (University of Tartu) A cooling economy, continued tensions with Russia ................................................................... 261 Finland (EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs) A new Foreign Minister and the changing status of the President of the Republic ..................... 262 France (Centre européen de Sciences Po) Stormy debates on EU external relations .................................................................................... 263 Germany (Institute for European Politics) Elections, elections, elections ...................................................................................................... 265 Greece (Greek Centre of European Studies and Research) Pessimistic discourses ................................................................................................................. 265 Hungary (Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) Political and economic problems / seat for new European Technology Institute......................... 265 Ireland (Institute of International and European Affairs) The Lisbon Treaty referendum dominates the agenda ................................................................ 266 Italy (Istituto Affari Internazionali) Immigration, immunity, and the ‘garbage question’ ..................................................................... 266 Latvia (Latvian Institute of International Affairs) Current Concerns of the Population of Latvia .............................................................................. 267 Lithuania (Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University) Unsatisfying mandate for the negotiations with Russia ............................................................... 268 Luxembourg (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman) Current domestic issues in Luxemburg: double nationality, security and euthanasia ................. 269 Malta (Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta) Mixed agenda in Malta ................................................................................................................. 271 Netherlands (Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’) Discussion on pre-membership deal with Serbia......................................................................... 272 Poland (Foundation for European Studies - European Institute) Most discussed issues ................................................................................................................. 272 Slovakia (Slovak Foreign Policy Association) Current issues in Slovakia............................................................................................................ 281 Slovenia (Centre of International Relations)

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Elections, inflation and relations to Croatia.................................................................................. 282 Spain (Elcano Royal Institute) The EU returns directive: controversial issue in domestic and foreign policy.............................. 286 Sweden (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) Nordic defence co-operation and anti-terror legislation ............................................................... 287 Turkey (Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University) Court rulings dominate the national agenda ................................................................................ 287 United Kingdom (Federal Trust for Education and Research) Immigration from Eastern Europe and a future Conservative government.................................. 289 Chronology of Main Events .............................................................................................................. 291 Presentation of EU-CONSENT.......................................................................................................... 293

EU-27 Watch | List of Authors

List of Authors
Contributors to this issue: Austria: Nieves-Erzsebet Kautny, Austrian Institute of International Affairs, Vienna Belgium: Nathalie Brack, Régis Dandoy, Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles Bulgaria: Ivan Stoyanov, Vladimir Shopov, Elisabeth Yoneva, Boris Kostov, Krassimir Y. Nikolov, Bulgarian European Community Studies Association, Sofia ∗ Croatia: Ana-Maria Boromisa, Nevenka Čučković, Visnja Samardžija, Mladen Staničić and Valentina Vučković, Institute for International Relations, Zagreb Cyprus: Andreas Antoniou, Nicoleta Athanasiadou, Costas Melakopides, Kostas Sasmatzoglou, Christos Xenophontos, Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies, Nicosia Czech Republic: Mats Braun and Vít Beneš, Institute of International Relations, Prague Denmark: Maja Kluger Rasmussen, Jesper Kelstrup, Danish Institut for International Studies, Copenhagen Estonia: Piret Ehin, University of Tartu Finland: Pia Alilonttinen, Toby Archer, Hiski Haukkala, Tanja Tamminen, Hanna Ojanen, EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Helsinki France: Beatrix Boonekamp, Aurélien Evrard, Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po, Paris Germany: Gesa-Stefanie Brincker, Severin Fischer, Jaren Kuchta, Ruth Langer, Tanja Leppik-Bork, Barbara Lippert, Julian Plottka, Elfriede Regelsberger, Thomas Schüler, Jonas Teusch, Institute for European Politics, Berlin Greece: A.D. Papayannides and Nikos Frangakis, Greek Centre for European Studies and Research, Athens Hungary: Krisztina Vida, Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest Ireland: Tim Bourke, Peadar ó Broin, Jill Donoghue, Stephen Douglas, Jill Farrelly, Tom Lynch, Institute of International and European Affairs, Dublin Italy: Michele Comelli, Nicoletta Pirozzi, Maria Luisa Pozone, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome Latvia: Dzintra Bungs, Latvian Institute of International Affairs, Riga Lithuania: Jurga Valančiūtė, Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University Luxembourg: Jean-Marie Majerus, Centre d’Études et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman, Luxembourg Malta: Stephen C. Calleya, Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta Netherlands: Mendeltje van Keulen, Rob Boudewijn, Jurriaan Middelhoff, Alfred Pijpers, Jan Rood, Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’, The Hague Poland: Celina Blaszczyk, Anna Jedrzejewska, Maria Karasinska-Fendler (co-ordinator), Anastazja Pilichowska, Kazimierz Sobotka, Rafal Trzaskowski, Mariusz Wypych, Rafal Zdrajkowski, Foundation for European Studies - European Institute, Łodz Portugal: Bruno C. Reis, Mónica S Silva, Institute for Strategic and International Studies, Lisbon Romania: Gilda Truica, European Institute of Romania, Bucharest Slovakia: Vladimír Bilčík, Zuzana Lisonova, Slovak Foreign Policy Association, Bratislava Slovenia: Ana Bojinović, Sabina Kajnč, Samo Novak, Gregor Ramuš, Centre of International Relations, University of Ljubljana Spain: Ignacio Molina, Alicia Sorroza, Elcano Royal Institute, Madrid Sweden: Gunilla Herolf, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Turkey: Sait Aksit, Ayse Idil Aybars, Tolga Bolukbasi, Ozgehan Senyuva, Cigdem Ustun, Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University, Ankara United Kingdom: Jonathan Church, Federal Trust for Education and Research, London

∗

Corrigendum: The Bulgarian contribution on the EU budget review in EU-27 Watch No. 6 was written by Kaloyan Simeonov.

EU-27 Watch | Introduction

With or without the Lisbon Treaty – member states watch out
Barbara Lippert/Tanja Leppik-Bork Repercussions of the Irish ‘No’ The Irish referendum of June 2008 gave a blow to all expectations that the ten years’ process of reforming the treaty basis of the European Union will be settled with the Lisbon Treaty entering into force by the end of 2008. The Irish writer John Banville quoted the poem of his compatriot William Butler Yeats „The Second Coming“ (1929) evoking a desperate scene: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/are full of passionate intensity“. 1 In the majority of EU member states the immediate reactions were disappointment and sometimes anger, but not despair. EU and EU governments are trained in suboptimal solutions and recalled that the Lisbon Treaty is already a ‘plan B’ to mend the failure of the Constitutional Treaty. So repairing the damage was less frightening this time. Routine solutions like amendments (protocols, declarations of different legal nature), a second Irish referendum or opt-outs for Ireland were proposed and discussed in the member states. The strong consensus that this time ratification shall continue full speed irrespective of the Irish ‘No’ marks a significant difference to the ratification crisis of 2005 (see “State of the ratification” below). More radical proposals were to exclude or expel Ireland from the EU, 2 while others felt that Ireland needs solidarity and much time till it can get around the problems. 3 Thinking ahead, some experts already explore how to „live with Nice“ and remain confident of an ongoing integration process without the Lisbon Treaty. 4 In the member states, different implications of the ‘No’ for the future of Europe are discussed. Understandably, Croatia and Turkey fear to become victims of the current deadlock. In Germany Chancellor Merkel saw a dim future for enlargement, and in France President Sarkozy underlined that “to be able to open to the Balkans, to Croatia, we need the Lisbon Treaty. If we want the enlargement, and we want the enlargement, we need new institutions”. 5 At the same time others, like Slovenian analysts, regarded “the ‘panic’ which has arisen among the neighbouring Balkan states after the Irish ‘No’ as unnecessary”. 6 Others referred to the institutional uncertainties of the year 2009 (e.g. the organization of the European Parliament elections and the allocation of seats per member state; the size/composition of the next Commission; or the posts of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the European Council) that cannot be addressed as long as the Lisbon Treaty is in limbo. 7 As the British newspaper “Guardian” put it: “the prospects of creating a Europe with a strong voice and distinct leadership are darker this morning than they were yesterday”. 8

The question of European citizens Many believe that referenda are in principle a mistake or even madness as part of the procedure to ratify international treaties. For example, some Estonian columnists pointed out that “referendum votes on such treaties resemble attempts to ‘repair a watch with a blacksmith’s hammer’”. 9 The communication gap and distance between the political elites and the citizens on ‘Brussels’ has turned into a permanent problem. The genie of ‘the citizens’, hence the genie of democracy is out of the bottle. New players like Attac, „full of passionate intensity“, are active in the domestic debates and

John Banville: Das Nein. Irland und die Europäische Union, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19 June 2008. Some Austrian media, for example, made the proposal to exclude Ireland, while some Bulgarian media regarded Ireland as a ‘spoiler’. Cf. the Austrian and the Bulgarian chapters on the EU after the Irish referendum (chapter 1). 3 Cf., for instance, the British, Hungarian, and Polish chapters on the EU after the Irish referendum (chapter 1). 4 See, for example, Wolfgang Wessels: Die Debatte nach ‚Irland’: Festhalten an Lissabon, Aufbruch zu Alternativen oder doch Leben mit Nizza?, in: integration 3/2008, p. 312-318. 5 The quotation is taken from the French chapter on the EU after the Irish referendum (chapter 1). 6 Slovenian chapter on the EU after the Irish referendum (chapter 1). 7 Mentioned, for instance, in the French, Lithuanian or Maltese chapters on the EU after the Irish referendum (chapter 1). 8 The quotation is taken from the British chapter on the EU after the Irish referendum (chapter 1). 9 Estonian chapter on the EU after the Irish referendum (chapter 1).
2

1

EU-27 Watch | Introduction

campaign for a „more democratic and a more ‘popular’ EU“. 10 The mainstream pro-EU parties lose out against right- and left-wing sceptics and opponents. Interestingly, anti-EU and populist tendencies in general seem not in sync with the positive trends in public support for EU integration, in old (for example in Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands) and new (for example in Poland, Romania) member states. In Estonia fear of Russia triggers high levels of support, while in France and Luxembourg the idea of the EU as a protector against the storms of globalisation is a source of support. Opposite trends are reported of in Austria, Finland, Hungary, Italy and the UK. 11 The reports offer different explanations for the low level of support: for example, in Hungary the low level of support is explained by a lack of information and the fact that “living standards in Hungary have hardly improved” 12 during the last four years, while the low level of support in Austria is seen as a sign of a “very deep-rooted scepticism of the Austrian population towards the European Union”. 13 It will be important to see (for example in connection with the European Parliament elections June 2009) whether EU citizens can develop stable attitudes towards the EU or behave volatile. In old and new member states economic success breeds a more positive view of the EU. For example in Lithuania, at the time of accession farmers had been “more sceptical about membership than other groups of society”, while today “having profited from the EU financial support”, they are “one of the biggest supporters of the EU”. 14 The more educated, wealthy, affluent or young, the stronger the support; the poorer, older or less educated, the lower the support for the EU. 15 Across the EU (across old and new member states) business is pro EU integration and benefits from the EU membership of the respective country.

Concentric circles inside and/or around the EU? The Irish ‘No’ also triggers fears or hopes in member states with regard to a two-speed EU, a EU of internal concentric circles inside its boundaries and treaties, or a building of core group(s). However, the debate lacks original thinking and precise proposals and plans. The shock of the stagnating ratification process was apparently not severe enough to bring about a political movement and momentum for a fundamental change and break with path dependencies. Almost the same is true when it comes to alternatives to membership, a ring of concentric circles around the EU. Proposals like “European Commonwealth”, “European Economic Area Plus (EEA +)” 16 apparently do not ignite passionate thinking and arguing. Thus, the Brok report found little resonance in member states beyond expert circles. European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the hybrid and not well-loved new policy of the EU towards its neighbours in the East and South, will probably also survive because the EU lacks a consolidated strategic vision of how to deal with the neighbours. While some member states like Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, or Lithuania insist that there shall be no alternative to membership or that the EU “doors need to remain open”; 17 others speculate vaguely about privileged partnership and about special status or relations of the EU with neighbouring third countries. However, the country reports of this issue had been finalised before the Georgia-Russia crisis reminded the EU of the lingering unresolved conflicts and brought new strains in relations with Russia.

More political leadership – a solution? Unsurprisingly there is a demand for more leadership in the EU-27: for example, the Cypriot report underlines that “the advanced economic integration within Europe and the global economic and
Austrian chapter on the EU after the Irish referendum (chapter 1). See the respective country chapters on Public opinion and European integration (chapter 3). Hungarian chapter on Public opinion and European integration (chapter 3). 13 Austrian chapter on Public opinion and European integration (chapter 3). 14 Lithuanian chapter on Public opinion and European integration (chapter 3). 15 See Polish chapter on Public opinion and European integration (chapter 3). 16 Elmar Brok, rapporteur of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament: Report on the Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper (2007/2271(INI)), Doc. A6-0266/2008, 26 June 2008, available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+REPORT+A6-2008-0266+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN (last access: 26 September 2008). 17 Slovenian chapter on Concentric circles around the EU? (chapter 5).
11 12 10

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security challenges do require effective common policy responses”; 18 and Greek media “deplore the lack of ’European leadership’, comparing the present to the Delors/Mitterrand/Kohl era, or even to the Chirac/Schroeder/Blair years”. 19 Views how better leadership can be achieved depend on the outlook of small or bigger, new or old or well-established member states. Particularly small (e.g. Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden) and new (e.g. Cyprus, Czech Republic) member states fear that their voice will not be heard, that they will not be duly represented in new institutions like the European External Action Service or in the new tableau of top positions, namely the High Representative, the President of the European Council, and the President of the Commission. The issue of a possible new institutional balance in the EU has not been a highly salient one, since the Irish ‘No’ had put the Lisbon Treaty in a limbo. 20 Yet, it can be assumed that many of the players remain conscious of the importance of this settlement and play their cards close.

‘Europe of projects’? – a solution? And yet, it looks as if policies rather than institutions will shape consensus and form a centre that can hold. This is one of the beliefs of the ‘Europe of projects’. 21 The work programme of the French EUPresidency, named “Europe Taking Action to Meet Today’s Challenges” seems to echo such an approach. 22 The soon ten-year-old Euro, the common currency of the EU, does not appear to contribute significantly to the development of a common identity as some had hoped it would. Economic tensions in an ever-wider EU that is strongly integrated into the global finance system cause concern in many member states. Therefore, the tenth anniversary of the Euro on 1 January 2009 will probably be accompanied by mixed comments on its successes and superseded by pressing concerns over high prices and inflation in nearly all member states.

Outlook Reading and dipping into the country reports of this new edition of the survey EU-27 Watch (No. 7) is reassuring in the sense that the EU is robust even when the tides of European integration sweep away some of the castles built on too high expectations.

Cypriot chapter on Political leadership in the EU (chapter 4). Greek chapter on Political leadership in the EU (chapter 4). Cf. the Dutch and Latvian chapters on Political leadership in the EU (chapter 4). 21 For this concept see, for example, Wolfgang Wessels/Anne Faber: Vom Verfassungskonvent zurück zur ‘Methode Monnet’? Die Entstehung der ‚Road map’ zum EU-Reformvertrag unter deutscher Ratspräsidentschaft, in: integration 4/2007, p. 370-381. 22 French Presidency of the Council of the European Union: Europe Taking Action to Meet Today’s Challenges, Work Programme, 1 July – 31 December 2008, available at: http://www.ue2008.fr/webdav/site/PFUE/shared/ProgrammePFUE/Programme_EN.pdf (last access: 26 September 2008).
19 20

18

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Lisbon Treaty: State of the ratification
Country Ratification completed Date/ Chamber Result

Ratification not yet completed
1 April 2008 Bill passed Poslanecká snemovna Senát Open The “Senát” will wait with its decision until the constitutional court has ruled about unconstitutionality of the treaty. The “Senát” itself appealed to the court. 48 senators voted for, four voted against appealing to the court. 18 abstained from voting, while 11 senators did not attend the parliamentary session. 24 April 2008 Yes-votes 515 Bundestag No-votes 58 Open Germany Abstentions 1 23 May 2008 Bill passed with 2/3 majority Bundesrat The Federal President, Köhler, refused to sign the ratification bill until the constitutional court has ruled about two constitutional challenges against the ratification law. A Conservative MP, Peter Gauweiler, from the CSU and the parliamentary faction of the Left Party (“Die Linke”) both appealed to the constitutional court. 1 April Yes-votes 384 Sjem No-votes 56 Abstentions 12 Open Poland Yes-votes 74 2 April Senat No-votes 17 Abstentions 6 The President of the Republic of Poland, Kaczyński, has not yet signed the ratification bill. Riksdag Open Open Sweden

Czech Rep.

Open

Government is aiming for a decision on 20 November 2008.

Ratification before Irish referendum
9 April Nationalrat 24 April Bundesrat 21 March Narodno sabranie 24 April Folketing 11 June Riigikogu 11 June Eduskunta/Riksdag 7 February Assemblée Nationale Yes-votes No-votes Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions 151 27 195 15 30 90 25 64 91 1 9 151 27 21 336 52 22 265 42 13 250 42 8

Austria

Yes

Bill passed with 2/3 majority

Bulgaria Denmark Estonia Finland

Yes

Yes Yes

Yes

France

Yes

7 February Sénat 11 June Vouli ton Ellinon

Greece

Yes

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Hungary Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia

Yes

17 December 2007 Országház 8 May Saeima 8 May Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas 29 May Chambre des Députés 29 January House of Representatives/ Kamra tad-Deputati 23 April Assembleia da República 4 February Camera Deputatilor + Senatul (joint parliamentary session) 10 April Národná rada Slovenskej republiky 29 January Drzavni Zbor

Yes Yes

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Bill passed unanimously Yes-votes No-votes Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions

325 5 14 70 3 1 83 5 23 47 1 3

Yes Yes

208 21 387 1 1 103 5 1 74 6 10

Irish refrendum
12 June referendum Yes-votes No-votes Invalid Participation 752,451 (= 46.6 percent) 862,415 (= 53.4 percent) 6,171 53.13 percent

Ireland

No

Ratification after Irish referendum
10 April Chambre des Représentants/ Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers 6 March Sénat/Senaat until 10 July regional parliaments 3 July Vouli Antiprosópon/Temsilciler Meclisi 31 July Camera dei Deputati 23 July Senato della Repubblica 8 July Eerste Kamer 5 June Zweete Kamer Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions 116 18 7

Belgium

Yes

Cyprus

Yes

Yes-votes 48 No-votes 8 Abstentions 1 The last parliament of the Belgium regions adopted the treaty on 10 July. Yes-votes 37 No-votes 17 Abstentions 1 Bill passed unanimously Bill passed unanimously Yes-votes No-votes Yes-votes No-votes 60 15 111 39

Italy

Yes

Netherlands

Yes

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26 June Congreso de los Diputados

Spain

Yes 15 July Senado 11 March House of Commons

UK

Yes

Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Yes-votes No-votes Yes-votes No-votes Abstentions Bill passed

322 6 2 232 6 346 206 94

18 June House of Lords

Sources:
séance de la session, 2 séance, Séance de 15 heures, 7 Assemblée nationale: Compte rendu analytique officiel, 120 Februrary 2008, available under: http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/13/cra/2007-2008/120.asp (last access: 25 September 2008). Bulgarian Parliament: National Assembly Ratifies the Treaty of Lisbon, press release, 21 March 2008, available under: http://www.parliament.bg/?page=news&lng=en&SType=show&id=1436 (last access: 25 September 2008). Bundesrat der Republik Österreich: Stenographisches Protokoll der 755. Sitzung des Bundesrates der Republik Österreich, 24 April 2008, p. 114, available under: http://www.parlinkom.gv.at/PG/DE/BR/BRSITZ/BRSITZ_00755/fname_116987.pdf (last access: 25 September 2008). Chambre des Députés: Compte Rendu des Séances Publiques No. 14 Session Ordinaire 2007-2008, 43e séance, 29 May 2008, p. 556, available under: http://www.chd.lu/servlet/GetCR?doc=178&fn=CR014_S041.pdf (last access: 25 September 2008). Chambre des Représentants de Belgique: Compte Rendu Integral avec Compte Rendu Analytique des Interventions, CRIV 52 PLEN 032, 10 April 2008, p. 87, available under: http://www.dekamer.be/doc/PCRI/pdf/52/ip032.pdf (last access: 25 September 2008). Congreso de Los Diputados: Pleno Y Diputación Permanente, IX Legislatura, Núm 20, 26 June 2008, p. 32, available under: http://www.congreso.es/public_oficiales/L9/CONG/DS/PL/PL_020.PDF#page=14 (last access : 26 September 2008). Council of the European Union (Brussels): Presidency Conclusions, 19/20 June 2008, Council document 11018/08 (CONCL 2), available under: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st11/st11018.en08.pdf (last access. 25 September 2008). Deutsch-Baltischen Handelskammer in Estland, Lettland und Litauen: Lettland und Litauen ratifizierten EU-Vertrag, 9 May 2008, available under: http://www.ahk-balt.org/index.php?id=50&L=0&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=201&cHash=1f3966f593 (last access: 25 September 2008). Deutscher Bundesrat: Stenografischer Bericht 844. Sitzung, 23 May 2008, Bundesratsplenarprotokoll 844, p. 136 (A-B), available under: http://www.bundesrat.de/cln_099/nn_992666/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/Plenarprotokolle/2008/Plenarprotokoll844,templateId=raw,property=publicationFile.pdf/Plenarprotokoll-844.pdf (last access: 25 September 2008). Deutscher Bundestag: Stenografischer bericht 157. Sitzung, 24 April 2008, Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/157, p. 16482 (D), available under: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/16/16157.pdf (last access: 25 September 2008). Eduskunta/Riksdag: 66. Keskiviikkona, PTK 66/2008 vp, 11 June 2008, p. 5, available under: http://www.eduskunta.fi/triphome/bin/thw/trip?${APPL}=utpptk&${BASE}=faktautpPTK&${THWIDS}=0.46/1222349146_216442& ${TRIPPIFE}=PDF.pdf (last access: 25 September 2008). EurActive: Netherlands ratifies EU's troubled Lisbon Treaty, 03 July 2008, available under: http://www.euractiv.com/en/futureeu/netherlands-ratifies-eu-troubled-lisbon-treaty/article-174063?Ref=RSS (last access: 26 September 2008). European Parliament: Minutes, 20 February 2008, Annex, Results of Votes, p. 4, available under: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+PV+20080220+RESVOT+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN (last access: 26 September 2008). EurActive: Lisbon Treaty gets Portugal's nod of approval, 24 April 2008, available under: http://www.euractiv.com/en/futureeu/lisbon-treaty-gets-portugal-nod-approval/article-171881 (last access: 26 September 2008). Folketing: Møder i Folketingssalen Nr. 61, 24 April 2008, available under: http://www.folketinget.dk/doc.aspx?/Samling/20072/MENU/01453889.htm (last access: 25 September 2008). Governo italiano: Pagina aggiornata il 31 luglio 2008, 31 July 2008, available under: http://www.governo.it/GovernoInforma/Dossier/ratifica_trattato_lisbona/ (last access: 26 September 2008). page 18 of 293
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House of Commons: Hansard (House of Commons Daily Debates), Volume No. 473, Part No. 64, 11 March 2008, Column 250, available under: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080311/debtext/80311-0021.htm (last access. 26 September 2008). House of Lords: Hansard (House of Commons Daily Debates), Volume No. 702, Part No. 110, 18 March 2008, Column 10281099, available under: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldhansrd/index/080618.html#speakers (last access: 26 September 2008). Institut für Europäische Politik: EU-27 Watch, No. 7, September 2008, Berlin. Institut für Europäische Politik: EU-27 Watch, No. 6, March 2008, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/EU-27_Watch_No_6.pdf (last access: 26 September 2008). Le Sénat de Belgique: Annales. Séances plénières, Séance de l’après-midi, 6 March 2008, Annales No. 4-19, p. 62, available under: http://www.senate.be/www/webdriver?MItabObj=pdf&MIcolObj=pdf&MInamObj=pdfid&MItypeObj=application/pdf&MIvalObj=67 109668 (last access: 25 September 2008). Nationalrat der Republik Österreich: Stenographisches Protokoll der 55. Sitzung des Nationalrates der Republik Österreich in der XXIII. Gesetzgebungsperiode, 9 April 2008, p. 215, available under: http://www.parlinkom.gv.at/PG/DE/XXIII/NRSITZ/NRSITZ_00055/fname_113800.pdf (last access: 25 September 2008). net tribune: Abstimmung über EU-Reformvertrag in Tschechien auf unbestimmte Zeit verschoben, 26 April 2008, available under: http://www.net-tribune.de/article/260408-372.php (last access: 25 September 2008) NZZ Online: Griechenland ratifiziert EU-Reform-Vertrag, 12 June 2008, available under: http://www.nzz.ch/nachrichten/international/griechenland_ratifiziert_eu-reformvertrag__1.757150.html (last access: 25 September 2005). ReferendumIreland: results, available under: http://www.referendum.ie/current/index.asp?ballotid=78 (last access: 25 September 2008). Riigikogu: Weekly Record, 9-12 June 2008, available under: http://www.riigikogu.ee/index.php?id=50655&parent_id=34596 (last access: 25 September 2008). Riigikogu: voting results, 11 June 2008, available under: http://www.riigikogu.ee/?page=haaletus&hid=330326&op=ems&content_type=text/html&new=1 (last access: 25 September 2008). Sara Hagemann: Treaty ratification: state of play, European Policy Centre 2008, 31 July 2008, available under: www.epc.eu/en/pub.asp?TYP=TEWN&LV=187&see=y&t=&PG=TEWN/EN/detailpub&l=12&AI=915 (last access: 25 September 2008). Sénate: Compte rendu analytique officiel, 7 February 2008, available under: http://www.senat.fr/cra/s20080207/s20080207_7.html#par_1098 (last access: 25 September 2008). Tages Anzeiger: Slowenien und Malta ratifizieren Reformvertrag, 30 January 2008, available under: http://sc.tagesanzeiger.ch/dyn/news/ausland/837100.html (last access: 25 September 2008). Tagesschau.de: EU-Reformvertrag ratifiziert. Ungarn macht es vor, 18 December 2007, available under: http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/ungarneu2.html (last access: 25 September 2008). Vlaams Parlement: Handelingen, Plenaire Vergaderingen, Plenaire 55, Zitting 2007-2008, 10 July 2008, pp. 23-43, available under: http://jsp.vlaamsparlement.be/docs/handelingen_plenaire/2007-2008/plen055-10072008.pdf (last access: 26 September 2008).

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1
The EU after the Irish referendum
On 12 June 2008, a majority of the Irish electorate voted in a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty with ‘No’. • What are the reactions in your country and which proposals are discussed or favoured with regard to the current ratification process? Which short-term and long-term implications for the integration process are expected and discussed in your country?

•

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The EU after the Irish referendum

Austria ∗
(Austrian Institute of International Affairs)

Expected short-term and long-term implications for the integration process Two major aspects dominated the discourse: The first was how the non-implementation or suspension of the Lisbon Treaty will affect Austria, including such implications as: the reduced number of European Parliament members, and difficulties in the work of the EU itself. The second major concern was the implication for Croatia’s envisaged accession. Since Austria can be seen as one of the most ardent promoters of the EU integration of the Western Balkan countries, particularly of the EU candidate Croatia, the outgoing Austrian government has been concerned with the cessation of the integration process in its direct neighbourhood. The Austrian government went even so far as saying that the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty was not a necessary precondition for Croatia’s accession.

Europe of ‘different speeds’ no solution The reactions in Austria ranged from expressions of regret to ones of approval, depending on the political party or the ideological background. The ruling SPÖ-ÖVP 23 coalition initially accepted and respected the Irish vote, and expressed the need for a better communication between ‘Brussels’ and the European population. Also, the Greens expressed their regret for the outcome, but stated that the governments were the ones to blame due to the lack of democratic principles and the disregard of social issues. The two right wing parties – the BZÖ 24 and FPÖ – were both content with the vote and the BZÖ called the ongoing ratification process in other EU member states a farce since they regarded the Lisbon Treaty to be dead. Other voices like the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB) suggested that the discussion should not be left to the EU opponents and that more communication was needed. The Union also insisted on the integration of more social issues. A more radical voice – Richard Wagner, writer and journalist in Berlin – said, in a maybe not entirely serious comment, that Ireland should be given the status of Turkey. Christian Felber 25 from Attac Austria pointed out that the Irish ‘No’ should be seen as a chance for a more democratic and a more ‘popular’ EU. Many proposals from the media were made ranging from the idea of a ‘Core Europe’, including the expulsion of Ireland, to the repetition of the referendum, exceptions for Ireland, reduced Lisbon Treaty and some more proposals, which are more or less a variation of what has been said before. From the side of the political parties there were fewer proposals than comments; most voices said that this had to be discussed more deeply in Brussels with the other member states and by the Irish population. But nearly all agreed that a Europe of ‘different speeds’ was no solution.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Belgium

∗

(Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles)

Diverse reactions – ratification process should be continued Generally speaking, most of the Belgian political, social and economic actors were deeply disappointed with the negative result of the referendum. However some academic personalities and actors from the civil society argued it was a good thing for European democracy, as the result is likely to create a debate involving the citizens. Political leaders in Belgium were saddened with the negative result. Some claimed, such as Ivo Belet (Belgian MEP – Christian Democrat) that the Irish people were not well enough informed and a bit frustrated, and that attention should be given to the reasons of the 26 rejection. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Karel De Gucht) and the Secretary of State for European Affairs (Olivier Chastel) noted that the situation should not be (over-) dramatized and that we should not heap criticism on Ireland. 27 Yves Leterme, the Belgian Prime Minister, insisted on the complexity and the
Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles. 26 See De Morgen, 13/06/08, available under: www.demorgen.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 27 See Le Soir, 16/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008).
∗

Austrian Institute of International Affairs. The SPÖ is Austria’s Social Democratic Party and the ÖVP Austria’s Conservative Party. 24 The BZÖ is a spin off from the FPÖ. 25 Attac is a civil society movement based in France, they engage for a more social and fair globalisation process.
23

∗

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EU-27 Watch | The EU after the Irish referendum

heterogeneity of the reasons explaining the ‘No’ vote. According to him, ‘Europe’ has become evident over time and the citizens became accustomed to the EU. European leaders should insist more on the benefits, particularly in Ireland that has benefited heavily from the European integration and structural funds. Moreover, he noted that national political leaders should take their responsibility in public management in national debates: Europe should not always be presented as responsible for all the gaps and damages 28 caused by neo-liberalism. As far as proposals from the political officials are concerned, mainstream actors claimed Ireland should be granted some time for reflection but the ratification process should continue. 29 They expect the other countries to ratify the Lisbon Treaty before 2009. The Flemish Greens (“Groen!”) argued that the reasons of the vote should be carefully analyzed so that the leaders could find a political agreement. Ivo Belet (Belgian MEP – Christian Democrat) thinks that a Plan-B, an alternative is needed, such as a declaration for a new referendum. 30 The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Karel De Gucht, also supports the idea of a continuation of the ratification process. A new referendum should take place, like with the Nice Treaty, because there is a consensus on the necessity to reform the EU. 31 He also made some concrete proposals. The first deals with the composition of the European Commission. He recommended that it remained composed of 27 members: 18 full effective Commissioners and nine members without voting right. He thinks that this should reassure Ireland of its influence on the decision making process. 32 That proposal had already been made by the Convention at the time of the European Constitution. The second proposal is the addition of a protocol on abortion, neutrality and defence policies but in his opinion, no change in the text itself should occur. 33

The Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, supports this view. Indeed, according to him, the ratification process should be pursued to send the signal that the other 26 member states want the Lisbon Treaty to be adopted and that Ireland cannot block the whole European Union. No renegotiation should take place. Finally, the idea of a ‘two-speed Europe’ was not supported: if some member states take only the advantages without the costs of the integration, the Belgian Prime Minister argued that it is hard to stand in a long-term 34 perspective. The media extensively covered the referendum and its consequences. Before the referendum took place, some newspapers warned that a positive answer should not be taken for granted. After the result, the press mainly highlighted the heterogeneity of the reasons behind the ‘No’ vote, ranging ideologically from the left to the right. 35 The newspapers also noted that the current political strategy in the EU is, on the one hand, to isolate Ireland through the continuation of the ratification process and on the other hand, to make the rejection less dramatic. 36 The proposals discussed in the press were rather diverse, ranging from a second referendum, an isolation of Ireland to a ‘two-speed Europe’ with the old EU as ‘avant-garde’. 37 Some journalists also stated that what the EU really needs is new ideas and projects to create support and enthusiasm from citizens. 38 Finally, the academic world was nuanced but rather divided. On the one hand, some such as Professor Hendrik Vos from Gent University affirmed that the treaty was a compromise and that another chance should be given to Ireland, perhaps with a declaration on its neutrality in defence policy. But he also stressed that because of this crisis, the EU remains blocked in institutional and constitutional debates and hence it is not able to focus on concrete 39 problems faced by the citizens. On the other hand, some academic and social groups claimed that Ireland should not vote

See Le Soir, 19/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 29 See Le Soir, 16/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 30 See De Morgen, 13/06/08, available under: www.demorgen.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 31 Ibid. 32 See Le Soir, 16/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 33 See De Morgen, 16/06/08, available under: www.demorgen.be (last access: 22/07/2008).

28

See Le Soir, 19/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 35 See Le Soir, 13/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 36 See ibid.; Le Soir, 20/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 37 See Le Vif l’express, 16/06/08, available under: www.levif.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 38 See Le Soir, 20/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 39 See Knack, 18/06/08, available under: www.knack.be (last access: 22/07/2008). page 22 of 293

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again on the same text because the rejection was a clear signal to the European leaders. Sophie Heine from Université libre de Bruxelles claimed that the EU needs a reorientation on both its form and its content in the sense of gaining more democracy. The 2009 European elections are seen as a solution to create a global and in-depth debate for a new treaty. 40 We can thus conclude that the reactions as well as the proposals after the ‘No’ vote were diverse in Belgium, although people were disappointed and generally favour a continuation of the ratification process. Short-term and long-term implications for the integration process Although many proposals were discussed, the short-term and long-term implications for the integration process were not much debated in the Belgian public sphere. For the Prime Minister, the question of the implications on future enlargement is to a large degree purely hypothetical and is not a source of anxiety. The continuation of the ratification process is the most important element for the 41 moment. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Karel De Gucht, raised the question of the use of referenda on European matters: he argued that people generally answer the wrong question. 42 He was not the only one to raise these kinds of questions. Indeed, some newspapers claimed that the referendum is a rather unwise mechanism and that people usually do not understand what is at stake. In the Irish case, the negative result was not seen as a pure protest against a lack of democracy. The reasons of the treaty rejection in Ireland were too diverse and seemed like a collective ’letting off steam’ rather than a real protest against the Lisbon Treaty itself. So, it was often claimed in the newspapers that the mechanisms of representative democracy should prevail on European affairs: parliamentary ratification is 43 as democratic as a referendum. However two positive implications were noted. Firstly, the
See Le Soir, 21/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). See De Morgen, 20/06/08, available under: www.demorgen.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 42 See Le Soir, 20/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 43 See ibid.; Le Soir, 14/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008).
41 40

Irish vote emphasized the growing distance between the EU and its citizens and political leaders should take that signal into account for the future. 44 The second implication is that the officials were forced to adopt another stance than after the French and the Dutch ‘No’. 45 The gap between citizens and elites is becoming obvious and cannot be denied anymore. Moreover, another period of reflection is not possible and another ‘mini-treaty’ or ‘simplified treaty’ is not feasible either. Finally, the EU is now expected to answer everyday concerns of its citizens, such as their purchasing power.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Bulgaria

∗

(Bulgarian European Community Studies Association)

Bulgaria regards the Irish ‘No’ as a threat to national interests Participation in and positive contribution to the revisions of the founding EU treaties has consistently headed Bulgaria’s priorities since the country’s accession to the EU. Such revisions are expected to lead to building a more efficient and democratic European Union. During the Lisbon Treaty negotiations Bulgaria was a positive partner, open for dialogue and willing to contribute towards reaching a consensus. The only instance of Bulgaria adopting a firm position and exerting pressure concerned an issue of a cultural nature, and it was quickly resolved. This issue was the right to use the denomination “Evro” (instead of “Euro”), when writing the common European currency in the Cyrillic alphabet. On virtually all other issues, Bulgarian political parties as well as national media have been openly supportive of the reforms envisaged in the treaty and, although much could be desired in terms of a more lively public debate and more detailed information for the general public, the overall attitude in Bulgaria towards the new treaty was favourable. This was demonstrated both at the time of signing the treaty and during its ratification.

See La Libre Belgique, 13/04/08, 14/06/08, available under: www.lalibre.be (last access: 22/07/2008); Le Soir, 13/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 45 See Le Soir, 20/06/08, 21/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). ∗ Bulgarian European Community Studies Association. page 23 of 293

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Bulgaria expected fast ratification in all member states Bulgaria was the sixth member state to ratify the Lisbon Treaty in parliament on March 21st 2008, with an overwhelming majority of MPs and broad support among political parties. With this act Bulgaria became the sixth EU member state to approve the new European treaty. 46 Bulgarian expectations about the ratification process in the other member states were optimistic, having in mind the method of ratification to be applied and the broad understanding that this new treaty was essential for the further development of integration in Europe. The Bulgarian government’s position during the Slovenian EU-Presidency was one of awareness of possible problems and a need for discreet efforts to support the ratification process. With the approaching of the date of the Irish referendum, the prospects for a negative vote began to appear in the public discourse. Media comments were rather cautious, but expectations for a positive vote in Ireland still prevailed. There was no extensive coverage of the run up to the referendum and there was no direct recognition of the critical nature of the vote. Irish ‘No’ risks Bulgarian national interests The results of the referendum received extensive comments in mainstream media. The overall reaction was that the outcome poses a serious problem for the EU with significant negative implications for Bulgaria. Barring a timely resolution of this crisis, various short-term and long-term risks for Bulgarian national interests are recognized: • a protracted political crisis in the EU, leading to a weaker and more fragmented union, less able to form consensus and act upon the contemporary economic, social and security challenges; • postponing, watering down or blocking of important institutional and policy reforms (In this regard, Bulgaria – in view of its geopolitical location – is especially interested in the positive future development of Common Foreign and Security Policy and the prospects for a common energy policy.);
Bulgarian Parliament: National Assembly Ratifies the Treaty of Lisbon, March 21st 2008, available at: http://www.parliament.bg (last access. September 2nd 2008).
46

•

•

increased tendency of forming ‘concentric circles’ or ‘two-speed Europe’ (This is considered to be one of the most negative scenarios for Bulgaria, because in this case it is expected that Bulgaria would inevitably be attached to the ‘outer layers’ of the union.); blocking or significant postponement of the EU enlargement process (One of the reasons for the Lisbon Treaty was to accommodate institutionally an increased number of member states and its coming to force is almost explicitly a precondition for further enlargement. For Bulgaria, blocking the accession process for its neighbours in South-East Europe (including Turkey) may pose serious longterm economic and security risks.).

Ratification should go on Contemplating on possible ways forward after the referendum, Bulgaria joined the position in June 2008 at the European Council that the process of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty should continue. Various scenarios have been debated in the Bulgarian media. The overall assessment is that the Irish ‘No’ poses a very serious challenge to the treaty, which cannot be ignored. It is recognized that the treaty cannot come into force unless all states ratify it, and even if the rest of the member states complete successfully the process, the Irish position needs to be accommodated. The Irish referendum was described in the light of its role in spelling a new institutional crisis for the EU and in revealing the gap between 47 public opinion and political elite. The situation put pressure on France to insist that ratification should continue in the eight countries that have not yet endorsed the treaty, in order to put pressure on Ireland. However, no one can say with certainty that European leaders are going to save the Lisbon Treaty. 48 At the same time, renegotiation is not regarded as an option. 49 According to media reports, the current deadlock stimulates discussion, encouraging

Radio Bulgaria: Implications of Ireland’s “no”, June 16th 2008, available at: http://www.bnr.bg (last access: nd September 2 2008). 48 Radio Bulgaria: It is “risky” to say we’ll save Lisbon Treaty, June 16th 2008; available at: http://www.bnr.bg (last access: nd September 2 2008). 49 Econ.bg: EU to push back Lisbon Treaty solution to the end of the year, June 20th 2008, available at: http://www.econ.bg nd (last access: September 2 2008); Econ.bg: Lisbon Treaty result to dominate EU meeting, June 19th 2008, available at: nd http://www.econ.bg (last access: September 2 2008).

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the concept of a ‘two-speed’ Europe, which is against the interests of Bulgaria. The official position of the country gives prominence to the support for the enforcement of the Lisbon Treaty. 50 According to the Bulgarian Minister of European Affairs Gergana Grancharova, the Irish vote should be regarded as just a problem rather than as a crisis. She underscored that the major European decisions need leadership, but not referendums. 51 The option of scrapping the Lisbon Treaty and starting the whole process all over again is considered to be the least desirable, with a very uncertain outcome. After so much energy and political capital has been invested after the failure of the Constitutional Treaty, there is now a feeling and understanding that the process needs to be completed successfully this time. On the other hand, there is also the recognition that applying pressure on Ireland and isolating this country is unacceptable and counterproductive. Comments in the media occasionally contained a degree of frustration over the results of the referendum, the argument being that Ireland – a major beneficiary of the EU so far – has become a recurring ‘spoiler’ (with reminders of the Nice Treaty ratification). Officially, though, the Bulgarian position has been one of respect for the sovereign right of Ireland with regards to the treaty and, at the same time, one of pleading for a constructive way forward. Two feasible scenarios are discussed – repetition of the Irish vote at a later date or applying another method of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The first option appears to be more democratic and fair. Based on the experience with the Nice Treaty, the idea of a second referendum could be a working solution. The necessary precondition is to analyse the reasons for the negative vote, identify the problematic parts of the treaty and offer adequate concessions to Ireland, thus providing sufficient grounds for a second referendum and enhancing the odds for approval. One possible step in this regard, that is frequently mentioned, is to secure an Irish commissioner. Still, the problems associated with this approach are recognised
Bulgarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs: Gergana Grancharova: Bulgaria has a clear interest in the enforcement th of the Lisbon Treaty, April 7 2008, available at: nd http://www.mfa.bg (last access: September 2 2008). 51 See Major European decisions need leadership, June 18th 2008, available at: http://www.gerganagrancharova.eu (last nd access: September 2 2008).
50

as well. First of all, there is the risk of further alienating the citizens by questioning their expressed will. A second problem is posed by the ambiguous and often contradictory rationale of the ‘No’ camp – it might be difficult to accommodate the different demands of the Irish voters. And, last but not least, there is the issue of timing. It is necessary to find a solution fast enough in order to implement the institutional reforms envisaged in the treaty. For Bulgaria this is a very important issue because further EU enlargement to South-East Europe is preconditioned by the successful ratification of the treaty. A second referendum is highly unlikely to take place within the initial ratification schedule (the end of 2008). The second approach being discussed in Bulgaria envisages adopting a different method of ratification, which does not include a referendum. For instance there is a discussion about the possibility of obtaining the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by an act of the Irish parliament during the accession of Croatia, expected to take place in 2009. The applicability of this approach (in case it is at some point accepted to be legally sound) is highly questionable in political terms and, if at all considered, would probably be proposed as a last resort to save the treaty. Last but not least, ratification is pending in several EU member states. The explicit negative positions of the Czech and Polish Presidents for instance, are considered to be sufficient enough evidence that there might be additional obstacles to the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Croatia

∗

(Institute for International Relations)

Political leaders and analysts express hopes that the EU will carry on with the ratification process Most of the debates and reports before and after the referendum were focused on the implications of adoption or refusal of the treaty on enlargement, more precisely on the position of Croatia. Vesna Roller, journalist, elaborated legal possibilities after the positive or negative outcome of the referendum. 52 She stated that even the Europeans did not know what the
Institute for International Relations. Vesna Roller: “The future of EU is in Irish hands”. Poslovni dnevnik, 13 and 14 June, 2008, p. 19.
52 ∗

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consequences of the eventual refusal of the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland were. Does it mean that the treaty is ‘dead’ (like it was the case with the “Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe” after the Dutch and French ‘No’ three years ago), or will the ratification continue in other nine countries? The first solution meant that it would be necessary to continue work on improving the document, which was hard to expect. It was more likely that the problem would be treated as a specifically Irish one, leaving the country to find the solution for negative outcome. Neven Mimica, chairman of the European Integration Committee of the Croatian parliament commented that the Irish citizens refused the idea of further federalisation of Europe but not the Lisbon Treaty itself. The gap between political elites and the wider population is increasing, which means that the Treaty was not well communicated to citizens. It is instructive for Croatia because it shows how important the referendum is. In his opinion the legal possibility for Croatia to become the th 28 member without the treaty being ratified is to incorporate the related parts through the Intergovernmental Conference into Croatian Accession Treaty. It is complicated but possible. 53 At the same time Neven Šimac from the Centre for European Documentation and Research, Zagreb was searching for the solution after the Irish ‘No’, saying that the key problem is that the EU will have to deal with its own problems primarily. His opinion was that some changes should be added to the Lisbon Treaty, so that it could be seen as improved. The academic debates on potential outcomes of the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty started in Croatia even before the referendum took place in Ireland. The Institute for International Relations (IMO) from Zagreb, the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA) from Dublin and the National Foundation for Civil Society Development from Zagreb organised a 54 public lecture entitled “A complex Treaty with a simple Message: The Challenge of Communications in a Referendum”, on May
In the Network of the First Programme, Croatian Radio, 16 June 2008, 7.30 a.m. 54 The lecture was given on the occasion of the promotion of the book Višnja Samardžija/Alan Dukes (eds.): “Communicating Integration Impact in Croatia and Ireland”, Zagreb 2008. The book resulted from the EC PHARE project “EU IMPACT – Academic Network for Communicating Integration Impacts in Croatia” and was promoted by Vincent Degert, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Croatia. See: http://www.imo.hr/europa/publics/books/integration/promoti on.html (last access: 28 July 2008).
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19th 2008at the premises of the EU Info Centre of the Delegation of the European Commission in Croatia. Alan Dukes, the former director of IIEA explained in his lecture that difficulties in understanding the EU treaties represented important factors in influencing the outcome of referenda which in Ireland according to the Irish constitution needed to be held each time the EU creates a new treaty. The textual complexity of the Lisbon treaty is difficult for readers not accustomed to that kind of legal language. He stressed that in referendum campaigns the task of the opposition is always much simpler: all that it requires is to raise ‘concerns’ and ‘fears’ about the prospects of a step into the unknown. Raising such concerns and fears is always much simpler than explaining a complex text. Furthermore, trouble with referendums is that the people give an answer to a question differently to that which is posed. Alan Dukes concluded his presentation by stating that communication of the fundamentals of EU action should not be left for the last minute, because then the consequences could be irrational. Concerns about postponement Croatian accession agenda of the

After the Irish ‘No’, the focus of public interest was directed primarily on potential impacts of the Treaty’s non-ratification to Croatia’s accession to the EU. The first reactions were given immediately after the referendum by the Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs and EU Integration, Gordan Jandroković; the Head of the Delegation of the European Commission, Vincent Degert and British ambassador to Croatia John Ramsden. They all shared the opinion that the Irish negative decision should not endanger or significantly slow down Croatian accession to the EU. Croatia should therefore not be afraid of the negative outcome of the referendum and should continue with reforms; while the EU will most likely be able to find the model that will enable Croatia to enter the EU (Jandroković). Vincent Degert shared optimism regarding Croatia’s accession but stressed that the European Commission had different expectations from the referendum. Neven Mimica, chairman of the European Integration Committee of the Croatian parliament was of the opinion that Croatia should ask for some kind of guarantee from the EU member states to find some framework for the enlargement. One of the solutions might be to put Ireland into “ratification isolation”, while another way is to continue with ratifications

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resulting with the situation in which Ireland will be the only country that has not ratified the Treaty. 55 Vladimir Drobnjak, Croatian chief negotiator with the EU, shared a similar opinion even before the Irish referendum, saying that Croatia should not be preoccupied with the entering into force of the Lisbon Treaty but should focus on completing negotiations in the best possible way. 56 Most of the politicians and commentators shared the opinion that the negative outcome of the referendum should not affect Croatia (in spite of the fact that the Nice Treaty makes the ground for 27 EU members only) but might cause the slow down of accession in the other countries of the region. However, the statements given by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that treaty’s entering into force is a precondition for any further enlargement including Croatia raised different reactions. Croatian President Stjepan Mesić is of the 57 opinion that it does not relate to Croatia; chief negotiator Vladimir Drobnjak agrees that the outcome makes things more complicated in a certain way, while Zoran Milanović, the leader of Social Democratic Party is of the opinion that this statement was primarily directed towards Europe and not towards Croatia, because it might motivate the eurosceptics to accept the Lisbon Treaty. 58 Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was encouraged after meeting with colleagues from European People’s Party in Brussels where he was assured that some solution would be found for Croatia even in the case that the Lisbon Treaty would not be accepted. The other solution which might bring result is repeating the Irish referendum but with better preparations. 59 There were also reactions from academic circles. Mladen Staničić, the director of Institute for International Relations, Zagreb said that President Sarkozy’s statement was the outcome of the need to take into account his electorates which are sceptical towards enlargement and institutional strengthening of the EU; while Anđelko Milardović, professor of
“Croatia should not be worried by the Irish ‘No’”. Jutarnji list, 15 June 2008, pp. 2-3. The first statements were given on the occasion of the seminar on the EU accession held in Opatija. 56 “France gives importance to negotiations with Croatia”. Jutarnji list, 17 June 2008, pp. 37-39. 57 “Merkel and Sarkozy: Without Lisbon Treaty Croatia can not enter the EU”. Novi list, 21 June, p. 7. 58 “No to Croatia. Sarkozy and Merkel: We are against the new EU widening”. Jutarnji list, 21 and 22 June 2008, p. 8. 59 “Sanader: A solution will be found for Croatia”. Večernji list, 21 June 2008, p. 16.
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political studies from the Political Science Research Centre, Zagreb stresses that it was the wrong message to send towards the Western Balkans because it could discourage its pro-European forces. 60 The recent meeting of the National Committee for Monitoring the Accession Negotiations was dedicated to this particular issue. Vesna Pusić, the president of the committee gave statement that within the negotiation chapter 34 the technical and legal possibility was envisaged for Croatia to become EU member independently of the confirmation of Lisbon Treaty. However, in such a case a very strong political will is needed from EU member states together with the absolute and precise 61 fulfilment of criteria from Croatian side.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Cyprus ∗
(Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies)

Parliament ratified treaty – major governing party opposed The rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish people was widely, if rather cautiously, perceived by the Cypriots as a serious setback in the efforts for a stronger, more democratic European Union. Upon hearing of the Irish ‘No’ vote, the Cypriot government suggested that it favoured a collective handling of the matter by the EU-27 in order to achieve an acceptable outcome. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Markos Kyprianou, stated that the application of the treaty was already being discussed in the EU, but added that the possibility for Ireland to optout of the treaty was not real, since the treaty determines vital aspects of the Union’s operation, such as the mandate for the 62 The President of the European Council. Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that, henceforth, either Ireland will need to repeat the vote or the EU should examine other ways in which to operate.

“Merkel and Sarkozy: Without the Lisbon Treaty Croatia can not enter the EU”. Novi list, 21 June 2008, p. 7. 61 “Croatia dependant on the EU political will”. Novi list, 24 June 2008, p. 4. The article gives also a comment of the European Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberg that no explicit legal obstacle for further enlargement exists in the Nice Treaty, it is the matter of EU member states to decide if the Union could continue with enlargement. ∗ Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies. 62 Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou, 13/06/2008.

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Before his departure for Brussels for the discussion of the Lisbon Treaty – following its rejection by Ireland – in the framework of the two-day European Council, President Demetris Christofias (who is regarded as mildly eurosceptic) stated that the interests of the people and the EU itself should be at the centre of any decision taken among the EU-27 heads of state and government. 63 He added that the Lisbon Treaty, in the view of the Irish and a lot of people in the EU, does not differ from the already rejected Constitutional Treaty. The Cypriot President expressed the hope that the EU-27 will not agree on a certain reflection period during which calculations will take place in an attempt to ratify the Treaty without any changes whatsoever. In Brussels, Cypriot President Christofias conveyed to his EU counterparts what he described as Nicosia’s ‘positions of principle’ regarding the need to respect the people’s will as expressed in referenda. He also compared the Irish referendum to the notorious one in Cyprus, concerning the so-called “Annan Plan”, in 64 2004. President Christofias then argued that Ireland should not be pressured to accept a treaty rejected by the majority of its people. Demetris Christofias, who leads ‘radical-left’ party AKEL, pledged to promote the continuation of the ratification process in Cyprus. He was thus fulfilling his promise to honour his predecessor’s signature to the treaty and his commitment to the Cypriot people, despite his own party’s reservations 65 vis-à-vis the treaty. Debate whether to ratify or not The Cypriot political parties, which were called to ratify the Lisbon Treaty at the “House of Representatives” in July, expressed various views after the June Irish ‘No’. Senior coalitionparty, AKEL, supported the examination of the situation in a calm manner, to be followed by a decision on the way to proceed. Simultaneously, in accordance with the government’s reported position, it had left open the possibility of postponing the ratification of 66 By the end of June, AKEL’s the treaty. central committee decided unanimously to vote against the Lisbon Treaty during the plenary session of the Cypriot “House of
Statement by President Demetris Christofias, 18/06/2008. 64 Statement by President Demetris Christofias, 20/06/2008. 65 Ibid. 66 Statements by AKEL MP Andros Kyprianou, 13/09/2008.
63

Representatives”. AKEL maintained that the treaty’s content is not in the best interests of the people of Europe, particularly of the workers. 67 AKEL’s decision was largely criticised by the overwhelming majority of the Cypriot political parties (Democratic Rally, DISY; Democratic Party, DIKO; Social-Democrat, EDEK; and European Party EUROKO). Two of them – DIKO and EDEK – participate with AKEL in the Cypriot coalition government. The ‘centre-right’ main opposition party DISY, which upon the rejection of the treaty by Ireland, suggested that Cyprus should move fast to reap the political benefits of being the first country – after the Irish ‘No’ – to ratify the treaty, expressed its disappointment. DISY claimed that AKEL was siding with marginal forces within the EU and demonstrating its 68 euroscepticism anew. DISY’s leader, Nikos Anastasiades, in criticising AKEL, argued that eurosceptic tendencies should not block the progressive powers which want to chart new paths for Cyprus. An announcement released by DISY, projecting its positions on the Lisbon Treaty, emphasized inter alia that Cyprus must follow the path outlined by the majority of member states which want the EU to go forward by rejecting euroscepticism. 69 Government coalition parties DIKO and EDEK were also among the strongest supporters of the Lisbon Treaty. The ‘centrist’ Democratic Party, DIKO, also commented on left-wing AKEL’s decision to vote against the Lisbon Treaty. DIKO issued a statement suggesting that while every party is, of course, entitled to its positions, it should not by the same token jeopardize the best interests of the Cypriot 70 people. Social-Democratic EDEK, through its leader, Yiannakis Omirou, advocated that the decision by AKEL is mistaken: for despite its shortcomings, the Lisbon Treaty is better than the Treaty of Nice and its ratification is in the best interest of Cyprus. 71 Omirou noted that the non-ratification of the treaty by all member states could lead to paralysis and even the collapse of the EU.

Minutes of the meeting of AKEL’s central committee, 23/06/2008. 68 Statement by the leader of DISY Nicos Anastasiades, 24/06/2008. 69 Democratic Rally (DISY) statement, 23/06/2008. 70 Democratic Party (DIKO) statement, 23/06/2008. 71 Statement by the leader of EDEK Yiannakis Omirou, 23/06/2008.

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European Party, EUROKO, invited AKEL to inform the Cypriots on the precise points on which it disagrees with the treaty as well as to suggest a method for the negotiation of changes to the treaty. 72 During a live television discussion, EUROKO’s leader, Demetris Syllouris, advocated that AKEL, as the principal governing party, was obliged to avoid decisions that could damage Cyprus’ international image and jeopardize its standing in the European Union. 73 For its part, the Cypriot Green Party decided to abstain during the vote in the “House of Representatives”, in order to protest against the ‘procedures’ being followed vis-à-vis the promotion of the treaty. 74 The party’s leader, Giorgos Perdikis, explained that the Cypriot Greens favour a strong, democratic Europe and a stronger European voice, particularly concerning the growing global food and economic crises. Perdikis reiterated anew his proposal for a Cypriot referendum for the ratification of the treaty. 75 The Reform Treaty was ratified by the Cypriot “House of Representatives”, following a daylong session, on 3 July 2008: 37 votes were in favour, 17 against, with one abstention. In favour of the treaty were, as announced beforehand, the DISY (18) votes, the DIKO (11) votes, the five votes by EDEK and the three EUROKO votes. The only party opposed to the treaty was AKEL (17 votes), while the Green Party (one vote) abstained. Ratification sends a positive message to Europe More generally, the parties which voted in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, in speeches delivered by their MPs and party leaders during the parliamentary session, stressed that the treaty, despite its weaknesses, is the way for the EU to move forward and unify Europe, strengthen the role of Cyprus within the EU, strengthen the powers of the European Parliament and national parliaments, and help the EU gain a stronger voice on the international scene. They criticised the stance held by the head-ruling AKEL party and argued that the treaty will strengthen institutions which can contribute to the security of Cyprus while
Statement by the leader of EUROKO Demetris Syllouris, 23/06/2008. 73 Televised debate at the midday newsfeed of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation “CyBC”, 24/06/2008. 74 Minutes of the meeting of the Green Party’s political office, 22/06/2008. 75 Ibid.
72

providing Cyprus with added instruments and means in its efforts for a fair and workable political settlement of the Republic’s problem. Leader of the opposition party DISY, Nicos Anastasiades, also stated that the ratification of the treaty sends a positive message to the rest of Europe, another DISY MP arguing that it was a message of solidarity at a difficult time for the member states following the rejection by Ireland. AKEL MPs, in justifying their opposition, argued that the treaty represents a neo-liberal approach; that European citizens have not been properly informed on the provisions of the treaty; that it in fact weakens smaller EU states like Cyprus; that markets will be completely deregulated thereby hurting consumers; and that NATO would remain the main European defence structure. The leader of AKEL’s parliamentary group, in defence of its party’s position on the Lisbon Treaty, noted that, since President Christofias was elected to office, support for the EU amongst Cypriots rose by 20 percent. The leader of the Green Party reiterated in his speech that his party is not opposed to the EU moving forward; however, he called for a better treaty and for the treaty to be put to a referendum in all EU member states. In any event, most MPs maintained that Cypriots were rather unfamiliar with many provisions of the Lisbon Treaty and that, therefore, more awareness-raising was necessary. Limited public discussion on Lisbon Treaty The MPs’ perception that Cypriots are unaware of many Lisbon Treaty provisions was confirmed by a follow-up opinion poll, published by the Nicosia newspaper 76 “Simerini”. According to the poll, eight out of ten Cypriots are very interested in the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. However, 54 percent of them reported that they do not know any of its provisions while 49 percent admitted they did not know whether its ratification is in the interest of Cyprus. Also, asked how they would have voted if the treaty was put to a referendum, 23 percent said they would have supported it, 22 percent that they would have rejected it, while 51 percent did not answer. The opinion poll was conducted between the nd rd 2 and 3 of July with a sample of 500 respondents. Public discussions on the actual content of the Lisbon Treaty and its implications were rather limited in Cyprus. The “European Institute of
Nicosia daily Simerini: Simerini’s large survey’, 06/07/2008.
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Cyprus” organised an indicative discussion in the framework of the Celebrations for Europe Day. 77 The particular conference focused on the implications of the Lisbon Treaty for smaller EU member states. Speakers included MEPs Panayiotis Demetriou, Ioannis Kasoulides and Kyriacos Triantaphylides. In fact, Triantaphylides was the only MEP that noted that the Lisbon Treaty is negative for smaller states emphasising the reduction in the number of commissioners. More generally, various participants expressed particular concerns, first, on whether a small country like Cyprus could secure its vital interests by losing its veto right; second, on whether the political elite in the Island-state is well-informed about the structural changes provided in the treaty; and third, on whether these changes will be taken into consideration in the forthcoming negotiation process for the resolution of the Cyprus problem. Nevertheless, Cypriot diplomats conveyed to us that the interests of the smaller EU member states “lie in a strong 78 EU in both its internal and external aspects” .

The EU after the Irish referendum

Czech Republic ∗
(Institute of International Relations)

Mixed reactions to the Irish ‘No’ The rejection of the Lisbon Treaty was received with mixed reactions in the Czech Republic. Critics of the treaty, such as President Václav Klaus and a faction of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), were outspokenly satisfied with the outcome and argued that, since the treaty has been rejected, the ratification process in the Czech Republic should also be stopped. 79 Especially the Green Party, the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, on the other hand, called for a rapid continuation of the ratification process in the Czech Republic. The destiny of the treaty in the Czech Republic is yet unsure and has been put at standstill until the constitutional court expresses its opinion, which is expected in the fall.

The governing coalition, consisting of Civic Democrats, Greens and Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL), has stated that the ratification process shall continue, but that it is necessary to wait for the opinion of the Czech constitutional court. Thus, the court is in a position where it could complicate the ratification of the treaty. The Irish ‘No’ seems in general to have also strengthened the position of the critics in the Czech Republic, who now have a new powerful argument. The treaty was put to referendum only in one member state, and there the outcome was negative, how 80 then, can such a treaty be democratic? It seems the treaty has sufficient support in the Chamber of Deputies the Czech parliament, but it was the Senate that required the constitutional court to express its opinion, and the Senate might block the ratification independent of the verdict of the court. Again, everything depends on how many senators from the Civic Democratic Party, in the end, will oppose the ratification. Since the Prime Minister, Mirek Topolánek, and the Minister for European Affairs, Alexander Vondra, are both Civic Democrats, it is very much a question of how well the ODS party leadership manages to convince the party’s backbenchers to support the treaty. The Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Alexandr Vondra, argues that the rejection should not be understood as the end of the Lisbon Treaty but as a complication. However, and in opposition to the opposition, he argues that it does not make any sense to rush the ratification in the Czech Republic. He, as well as most observers, argues that it is not unlikely that the treaty can come into force as planned by the first of 81 January 2009. The time schedule of the ratification process has achieved rather much attention since the Czech Council Presidency will take part during the first sixth months of 2009. Therefore, some leading politicians have expressed the opinion that a slight delay actually is welcomed since the presidency in that case will be a “fullworthy” presidency. 82 On the other hand, some analysts have argued that a delay can make
Cf. Jan Zahradil: Irské NE platí. Smiřte se s tím (The Irish no counts. You have to accept it), available at: http://zpravy.ods.cz/prispevek.php?ID=6857 (last access: 14 July 2008). 81 Alexandr Vondra: Irské ne není tragédie, jenom zádrhel (The Irish no is not a tragedy, only a complication), available at: http://zpravy.ods.cz/prispevek.php?ID=6840 (last access: 14 July 2008). 82 Cf. Petr Gandalovič, available at: http://zpravy.ods.cz/prispevek.php?ID=6882 (last access: 14 July 2008).
80

Cyprus News Agency, 09/05/2008. 78 Interviews conducted by Christos Xenophontos, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, late June 2008. ∗ Institute of International Relations. 79 Rozhovor prezidenta republiky pro deník Lidové noviny o irském odmítnutí Lisabonské smlouvy (Interview with the President of the [Czech] Republic about the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty), available at: http://www.klaus.cz/klaus2/asp/clanek.asp?id=2rABZnIJhJ cK (last access: 14 July 2008).

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the presidency more difficult because of the internal division in the government and in the Civic Democratic Party, which makes it hard for the country to act as a solution finder. Furthermore, if the Czech Republic fails to ratify the treaty, it could weaken the country’s negotiation capabilities. 83 Another opinion expressed, is that in the case the treaty still would come into force during the Czech Presidency, it would give the country influence over how the treaty will work in practice. 84 It is expected that the Czech parliament will get the issue on its agenda again in the fall after the constitutional court has had its say in the matter. Several experts on the Czech constitution have argued that it is very unlikely that the court will find anything unconstitutional in the Lisbon Treaty. 85 The government has also expressed the opinion that the treaty is in agreement with the Czech constitution according to the court. 86 It seems that the ratification of the treaty might also be linked to other domestic political issues. For instance, the leader of the Green Party, Martin Bursík, has suggested that the government would not survive a rejection of the Lisbon Treaty if caused by members of the Civic Democratic Party. 87 Prime Minister Topolánek, on the other hand, has indicated that support of the whole Civic Democratic faction for the Lisbon Treaty might be achieved if the treaty with the US regarding an antimissile radar base in the Czech Republic is approved by the parliament. 88 In the end, the upcoming presidency might help to push the ratification through in parliament. It is believed that if the Czech Republic fails to ratify the treaty before its presidency, it would diminish

the country’s chance of having a successful presidency. 89 The long-term consequences of the rejection have so far not been that much discussed by the political elite. Advocates of the treaty have mostly been hesitant in describing the current situation as a crisis and they still expect the treaty in the end to be ratified. The critics, with Václav Klaus as their most prominent figure, see the rejection as a possibility to re-open the negotiations on the treaty. They argue that there is no reason to treat the Irish reaction any differently compared to the earlier French and Dutch once. If one country has rejected 90 the treaty this means that it is ”dead”. Klaus would prefer a totally new treaty, given that he rejects any arrangement that enables a situation where one country can be outvoted by the others, although it is rather hard to see what sort of arrangement that would be. 91

The EU after the Irish referendum

Denmark

∗

(Danish Institute for International Studies)

The Irish ‘No’: impact on the Danish optouts The Irish voters’ rejection of the Lisbon Treaty was met with disappointment by the Danish government and pro-EU parties, but with joy from the parties and movements against the treaty being adopted in Denmark without a referendum. Jens-Peter Bonde (leader of the EU sceptical June Movement and former MEP) spent the 13th of June 2008 in Ireland celebrating the result with the Irish ‘No’ voters. The right-wing Danish Peoples Party, the leftwing Unity list and the two movements against the treaty, the June Movement and the Peoples’ Movement against the EU, saw the Irish rejection of the treaty as the final end of the treaty. There is generally agreement in the Danish parliament (“Folketing”) that reform of the Lisbon Treaty is not an option as the treaty is
89

Cf. Jiří Pehe: České paradoxy irského ‘ne’ (Czech Paradoxes regarding the Irish ‘No’), available at: http://www.rozhlas.cz/komentare/portal/_zprava/465808 (last access: 14 July 2008). 84 Cf. Výhledy lisabonské smlouvy vidí čeští europoslanci dost odlišně (Czech members of the European parliament view the prospects of the Lisbon Treaty very differently), Czech News Agency, 20 April 2008. 85 Eurosmlouva projde, tipují znalci (Eurot-treaty will be accepted bet experts), Hospodářské noviny, 30 June 2008. 86 Lisabonská smlouva je v pořádku, píše vláda soudu (The Lisbon Treaty is acceptable, writes the government to the court), Hospodářské noviny, 27 June 2008. 87 Bursík kritizoval Topolánka. Kvůli Lisabonské smlouvě (Bursík criticised Topolánek over the Lisbon Treaty), Hospodářské noviny, 13 July 2009. 88 Mirek Topolánek: Bez radaru nemusí projít ani Lisabonská smlouva (Without the radar cannot the Lisbon Tretay be accepted), Hospodářské noviny, 9 July 2008.

83

As argued for instance Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Alexandr Vondra, see, e.g. Vondra: Bylo by dobré ratifikovat smlouvu před předsednictvím (Vondra: It would be good to ratify the treaty before the presidency), Hospodářské noviny, 26 June 2008. 90 “Napíšu novou smlouvu unie” (I write a new Union treaty), Hospodářské noviny, 19 June 2008. 91 Václav Klaus: Před debatou o euroústavě (Before the debate on the Euro-constitution), available at: http://www.klaus.cz/klaus2/asp/clanek.asp?id=jcGemB95d ZjR (last access: 14 July 2008). ∗ Danish Institute for International Studies.

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already a political balance between conflicting interests. Therefore, changing the treaty text is regarded as opening a Pandora’s box and (re)starting a never-ending process. The Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has recommended that Ireland negotiates opt-outs from the Lisbon Treaty but should be cautious in ‘cherry picking’ from the document. The Danish model of 1992 could be a model for Ireland referring to the four Danish opt-outs from 1992 that enabled Denmark to endorse the Maastricht Treaty after an initial referendum thumbs-down. According to Rasmussen, Ireland should find national solutions that are acceptable for Ireland and the Irish people in a similar way that the Danish parliament dealt with the Danes rejection of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. There is no doubt, however, that the Danish pro-treaty parties want Ireland to find a solution as soon as possible. Most Danish newspapers have more or less doomed the EU integration process in case the Lisbon Treaty fails to come into force leaving the EU in a worse ‘crisis’ than the so-called reflection period following the failure of the Constitutional Treaty. 92 The Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty also has an impact on the Danish opt-outs. Prior to the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, it seemed likely that the Danish opt-out regarding supranational co-operation on Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) and the defence policy optout were going to be put to a referendum in autumn 2008. The Lisbon Treaty gives the JHA opt-out much greater significance as all aspects of formerly-JHA co-operation come under supranational co-operation, including police and criminal law co-operation. If the JHA opt-out is maintained and the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, Denmark will stand completely outside the whole area of JHA cooperation in the course of a few years. The Lisbon Treaty opens the possibility for Denmark to change the opt-out to an opt-in arrangement with the hypothetical possibility of picking and choosing on a case-by-case basis. However, after the Irish voters’ rejection of the Lisbon Treaty and the following uncertainty of the treaty’s future, it is uncertain whether or not, Denmark will have a referendum on one or more opt-outs in the near future.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Estonia ∗
(University of Tartu)

Proceed with ratification, continue enlargement The Estonian government regards the outcome of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty as regrettable. The Irish ‘No’ is seen as prolonging the period of confusion and uncertainty, and having potentially negative implications for the European Union’s competitiveness, further enlargement as well as the EU’s credibility in the international arena. The Estonian government has been a strong proponent of both the Constitutional Treaty and the Reform Treaty throughout the drawn-out process of treaty reform. The government regards finding a solution to the constitutional impasse as the most important task for the French Presidency, while recognizing that the Irish government has a special responsibility for proposing possible solutions. Government officials have, as a rule, avoided taking clear positions on what constitutes the best way out, recognizing that there are no simple solutions. In any case, Estonia supports the continuation of the ratification process by the member states that 93 The have not yet ratified the treaty. government also urges the EU to continue the enlargement process “with the same pace as previously outlined.” 94 “Riigikogu”, the Estonian parliament, ratified the Lisbon Treaty on June 11th 2008 with 91 votes in favour and one against (previously, it had ratified the Constitutional Treaty on May 9th 2006). One of the smaller parties (People’s Union) wanted to insert a clause into the ratification bill stipulating the supremacy of the Estonian constitution over legal acts of the European Union. The Constitutional Committee of the “Riigikogu” declared that such an amendment would be legally incorrect and unnecessary given that a constitutional amendment, adopted prior to Estonian accession to the EU, already stipulates the compatibility of EU membership with the Estonian constitution.
University of Tartu. Estonia’s priorities in the European Union during the French Presidency, available under: www.vm.ee (last st access: 1 of September 2008). 94 Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Delays in Implementation of Lisbon Treaty Should Not Interfere with Expansion of European Union, statement by Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at EU Council meeting in Brest, France, press th release, 13 of July 2008, available under: www.vm.ee st (last access: 1 of September 2008).
93 ∗

EU-Business: Reform of Lisbon Treaty not an option after Irish ‘no’: Danish PM, available at: http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1213836423.46 (last access: 2 July 2008).

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The sentiments about the Irish ‘No’ expressed by the government appear to be broadly shared by members of the “Riigikogu”. Ene Ergma, speaker of the parliament, said that the ratification process must continue: “There is no plan B and there cannot be because the Lisbon Treaty was plan B. It is inconceivable that the Riigikogu would have to approve plan C, D and so on until the end of the alphabet.” 95 Marko Mihkelson, the chair of the European Affairs Committee of the “Riigikogu”, also confirmed that if the EU wants to be competitive, “there is no alternative to the Lisbon Treaty.” 96 Coverage of the fate of the Lisbon Treaty in the Estonian media has been quite multi-faceted, although in the middle of the short Estonian summer, the public cannot be expected to pay too much attention. Prior to the ratification of the treaty by the “Riigikogu”, several eurosceptic leaders took up the constitutional compatibility issue. The diminishing role of the national parliament as a result of European integration was another major criticism. The proponents of the Lisbon Treaty, in contrast, have hailed the clauses increasing the involvement of national parliaments in EU decision making. In wake of the Irish ‘No’, columnists pointed out that the referendum is a crude instrument, ill suited for making decisions on complicated international issues. According to one analysis, referendum votes on such treaties resemble attempts to “repair a watch with a blacksmith’s 97 hammer”. The situation where three million voters effectively made a decision for the 490 million inhabitants of the EU gave rise to new discussions about the conflict between state sovereignty and supranational democracy. Journalists and independent analysts have been less restrained in proposing possible scenarios and solutions than government officials. The various proposals that have been mentioned include holding a new referendum in Ireland, adopting declarations on issues of concern to Irish voters, and enforcing the treaty in 26 member states, with Ireland concluding a separate treaty with the EU.

Other opinion pieces, mostly by well-known but not very influential eurosceptics, have been explicitly critical of the direction and methods of the EU’s development. One such article depicted the Irish ‘No’ as an important ‘democratic victory’ and criticised the use of ‘political technologies’ to obtain results supportive of further centralisation and federalisation. Referring to the Irish referendums on the Nice Treaty, the author lamented the practice of holding new referendums under political pressure until the 98 desired ‘Yes’ is obtained.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Finland

∗

(EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs)

Near media silence on the issue The public reactions to the result of the Irish referendum can be described as ‘silent’. Officially, the resounding ‘No’ vote was received with much regret. Significant comments on the result came from the following politicians: Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, the European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn, and a member of parliament Timo Soini from the True Finns Party. The Prime Minister noted how the Irish have given the other member states a lot of trouble in the weeks ahead but that it was important that other member states would forge ahead with 99 the ratification processes. Also, the openly pro-EU Foreign Minister, Alexander Stubb, expressed his disappointment but stated his confidence in the European Union’s ability to find a creative solution to the current impasse. Stubb feels this should be a moment of introspection for the EU whose operation has turned into one of perennial crisis management. 100 The European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, – a Finn – also contributed to the discussion by stating that it is all of the member states’ responsibility to find a solution for the situation. 101

Estonia parliament: Ergma peab tähtsaks Lissaboni lepingu ratifitseerimisprotsessi jätkamist, press release, th 20 of June 2008, available under: www.riigikogu.ee (last st access: 1 of September 2008). 96 th Marko Mihkelson: Arvamus, Postimees, 14 of June 14, 2008. 97 Ahto Lobjakas: Rahvusriik või Euroopa riik?, Postimees, th 16 of June 2008.

95

Anti Poolamets: Lissaboni leping kinnistab liitriigistumist, th Eesti Päevaleht, 16 of June 2008. ∗ EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs. 99 Helsingin Sanomat: Vanhanen: Tästä tulee nyt th päänvaivaa, 14 of June 2008, p. B1. 100 Helsingin Sanomat: Stubb: Irlannille etsitään luova th ratkaisu, 14 of June 2008, p. B1. 101 Helsingin Sanomat: Rehn: EU:lla kyky selviytyä th takaiskuista, 14 of June 2008.

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The main EU-sceptic in the country, the MP and leader of the populist party True Finns, Timo Soini, rejoiced at the verdict, arguing that everywhere where the people have been given a say on the EU, the verdict has been the same with very little evidence that the elite in Brussels are learning a lesson. For him, trying to sell a product that is 99 percent the same as the Constitutional Treaty has yet again resulted in the European Union’s utter humiliation. For Soini, a more viable European Union would consist of a single market with emphasis on environmental protection. Soini noted that the Irish result warranted him enjoying a can of 102 Guinness in honour of the Irish voters. Before the referendum, various sports bodies had been in the media, described as being on the losing side should the treaty enter into force. The Finnish sports federation together with “European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation” (ENGSO) had taken a deep interest in the treaty and especially in article 165 that would, for the very first time, define a EU competence in sports. The Finnish sports federation is looking for a very restricted competence for the EU that would essentially preserve sports under national jurisdiction, so 103 for them the ‘No’ vote meant success. Regarding the shortand long-term implications for the integretation process, some politicians have pointed out that the EU has been in a similar situation before. However, there has not been any deeper analysis on the topic. The main implication is the prolongation of the process and the negative image of the EU in the media. For example, the EU has been accused for not producing the consolidated version of the treaty in time and for not informing people enough on the issues related to the treaty during the Irish election campaign. The major expert on EU affairs in Finland, Professor Tapio Raunio, has stated that EU has never been in a crisis and the European Union will not fall apart even if the 104 treaty would be declared dead. Future scenarios Foreign Minister put forward by the

put forward by the Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, who has presented five options to react to the results of the Irish referendum. The first four he considers unrealistic. The first option is to forget the Lisbon Treaty and continue on the basis of the Nice Treaty. The second option would be to organise another referendum in Ireland. That would however play down the significance of the democratic system in Ireland. The third option would be to renegotiate the treaty. That would mean a lot of work with uncertain final results. The fourth option would be the condensed co-operation of some member states in certain areas. This would lead in the end to the disintegration of the EU. Stubbs final option would be to take it easy and try to find a creative, common 105 This could mean optEuropean solution. outs or additional declarations. 106

The EU after the Irish referendum

France

∗

(Centre européen de Sciences Po)

Setback before the French Presidency The question of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is particularly important in France since the French President Nicolas Sarkozy is viewed as the main promoter of this treaty. Its adoption has always been considered as a major political goal and after the Irish ‘No’ vote; the French leaders had no choice but to add the ratification issue onto the agenda of the forthcoming French EU-Presidency. Overcoming the ‘incident’ As expected, Nicolas Sarkozy immediately reacted to the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty, by trying to minimise its impact. First, he tried to make Peter Mandelson, European Commissioner for External Trade, responsible for this failure. According to the French President, the way Peter Mandelson negotiated an agreement with the WTO 107 Then, he pointlessly worried Irish farmers. qualified this result as an ‘incident’, arguing that the other European member states had to go on with their respective ratification process, in order to prevent this Irish incident from turning into a major crisis. For many observers
Helsingin Sanomat: Viisi tietä eteenpäin, 24 of June 2008. 106 Parliament of Finland, Seminar on the Aftermath of the rd European Council, 23 of June 2008. ∗ Centre européen de Sciences Po. 107 Le Nouvel Observateur: Traité de Lisbonne: Sarkozy accuse un commissaire européen, 23/06/2008.
105 th

Regarding the aftermath of the referendum, the most comprehensive scenario so far has been
Helsingin Sanomat: Soini korkkasi tölkin irlantilaisolutta, th 14 of June 2008, p. B1. 103 Hannu Hänninen: Irlannin kansanäänestys jännittää th myös urheiluväkeä, Helsingin Sanomat, 11 of June 2008, p. B12. 104 Tapio Raunio: EU ei ole koskaan ollut kriisissä, Suomen th Kuvalehti, 19 of June 2008.
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(and especially for the large coalition against the treaty, composed of left-wing parties – LCR 108, LO 109, PC 110 – and nationalist movements – MPF 111, FN 112) this reaction is more proof of the elite’s unwillingness to listen to the people’s opinion. They underlined the fact that French and Dutch people had rejected the Constitutional Treaty, leading to the design of a very similar one. Now that another country has rejected the new treaty, governments are still trying to push it through by any means, symbolising the Union’s lack of democracy. 113 The political class is divided about what to do next. As mentioned before, Nicolas Sarkozy and most right wing politicians advocate for the pursuit of the ratification process, which could be followed by special negotiations with Ireland. As underlined by the State Secretary for European Affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, special conditions for this country could be found, even though the President stands 114 strongly against a ‘two-speed’ Europe. In his latest speech before the European Parliament, in Strasbourg (July 10th 2008), Nicolas Sarkozy said that he wanted to propose a solution before the end of the French Presidency, in October or December, stressing that there is no alternative to the Lisbon Treaty. For François Hollande (Socialist Party), a solution cannot be found without rethinking EU policies. He considers that Europe is not being criticised in France because of its main project, but because it does not meet citizens’ expectations. Instead of trying to change the treaty once again, the French Presidency should therefore focus on promoting new European policies, corresponding to citizens’ 115 preoccupations. French public opinion is also divided about the results of this Irish referendum and the next steps to be taken. In an opinion poll commissioned by “Le Figaro” from “OpinionWay”, 37 percent are satisfied with the Irish vote, whereas 33 percent are unsatisfied and 30 percent indifferent. According to another recent poll, 44 percent of French citizens think that Irish people will have to vote
108 109

again on a revised project that would correspond to their wishes. 26 percent think that the ratification process should continue without Ireland, and only 24 percent think that the treaty should be definitely abandoned. The main conclusion of this poll is that Ireland alone cannot block the EU. 116 Short and long term implications. Beyond the institutional issues, rethinking the political processes The Irish ‘No’ could lead the EU into a new crisis and open another period of uncertainty. There is no doubt that this will bring negative consequences, as underlined by the French MEP (and one of the advisors to Nicolas Sarkozy on European issues) Alain Lamassoure; without the Lisbon Treaty ratification, “not only will the EU unable to catch up the decade lost in reaching its objectives, but it will also lose ten years 117 more” One of the main short-term issues concerning the organisation of the next European parliamentary elections that are meant to take place in 2009 is how to organise elections without knowing if the numbers of MEPs should be 751 (Lisbon Treaty) or 732 (Nice Treaty). 118 Another short-term institutional question deals with the size of the next college of commissioners. The Lisbon Treaty provided for a college of 18 commissioners in 2014. As noted in “Libération”, since the Lisbon Treaty cannot enter into force, the European Commission reform will be based on the Treaty of Nice, which provides for a reduction of the European Commission’s size in 2009 but does not fix any specified number of commissioners. 119 Hubert Védrine, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, assumes conversely that the EU now needs to act and get out of the institutional obsession. 120 It must express a clear common will on certain policy priorities: energy, environment, strategy towards emerging countries, etc. With a slightly different approach, EU expert Renaud Dehousse, professor at Sciences Po, argues that the “first emergency is not to move too fast”, and to
“Vivavoice” for Libération, 25/06/2008. La Tribune: La France prend en main l’avenir du Traité de Lisbonne, 25/06/2008. 118 Le Monde: Incertitude sur les prochaines élections européennes, 21/06/2008. 119 Libération, 19/07/2008. 120 Hubert Védrine: L’Europe après le non irlandais, 20/06/2008.
117 116

Ligue communiste révolutionnaire. Lutte Ouvrière. 110 Parti communiste Français 111 Mouvement pour la France. 112 Front national.
113

http://www.plumedepresse.com/spip.php?article250 access: 29/08/2008). 114 Interview to the newspaper 20 Minutes, available under: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/ (last access: 29/08/2008). 115 Le Figaro: Irlande: les socialistes évitent de polémiquer entre eux, 15/06/2008.

See: (last

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continue with the ratification process and think about the idea of adopting these reforms piece by piece. 121 In the long run, it could initially have consequences for the enlargement process as well. As underlined by Nicolas Sarkozy, “to be able to open to the Balkans, to Croatia, we need the Lisbon Treaty. If we want the enlargement, and we want the enlargement, we need new institutions”, he declared, being totally opposed to further enlargement without a new treaty. 122 More precisely, the failure of the Lisbon Treaty reopens the debate on how to facilitate the deepening and the widening of the European Union. Secondly, as the former President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, has recently emphasised, the Irish ‘No’ vote raises a fundamental question left unanswered thus far: can a single state, whatever its size, oppose the deepening of cooperation? 123 Finding an appropriate answer to this question appears to be crucial for Europe’s future.

court, claiming that the Lisbon Treaty would be inconsistent with the German constitution. The German government is, however, convinced that this is not the case and expects a positive verdict, 125 stressing that Köhler’s decision is a “normal procedure” 126 that does not imply any negative statement by Köhler himself. Correspondingly, other political actors emphasise that the decision does not confirm the position of the claimants. 127 Hence, the delay of the German ratification process is not comparable to the situation in Poland and the Czech Republic, where rather eurosceptic presidents in both countries announced not to sign the Lisbon Treaty. 128 Continue the ratification process The outcome of the Irish referendum has been regretted by most actors. Media representatives called the results a “Black Friday for Europe” 129. With the exception of the Left Party, all governing and opposition parties demanded the continuation of the ratification process and came to the rapid conclusion 130,
Cf. Frank-Walter Steinmeier in an interview with the newspaper “Bild”: Steinmeier: An Lissabon-Vertrag festhalten, 2 July 2008, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/nn_1500/Content/DE/Inter view/2008/07/2008-07-02-interview-steinmeier-bild.html (last access: 14 July 2008). 126 Cited according to: Der Tagespiegel: Köhlers “Nein” bremst EU-Express, 1 July 2008, available at: http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/international/Europaeisc he-Union-EU-Refomvertrag;art123,2563243 (last access: 15 July 2008). 127 Cf. e.g. Rainder Steenblock (Green Party), according to FocusOnline: Köhler unterzeichnet Gesetz nicht, 30 June 2008, available at: http://www.focus.de/politik/ausland/lissabon-vertragkoehler-unterzeichnet-gesetz-nicht_aid_315010.html (last access: 14 July 2008). See also: Süddeutsche Zeitung: Köhler stoppt EU-Vertrag 30 June 2008, available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/deutschland/artikel/930/1833 59/ (last access: 14 July 2008). 128 Cf. Bernd Riegert: Aufstand der Präsidenten gegen EUReformvertrag?, Deutsche Welle, 1 July 2008, available at: http://www.dwworld.de/dw/article/0,,3453125,00.html?maca=dekalenderblatt_topthema_deutsch-346-rdf (last access: 14 July 2008). 129 Translated by the author. Brigitta Kols: Schwarzer Freitag für Europa, in: Frankfurter Rundschau, 13 June 2008, available at: http://www.fronline.de/in_und_ausland/politik/meinung/kommentare/?e m_cnt=1350777 (last access: 14 July 2008). 130 Cf. e.g. Elmar Brok (CDU): Mitgliedstaaten stehen beim Reformvertrag nach dem irischen Referendum weiter in der Pflicht, press release, 18 June 2008, available at: http://www.cducsu.eu/content/view/5061/4/ (last access: 14 July 2008). See also Jo Leinen (SPD): Eine neue Denkpause ist die falsche Antwort auf das Nein, press release, 16 June 2008, available at: http://www.spdeuropa.de/news-anzeige/news/jo-leinen-eine-neuedenkpause-ist-die-falsche-antwort-auf-dasnein/29/neste/4.html (last access: 14 July 2008).
125

The EU after the Irish referendum

Germany ∗
(Institute for European Politics)

Pressing on with ratification: The German reaction to the Irish ‘No’ Delay of the German ratification process In the aftermath of the Irish referendum, the German government declared their determination to take a leading role in rescuing the Lisbon Treaty, promising to strongly support the French government in their efforts to press on with ratification. 124 However, the government’s plans to serve as a model country were hindered by Federal President Horst Köhler’s decision to suspend the signature of the Lisbon Treaty and to wait for the verdict of the federal constitutional court (“Bundesverfassungsgericht”). The eurosceptic Left Party (“Die Linke”) and the Bavarian CSU deputy, Peter Gauweiler, had appealed to the
Renaud Dehousse, Communication to a seminar organised by IFRI, 09/07/2008. 122 Le Monde: Sarkozy exclut tout élargissement de l’UE sans traité de Lisbonne, 16.06.2008. 123 Jacques Delors: Rebondir, Le Nouvel Observateur, 19/06/2008. ∗ Institute for European Politics. 124 Cf. Government declaration of Chancellor Angela Merkel of 19 June 2008, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Regierungserk laerung/2008/2008-06-19-regierungserkl_C3_A4rungmerkel.html (last access: 14 July 2008).
121

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that the adoption of the treaty is “an absolute necessity” 131. Correspondingly, the “Federation of the German Employers Association” (“BDA”), expressed its hope for a second referendum in Ireland. 132 A public-opinion poll held in the aftermath of the Irish referendum shows that 60 percent of the German population think that member states should go ahead with the treaty’s ratification, whereas only 25 percent would favour a stop of the reform process. 133 While most actors agree that stopping the ratification process is not an option, the consequences drawn from the outcome of the Irish referendum differ. Angela Merkel (CDU), head of the ‘grand coalition’ with Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD), underlines that she is not supporting any further enlargement without the Lisbon Treaty. 134 Bavarian Prime Minister Günther Beckstein, member of the chancellor’s sister party CSU, questions Merkel’s position, demanding that Croatia should be allowed to join quickly. 135 The Social Democrats do not exclude accessions to the EU at all, although they share Merkel’s concerns in principle. 136 The Greens (“Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen”), on the contrary, stress the importance of continuing the accession talks with the candidate countries. 137

The Irish ‘No’ has also reopened the debate about the concept of a ‘Core Europe’. In his first, never later repeated, reaction to the outcome of the Irish referendum, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier declared that “Ireland could opt-out for a while” 138. Merkel, however, made clear that she rejects any plans for such a ‘two-speed Europe’. 139 While this has become the official position of the governing parties, the Liberals (FDP) and some other parliamentarians propose to offer another form of co-operation between the EU and those member states that are hesitating to ratify the treaty, such as Poland. 140 Looking beyond the rhetoric, as a left-wing newspaper comments ironically, the eurozone or the Schengen agreement show that the only reason why there is no ‘two-speed Europe’ is because a ‘multi-speed Europe’ already exists. 141 In addition, academics are convinced that the importance of differentiated integration will increase even further. 142 Due to the failed referendum in Ireland, the German concept of a ‘Europe of citizens’ was
Translated by the author. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, according to: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: „Irland könnte eine Zeit lang aussteigen“, 14 June 2008, available at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub99C3EECA60D84C08AD6B3E60 C4EA807F/Doc~E0AC5F33FAB1141499E9799ACD10AB 3CB~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 14 July 2008). 139 Cf. Government declaration of Chancellor Angela Merkel of 19 June 2008, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Regierungserk laerung/2008/2008-06-19-regierungserkl_C3_A4rungmerkel.html (last access: 14 July 2008). 140 Cf. Silvana Koch-Mehrin in an interview with Deutschlandradio: FDP-Europapolitikerin plädiert für Fortsetzung des Reformprozesses, 21 June 2008, available at: http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/interview_dlf/804732 (last access: 14 July 2008). See also: Guido Westerwelle in the parliamentary debate on Merkel’s government declaration of 19 June 2008, 19 June 2008, Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/169, pp. 17826(B)17828(A), available at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/16/16169.pdf (last access: 14 July 2008); Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Green Party), diverging from the party line, shares the position either: cf. Daniel Cohn Bendit in interview with Der Spiegel: “Alle zwei Wochen diskreditiert irgendein Spinner die EU”, 3 July 2008, available at: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,563726,00.ht ml (last access: 14 July 2008). 141 Cf. Ralph Bollmann: Kontinent der vielen Geschwindigkeiten, in: Tageszeitung, 20 June 2008, available at: http://www.taz.de/1/debatte/kommentar/artikel/1/kontinentder-vielen-geschwindigkeiten (last access: 14 July 2008). 142 Cf. Sarah Seeger: Ursachen und Konsequenzen des irischen Neins zum Vertrag von Lissabon, in: CapPositionen, 14 June 2008, available at: http://www.caplmu.de/aktuell/positionen/2008/irland.php (last access: 14 July 2008).
138

Hans-Gert Pöttering, quoted according to: Bulletin Quotidien Europe No. 9684, 18 June 2008, p. 6. 132 Cf. Dieter Hundt at the press conference of the BDA: EU-Sozialpolitik zukunftsorientiert gestalten, 24 June 2008, available at: http://www.bdaonline.de/www/bdaonline.nsf/id/447D5C0F0B171E23C125 7472004AB29E/$file/DH_PK240608.pdf (last access: 14 July 2008). 133 Cf. n-tv Forsa poll of the 16/17 June 2008, according to: Süddeutsche Zeitung: Deutsche stehen hinter Vertrag von Lissabon, 19 June 2008, available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/deutschland/artikel/886/1813 27 (last access: 14 July 2008). 134 Cf. Angela Merkel at the press conference of the European Council meeting in Brussels, 20 June 2008, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/nn_1516/Content/DE/Mitsc hrift/Pressekonferenzen/2008/06/2008-06-20-merkelsteinmeier.html (last access: 14 July 2008). 135 Cf. Günther Beckstein, according to: Bulletin Quotidien Europe, 1 July 2008, p. 1. 136 Cf. Angelica Schwall-Düren in the parliamentary debate on Merkel’s government declaration of 19 June 2008, See: Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/169, pp. 17828 (B)-17829 (D), available at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/16/16169.pdf (last access: 14 July 2008). 137 Cf. Green Party: JA zu Europa, press release, 19 June 2008, available at: http://www.gruenebundestag.de/cms/europaeische_union/dok/239/239043.ht ml (last access: 14 July 2008).

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reanimated. There is a large consensus among German actors that the EU needs to become more oriented towards the interests of its citizens and that a debate about the future objectives of the European Union is necessary. Guido Westerwelle, chair of the Liberals, points out that, “not only parliaments but – above all – citizens need to be convinced” 143 and Member of the European Parliament Jo Leinen (SPD) emphasises, correspondingly, that the domestic political class should involve more citizens in the European debate. 144 An evaluation of the media debate brings out similar statements: the conservative “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” comments, for instance, that “a public debate on the whole purpose of the EU is overdue.” 145 Alternative proposals Though most actors, as demonstrated above, stress that the ratification process should be continued, it is worth mentioning some other proposals that have come up in the German debate. There are academics who suggest that, if the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty as a whole is not possible, one should examine how to ameliorate efficiency in decision-making and democratic legitimacy through informal 146 Press comments aim in the same reforms. direction, stating that the European Union does not necessarily need a new treaty, but above all the political will to create common policies. 147
Translated by the author. Guido Westerwelle in the parliamentary debate on Merkel’s government declaration of 19 June 2008, Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/169, pp. 17826(B)-17828(A), available at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/16/16169.pdf (last access: 14 July 2008). 144 Cf. Jo Leinen in an interview with Deutschlandradio: EU-Reformvertrag: SPD-Europapolitiker Leinen kritisiert Kaczynski, 1 July 2008, available at: http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/interview _dlf/809781 (last access: 14 July 2008); Jo Leinen/Jan Kreutz: Das irische ‚Nein’ zum Vertrag von Lissabon: Optionen für die Lösung der neuen Krise, in: integration 3/2008, pp. 306311, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/index.php?id=655 (last access: 22 September 2008). 145 Translated by the author. Günther Nonnenmacher: Die Lissabon-Krise, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 1 July 2008, available at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub7FC5BF30C45B402F96E964EF8 CE790E1/Doc~E882C5B23825A4730806F9FFD1476B43 D~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 14 July 2008). 146 Cf. Andreas Maurer/Daniela Schwarzer: Der Schuss vor den Bug, SWP-Aktuell, July 2008, available at: http://www.swpberlin.org/common/get_document.php?asset_id=5110 (last access: 14 July 2008) 147 Cf. Bernd Riegert: Die EU kann auch ohne LissabonVertrag glücklich werden, in: Deutsche Welle, 20 June
143

Some political actors, like German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Green Party), propose to elect the President of the European Council by direct universal suffrage as part of a European election. 148 German philosopher Jürgen Habermas goes even further, proposing to combine the 2009 European elections with a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. According to Habermas, referenda are a necessary corrective in political systems where a government is not confronted with an opposition which could displace it. 149 While Liberals and some ‘dissident’ parliamentarians who also clearly support the Lisbon Treaty show some sympathies for a European referendum since they want to better involve the citizens, the Left Party’s call for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty seems to be part of their strategy to stop the treaty. 150 Thus, the generally eurosceptic Left Party appreciates the Irish decision. 151 Correspondingly, social movements like the non-governmental anti-globalisation organisation “Attac” request an immediate stop of the ratification process, declaring that the EU needs to be re-founded on a social and democratic basis. 152

2008, available at: http://www.dwworld.de/dw/article/0,2144,3426243,00.html (last access: 20 June 2008). See also Alan Posener: Irland „Nein“ ist Chance für Europa, in: Die Welt, 14 June 2008, available at: http://www.welt.de/politik/article2104183/Irlands_Nein_ist_ eine_Chance_fuer_Europa.html (last access: 14 July 2008). 148 Cf. Bulletin Quotidien Europe No. 9684, 18 June 2008, p. 6. 149 Cf. Jürgen Habermas: Verständnis für die Iren, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24 June 2008, available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/ausland/artikel/655/182091 (last access: 14 July 2008). See also Jürgen Habermas: Ein Lob den Iren, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 16 June 2008, available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/ausland/artikel/310/180753 (last access: 14 July 2008). 150 Cf. Lothar Bisky in an interview with Deutschlandfunk, 13 June 2008, available at: http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/interview_dlf/800816/ (last access: 14 July 2008). 151 Cf. speech by Tobias Pflüger at the plenary debate of the European Parliament, 18 June 2008, according to Tobias Pflüger (Left Party): Dieser Vertrag ist tot, press release, 23 June 2008, available at: http://www.pdseuropa.de/dokumente/reden/view_dok_html?zid=3474 (last access: 14 July 2008). 152 Cf. Attac: Lissabon-Vertrag endlich zu Grabe tragen, press release, 18 June 2008, available at: http://www.attac.de/aktuell/neuigkeiten/detailansicht/datum /2008/06/18/lissabon-vertrag-endlich-zu-grabetragen/?cHash=efeae4736d (last access: 14 July 2008).

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The EU after the Irish referendum

Greece

∗

(Greek Centre of European Studies and Research)

Irish ‘No’ ignited political and public debate The Irish ‘No’ over the Reform Treaty has created quite an impression in Greece, both among policy-makers and the public at large. Until the very last days before June 12th, the Irish vote was considered no more than a formality (as Greece was preparing to ratify the treaty with an overwhelming majority in Parliament). When the Irish ‘No’ was seen as a probable outcome, there had been a rather shallow public discussion about future implications and the speculation over the existence of a ‘plan B’. The day after, there was the expected outcry of federalist circles against the Irish as well as dire predictions on their part as to institutional and political consequences of the ‘No’ vote, but voices raised in favour of somehow ‘excluding’ Ireland, were few. Finding a way out from the institutional impasse was viewed mainly as a challenge to the French Presidency. On the other hand, in the press have been opinions interpreting the Irish ‘No’ as an inevitable consequence of the lack of communication of the European elites with wider audiences, as a side-effect of the opacity of the mechanisms constituting ‘Europe’. The mood was more or less close to that prevailing after the French and Dutch rejection of the Constitutional Treaty. In the short-term, the Irish ‘No’ is perceived more as a nuisance and as an impediment to the day-to-day business of the EU (which, with the economic crisis and the oil shock looming charge, is considered to be besieged by important challenges). But the long-term perspectives of European integration – which are seen as more and more hazy – have receded noticeably from public interest in Greece; more lip service is paid than actual public debate taking place over ‘the future of Europe’. A more radical view comes from the ‘left’ party “Synaspismos”: There is a need to recreate the EU; a new institutional approach ‘from the bottom’ is needed, in collaboration with the European Parliament and national parliaments and avoiding another intergovernmental

conference. 153 The Lisbon Treaty as it stands is dead and emphasis should be given to enhanced cooperation and to a concentric circles structure. 154

The EU after the Irish referendum

Hungary

∗

(Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

Importance of continuing ratification process In Hungary the Irish ‘No’ sparked the same old debate between eurosceptics and proEuropeans as in every member state: namely, the former side, highlighted the EU’s internal problems (mainly lack of transparency and ‘too much power in Brussels’), while the latter perceived the outcome of the referendum as a shock (envisioning even the falling apart of the EU or the launch of Europe at several speeds and circles). Beyond this echo in the media it must be underlined that in Hungary all parliamentary parties are pro-European, and have supported the treaty practically th unanimously on December 17 2007 when it was ratified in the parliament. Being the first country to adopt the Lisbon Treaty, Hungary belongs to the majority of member states attaching distinguished importance to the document. On June 16th 2008, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary issued the following statement in connection with the Irish referendum: • Hungary regrets the outcome of the Irish referendum held on 12 June 2008 but fully respects the opinion of the people of Ireland. Nevertheless, almost two thirds of the member states have already ratified the Treaty, Hungary having been the first one. The values and objectives of the Lisbon Treaty still remain important for Hungary and we believe that they are important also for the future of the Union. We believe that Europe should move forward. The present situation has to be discussed by the community of the

•

•

•

∗

Greek Centre of European Studies and Research.

P. Trigasis, in the newspaper ELEFTHEROTYPIA, 15 July 2008. 154 M. Papagiannakis, in the newspaper KATHIMERINI, 22 June 2008. ∗ Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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•

•

• •

member states. Hungary is engaged to participate in these consultations. We are convinced that Ireland and the other member states will jointly find the appropriate political and legal solution. However, we should not rush to early conclusions. We will welcome Ireland’s proposal for the solution. At the same time, the Union should continue to deal with issues affecting our everyday life and respond to actual challenges, e.g. climate change, energy security, rise of food and energy prices, security of citizens, etc. We welcome all the member states that have decided to continue the ratification process. The outcome of the Irish referendum should not affect the current 155 enlargement of the Union.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Italy ∗
(Istituto Affari Internazionali)

Strong will to continue the European integration process Immediately after the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty, the majority of the Italian political class expressed its disappointment for what is considered another failure in the European integration process. In a declaration made on June 13th the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, affirmed that it is inconceivable that “the decision of not much more than half the voters of a country that represents less than 1 percent of the Union’s population can stop the necessary and urgent reform process.” This is the reason why Napolitano thinks that “the ratification process should go on” in order to obtain the 4/5 threshold required for the European Council to make its decisions. 157 Other representatives of the Italian political elite share Napolitano’s view. Among them, Giuliano Amato, former Prime Minister, said that it is not possible to renounce ratification of the treaty because “a very small minority cannot be allowed to decide against the overwhelming majority of European citizens” 158. Other politicians have expressed their opinion on the referendum’s outcome, giving rise to a debate that provoked tension in the government coalition. The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has reaffirmed his desire to proceed with ratification, and reassured European Commission President José Manuel Barroso during his visit to the Italian parliament, that “the Italian parliament 159 The will soon approve the Lisbon Treaty”. president of the lower chamber of the Italian parliament (“Camera dei deputati”), Gianfranco Fini, has added that the ratification will take place before the summer break. 160
Istituto Affari Internazionali. Declaration of President Napolitano on the outcome of the Irish referendum on the ratification of the Lisbon th Treaty, 13 of June 2008, available under: http://www.quirinale.it/Comunicati/Comunicato.asp?id=361 th 55 (last access: 28 of August 2008). 158 th Il Sole 24 ore: Il no dell’Irlanda non può fermarci, 14 of June 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IEREU (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 159 th Il Sole 24 ore: Sì al Trattato entro l’estate, 16 of July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IPMLA (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 160 Ibid.
157 ∗

According to the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kinga Göncz, 156 the result of the Irish referendum must be respected regardless of how discouraging it may be from the Community’s point of view. At the same time, Kinga Göncz stressed the importance of continuing the ratification process in all the remaining member states. She also proposed to offer some time to the Irish political leadership to ‘digest’ the situation and to reflect on possible solutions.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Ireland

∗

(Institute of International and European Affairs)

The Lisbon Treaty referendum dominates the agenda As a result of the referendum in Ireland and the negative outcome, Ireland has entered a period of reflection, during which time the government has undertaken to produce an analysis of the referendum result. This study will be presented to members of the European Council, meeting in October.

See: http://www.mfa.gov.hu/kum/en/bal/actualities/spokesman_ statements/Ir_nepsz_eng_080616.htm (last access: 28 August 2008). 156 See reactions formulated during the official visit of the th Hungarian foreign minister to Sweden on June 17 2008 under: http://www.mfa.gov.hu/kum/en/bal/actualities/visits_and_ev ents/GK_stockholm_eng_080817.htm (last access: 28 August 2008). ∗ Institute of International and European Affairs.

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However, these declarations are the outcome of a confrontation within the government coalition. Components of the “Lega Nord” have not made secret their opposition to the treaty. Among them, Roberto Castelli, undersecretary for infrastructure, affirmed that “the European bureaucrats have been defeated” by the Irish ‘No’. 161 Roberto Calderoli, Minister for Legal Simplification, has demanded a referendum on the treaty in Italy, declaring that his party would campaign in favour of a ‘No’ vote. 162 In any case, after the UK’s ratification, the leader of the “Lega Nord”, Umberto Bossi, affirmed that his party would vote for the Lisbon Treaty, making it possible for the government coalition to reach a common position. 163 On July the 23rd, the Italian senate (“Senato della Republicca”) unanimously approved the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. 164 On that occasion, representatives of the opposition party, “Partito Democratico”, expressed their satisfaction that the treaty would be ratified in the near future since it “will lead to a simplification of the architectural construction of the European Union” 165 and “represents an important step forward in the building of a stronger European Union” 166. Immediately after the vote, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, stated that in this way “Italy confirms its desire for Europe” 167, while in the
La Repubblica: Ue: “No” Irlanda spacca il governo. Il th premier ai ministri: “Preoccupato”,13 of June 2008, available under: http://www.repubblica.it/2008/06/sezioni/esteri/irlandareferendum/polemiche-governo/polemiche-governo.html th (last access: 28 of August 2008). 162 th Il Giornale: Ma questa è l’Europa delle burocrazie, 20 of June 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IGUXX (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 163 Berlusconi: Sì al Trattato UE”. Bossi zittisce i suoi: “Lo th voteremo”, La Repubblica, 19 of June 2008, available under: http://www.repubblica.it/2008/06/sezioni/esteri/irlandareferendum/berlusconi-trattato/berlusconi-trattato.html (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 164 See: http://www.senato.it/notizie/index.htm (last access: th 28 of August 2008). 165 T. Blazina in Discussion and Approval of the law draft n. 759 – Lisbon Treaty Ratification, available under: http://www.senato.it/japp/bgt/showdoc/frame.jsp?tipodoc= th Resaula&leg=16&id=307716 (last access: 28 of August 2008). 166 N. Randazzo in Discussion and Approval of the law draft n. 759 – Lisbon Treaty Ratification, available under: http://www.senato.it/japp/bgt/showdoc/frame.jsp?tipodoc= th Resaula&leg=16&id=307716 (last access: 28 of August 2008). 167 Il Sole 24 ore: Lisbona, dal Senato il primo sì unanime, th 24 of July 2008, available under: http://85.116.228.24/Stampa/utility/imgrs.asp?numart=ISE 1B&numpag=1&tipcod=0&tipimm=0&defimm=1&tipnav=1& th isjpg=S (last access: 28 of August 2008).
161

opinion of the Minister for Communitarian Policies, Andrea Ronchi, “the unanimous vote shows that Italy wants to play a serious and responsible role in Europe” 168. On July 31st, the lower chamber of the Italian parliament has unanimously voted in favour of the ratification. The Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has commented on this result saying that it can be considered as “Italy’s contribution to the relaunch of Europe” 169. In Italy, the post-referendum debate has focussed on possible explanations for the Irish ‘No’ and proposals and prospects for the future of the EU. With regard to the reasons for the negative outcome of the referendum, there is widespread agreement that the Irish people voted against the Lisbon Treaty because they perceive the EU as something distant and actually do not understand its real meaning. However, according to the majority of opinions expressed on this issue, there seems to be something happening that goes beyond the actual outcome of the referendum, since many observers interpreted it as a way to manifest dissatisfaction with domestic politics. Margherita Boniver, a deputy from the party “Popolo delle libertà”, stated that the Irish referendum could be considered an expression of ‘anti-politics’ against the majority of political 170 parties that were in favour of the ‘Yes’ vote. When considered from this point of view, the Irish ‘No’ can be seen as “proof of the incapacity” of the Irish elite that, even if they were in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, they didn’t manage to convince their own public to vote in favour of it. 171 It has also been affirmed that the Irish people’s disaffection with the new treaty is to a large extent created by the European governments themselves, which always speak about the European Union as a “far away entity” in order to “free themselves of

Avvenire: Via libera del Senato al Trattato di Lisbona, th 24 of July 2008, available under: http://85.116.228.24/Stampa/utility/imgrs.asp?numart=ISF 9V&numpag=1&tipcod=0&tipimm=0&defimm=1&tipnav=1& th isjpg=S (last access: 28 of August 2008). 169 Corriere della Sera: Trattato UE, la Camera dà il via st libera, 31 of July 2008, available under: http://www.corriere.it/politica/08_luglio_31/trattato_ue_via_l ibera_camera_540facfa-5eee-11dd-89c2th 00144f02aabc.shtml (last access: 28 of August 2008). 170 th La voce repubblicana: Quei trattati troppo distanti, 18 of June 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IG4DV (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 171 th S. Silvestri: L’Unione al bivio, Affari Internazionali, 16 of June 2008, available under: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=857 (last th access: 28 of August 2008).

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any responsibility for decisions that are difficult or not appreciated”. 172 In order to find a solution to the obstacle represented by the Irish ‘No’, many proposals have been raised in Italy in the last months, not only by members of the political class, but also by members of the academic and research communities. Firstly, there is the possibility of abandoning the Lisbon Treaty without any new proposals on either the issues or the functioning of the EU. However, this solution seems to be the least feasible, not only because it would imply renouncing agreements among the member 173 but also states on some important matters, because it would be ‘political suicide’: the EU27 still works according to a system conceived to manage a six-member community which is no longer sustainable. 174 Secondly, there has been a proposal to modify the Lisbon Treaty or even replace it with a new one, but this idea does not find the approval of Italian observers either. Stefano Silvestri, president of the “Istituto Affari Internazionali”, believes that this solution is not practicable for two main reasons: because it has already failed once and because it is still not clear what kind of changes could make the treaty more attractive for the people. The third proposal is that Ireland could be encouraged to ‘opt out’ – something that has 175 already happened in Europe in the past. However, this solution would raise new difficulties. According to Gianni Bonvicini, vicepresident of the “Istituto Affari Internazionali”, there would be two problems in particular: first, the Lisbon Treaty itself calls for ratification by all 27 member states; moreover, “while it is possible to opt out from some policies or operational mechanisms, it is difficult to imagine an institutional opting out, that is, from the new decisional procedures and the new 176 powers inscribed in the Lisbon Treaty” .
R. Perissich: L’Europa fra Dublino e Lisbona, Affari th Internazionali, 24 of June 2008, available under: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=875 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 173 A. Padoa Schioppa: Dopo il voto irlandese: che fare?, doc. EuropEos 2/2008, July 2008. 174 F. Bindi: Arrivederci Irlanda. E grazie, Affari th Internazionali, 18 of June 2008, available under: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=862 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 175 A. Padoa Schioppa: Dopo il voto irlandese: che fare?, doc. EuropEos 2/2008, July 2008. 176 G. Bonvicini: Dublino vale un Trattato?, Affari th Internazionali, 14 of June 2008, available under:
172

The fourth is the option of creating a strong core of ‘willing and able’ countries that do not feel satisfied with the Nice Treaty and want to go on with the integration process. 177 This ‘federalist core’ would be set up inside the EU, but separately from it, 178 and could possibly be based on a French-German Union. 179 This approach results in a ‘two-speed’ Europe, which has been the centre of a heated debate in Italy. The idea of a Europe in which some countries go ahead with cooperation, while others are left behind has been supported by the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, who has affirmed that a ‘two-speed EU’ is important for our country, since “Italy cannot renounce European immigration and energy policies” and will pursue these policies with those countries that want to take part in 180 President Napolitano seems to share them. this view when he stated that “it is time for a brave choice on the part of those who want the European construction to develop coherently, leaving aside those who – notwithstanding the commitments they have subscribed to – threaten to block it” 181. This seems to be one of the most feasible solutions, even if there have been some objections to it. To cite just one example, Mario Mauro, vice-president of the European Parliament, thinks that, by sustaining a Europe that proceeds at different speeds, we may actually weaken it to the point that it is unable to survive the pressures coming from emerging countries, such as India or China. 182 Therefore, the question that still remains unsolved at the center of this debate is whether a ‘two-speed Europe’ constitutes an
http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=856 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 177 Ibid. 178 th S. Silvestri: L’Unione al bivio, Affari Internazionali, 16 of June 2008, available under: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=857 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 179 G. Bonvicini, Dublino vale un Trattato?, Affari th Internazionali, 14 of June 2008, available under: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=856 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 180 La Stampa: Piano Marshall per la Palestina ma senza rd Hamas, 3 of July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=ILAJ3 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 181 Declaration of the President Napolitano on the outcome of the Irish referendum on the ratification of the Lisbon th Treaty, 13 of June 2008, available under: http://www.quirinale.it/Comunicati/Comunicato.asp?id=361 th 55 (last access: 28 of August 2008). 182 Corriere della Sera: Avanti tutti insieme o non ce la nd faremo a competere domani, 22 of June 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IHKSJ (last th access: 28 of August 2008).

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opportunity for the EU to grow stronger or would the added fragmentation weaken it. Finally, another feasible scenario is that of reaching a higher level of integration through a policy-based approach, that is, the ‘functional approach’ already experimented with in the past, for example the Euro. 183 This implies the promotion of strong initiatives by some governments that are willing to cooperate in important fields, such as defence, energy and the environment. 184 The advantage of such an approach would lie in the fact that, by stressing the importance of the targets, “the decisional procedures would be result-oriented” 185. However, even here there would be some shortcomings. It has been noted that these initiatives may be taken by different groups of countries and that the intergovernmental approach might be preferred to the communitarian one, thus blocking the construction of a more cohesive Europe. 186 This overview shows that in Italy there is a strong will in the political elite and the highest offices of the State to go on with ratification and to promote stronger coordination among those countries willing to continue with the European integration process. The main target for Italy now is to ratify the treaty and keep apace of those countries that have always played a leading role in Europe.

The Irish ‘No’ came more than a month after the Latvian parliament had approved the Lisbon Treaty. On May 8th 2008, 70 deputies voted for the treaty, three voted against it, while one abstained. 187 When the results of the Irish referendum were announced in June, most Latvians reacted with detachment. The topic was certainly covered by the media, but did not spark any heated or wide-ranging debates, even if a few eurosceptics insisted that the Latvian parliament had acted hastily, without adequately consulting the people. The prevailing attitude was an acceptance of the Irish voters’ right to express their opinion. Hardly anyone blamed the Irish for ingratitude to the institution widely considered as having been essentially responsible for Ireland’s economic upswing.
th On June 13 2008 Latvia’s Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš told journalists of the national news agency “LETA” that he respected the Irish voters’ decision and stressed that the explanations for such a decision need to be analysed carefully. He said that the ratification process should continue elsewhere. While not ruling out the possibility that other EU countries might find certain aspects of the Lisbon Treaty problematic, Riekstiņš did not anticipate the Irish refusal to trigger a domino effect elsewhere. Because the Union functions, Riekstiņš does not consider it to be suffering from an institutional crisis; however, in his opinion, the EU clearly needs to be 188 modernised.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Latvia ∗
(Latvian Institute of International Affairs)

The EU after the Irish referendum: Reactions in Latvia The decision of the Irish voters not to endorse the Lisbon Treaty on June 12th 2008 had very minimal repercussions in Latvia, especially since other issues (these will be discussed later) have been of much greater concern to both the Latvian electorate and the politicians throughout 2008.
S. Silvestri: L’Unione al bivio, Affari Internazionali, 16 of June 2008, available under: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=857 (last th access: 28 of August 2008); A. Padoa Schioppa: Dopo il voto irlandese: che fare?, doc. EuropEos 2/2008, July 2008. 184 Ibid. 185 Ibid. 186 th S. Silvestri: L’Unione al bivio, Affari Internazionali, 16 of June 2008, available under: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=857 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). ∗ Latvian Institute of International Affairs.
183 th

By the end of June, the Irish ‘No’ was no longer sufficient material for media headlines in Latvia, nor was it a matter of discussion among the populace. However, for the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreign policy specialists, the Irish ‘No’ remains topical and continues to be discussed. So far, the informal discussions have fostered the crystallisation of certain views and perceptions, including the following: • Had a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty been held in other EU member states, it is highly possible that, just as in Ireland, the majority of voters would not have endorsed it.

Delfi, 8 May 2008, available under: http://www.delfi.lv/archive/index.php?id=20896417 (last access: 23 September 2008). 188 LETA, 13 June 2008.

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• •

The Irish ‘No’, therefore, should be considered as an all-EU problem, rather than merely Ireland’s problem. Proposals envisaging ‘a Europe of several speeds’ as a way out of the dilemma resulting from the Irish ‘No’ are misguided and unacceptable because they will inevitably weaken, rather than strengthen, European unity. Since the source of this information are two very high ranking officials of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who did not wish to be identified, I would prefer not to identify them.

However, the Lisbon Treaty still remains on the agenda in Latvia. Thirteen persons asked the th constitutional court on July 24 2008 to consider the constitutionality of the parliament’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty; they also suggested that according to article 101 of the Latvian constitution, the ratification should have been done via referendum. Owing to the complexity of the question, the constitutional court announced that it will take time until September 24th 2008 to decide how to deal with this issue and only thereafter issue its opinion. 189 As a first step, the court has asked the parliament to explain in writing the juridical basis for its decision and to submit its reply by October 20. 190 It is impossible to predict how the court will decide on the various questions that were raised. Consequently, further speculation on Latvia’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty would seem to be inappropriate at this time.

Kubilius, emphasised that the results of the Irish referendum might have a negative impact on the Lisbon Treaty ratification procedures in other EU member states, first and foremost in the Czech Republic. He claimed to be concerned about the further development of European matters. 191 On the other hand he said that the negative Irish decision cannot be a handicap towards further development of the EU, for its further and deeper integration and enlargement. Both these elements are important to Lithuania. 192 Shortly before the Irish referendum, with a fear that the Irish would vote ‘No’ for the Lisbon Treaty, one of the best know European Parliament members from Lithuania, Justas Vincas Paleckis, 193 declared that in this case 4 million Irish people can prevent 496 million of the EU’s citizens from getting a new and much more powerful engine for the European Union. 194 Some of Lithuania’s politicians did not hide their surprise by stressing that Ireland is one of the EU member states that have profited the most from its membership in the EU. For example, the member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Lithuanian parliament, Emanuelis Zingeris, said he was surprised how Ireland, who had received so much financial support from the EU, could have voted against 195 The chairman of the the Lisbon Treaty. Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Lithuanian parliament, Justinas Karosas, said there should be no panic; it is better to wait for the discussions and proposals. 196 While most of the important Lithuanian politicians and political forces were disappointed about the Irish ‘No’ on the Lisbon Treaty, some Lithuanians demonstrated their support for the Irish decision. For example, a
Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo th žinios, June 18 , 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6bbd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: th August 28 , 2008). 192 Valdas Adamkus: reikia tęsti Lisabonos sutarties ratifikavimą (ratification of the Lisbon treaty should be th continued), News agency ELTA, June 16 , 2008, available under: http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/article.php?id=17409 th 387 (last access: August 28 , 2008). 193 Justas Vincas Paleckis was also an ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to Great Britain and Ireland. 194 Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo th žinios, June 18 , 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6bbd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: th August 28 , 2008). 195 Ibid. 196 Ibid.
191

The EU after the Irish referendum

Lithuania ∗
(Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University)

The results of the Irish referendum – an unpleasant surprise for some Lithuanian politicians The most important Lithuanian politicians declared their concern about the negative results of the Irish referendum. Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Lithuanian parliament (“Seimas”), Andrius
National news agency LETA, 19 August 2008. Delfi, 22 September 2008,available under: http://www.delfi.lv/archive/article.php?id=22011565&categ oryID=193&ndate=1222030800 (last access: 23 September 2008). ∗ Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University.
190 189

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newly created political party ‘Front’, which claims to support the European integration, declared that they congratulate the Irish people who have rejected the Lisbon Treaty, which is distant from the people’s interests and is promoted by both trans-national corporations and bureaucrats. 197 Support for the further ratification of the Lisbon Treaty All major Lithuanian politicians claim that the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty should be continued. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus declared that despite the results of the Irish referendum the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty should be continued. 198 He called the results of the Irish referendum a big puzzle for everybody, and he hopes that Irish politicians will propose a way out of this situation. 199 Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Petras Vaitiekūnas reported: “the history of the EU has proven that we can find solutions even in the most difficult situations. I have no doubt that this time we will also find a solution. We have to continue the Lisbon Treaty ratification procedures” 200. On the other hand, some Lithuanian political scientists have doubts about this possibility. For example, the editor of the magazine “The State”, Darius Varanavičius, doubts if this could give any tangible results except for political pressure on Dublin to organize a second referendum - the possibility which has been rejected by the Irish Prime Minister. 201
Front: FRONTAS sveikina airius, atmetusius elitinę Lisabonos sutartį (FRONT congratulates Irish on the rejection of the elite Lisbon treaty), press release by a th political party FRONT, June 19 , 2008, available under: http://www.elta.lt/zinute_pr.php?inf_id=867680 (last th access: August 28 , 2008). 198 News agency ELTA: V. Adamkus: reikia tęsti Lisabonos sutarties ratifikavimą (V. Adamkus: ratification of the th Lisbon treaty should be continued), June 16 , 2008, available under: http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/article.php?id=17409 th 387 (last access: August 28 , 2008). 199 Dialy Lietuvos rytas: V. Adamkus: Referendumo Airijoje rezultatai - nemenkas galvosūkis (V.Adamkus: results of th the Irish referendum is a serious puzzle), June 13 , 2008, available under: http://www.lietuvosrytas.lt/12133657861212578067-p1-Lietuvos-diena-V-AdamkusReferendumo-Airijoje-rezultatai-nemenkasth galvos%C5%ABkis.htm (last access: August 28 , 2008). 200 Romas Gudaitis: Lietuva vėl liko padlaižė (Lithuania th again was a creep), Daily Vakaro žinios, June 16 , 2008, available under: http://www.vakarozinios.lt/lt/naujienos/lietuva/lietuvos_politi kos_kryzkeles/lietuva_vel_liko_padlaize (last access: th August 28 , 2008). 201 Darius Varanavičius: Airiškas galvosūkis Europos st Sąjungai (Irish puzzle for the European Union), June 21 ,
197

Bad consequences for Lithuania It can be said that there is a common consensus in Lithuania that the results of the Irish referendum can only bring negative consequences for Lithuania. A well-known professor of Vilnius University, Gediminas Vitkus, is paying attention to several possible outcomes if the Lisbon Treaty is not ratified. According to him, these events mean that no further enlargement of the EU and, possibly, no common foreign policy in the future. The good news, according to him, is that the results of Irish referendum will have no impact on the formation of the EU budget. Former chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Lithuanian parliament Vytenis Andriukaitis seconds this opinion. He claims that there is no doubt that the solution 202 will be found in this situation. Another political scientist, Darius Varanavičius, warns that in case Lisbon Treaty fails, a common European energy policy would stay only a declaration (and Lithuania favours a lot a common European energy policy). 203. According to the European Parliament member from Lithuania, Justas Vincas Paleckis, the EU could survive following the Nice Treaty, but then there would be a possibility for a ‘two speed Europe’ to emerge. According to him, different rules already exist – for example Euro and the Schengen area. In these circumstances Ireland would find itself on the ‘slow train’ together with their British neighbours and most of the countries that have th entered the EU after the 20 century. He claims, that Lithuania has always been against a ‘two speed Europe’, because in this instance the weaker states find themselves in a less favourable position. If different rules emerge, Lithuania wants to be on the ‘faster train.’ This has been proven by the Lithuanian attempt to adopt the Euro and our membership in Schengen area, but we might not succeed to

2008, available under: www.geopolitika.lt (last access: th August 28 , 2008). 202 Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo th žinios, June 18 , 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6bbd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: th August 28 , 2008). 203 Darius Varanavičius: Airiškas galvosūkis Europos st Sąjungai (Irish puzzle for the European Union), June 21 , 2008, available under: www.geopolitika.lt (last access: th August 28 , 2008).

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get on that train. 204 Another scenario is highly possible – having lost the referendum Ireland would become totally isolated – if other member states ratify the Lisbon Treaty, then 26 member states would step forward leaving Ireland behind. 205 The leader of the Liberal Union, Artūras Zuokas, claims that the results of the Irish referendum demonstrate to the EU leaders that the people do not understand what their leaders are doing. They indicate that there is a need for a serious discussion on the future of the EU, but this discussion should not be held among the EU leaders, but instead among the EU citizens. And this might be ‘plan B’ 206. Considering the results of the referendum, another European Parliament member from Lithuania, Eugenijus Gentvilas, raises the question whether or not it is worth it to allow the member states to approve such complicated documents, instead of approving only the basic principles of the reform 207.

speakers of the parties voting in favour, the treaty, “does not only reform the functioning of the European Union’s institutions and strengthen democracy, but also enables more efficient joint action. The treaty will also allow the European Union to face challenges relating to globalisation and environment. The member states will therefore be able to take efficient decisions necessary in this field in order to face the challenges of the 21st century” 208. Duncan Roberts from the “Luxembourg News” believes that: “In Luxembourg the parliamentary debate was somewhat milder than can be expected in the British House of Commons when the bill to ratify the treaty comes up for vote.” 209 Ben Fayot, one of the authors of the dead Constitutional Treaty was quoted as follows: “Sadly this is merely a treaty”, acknowledging that the Lisbon Treaty does contain 90 percent of the constitution text anyway. 210 Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker assisted the ratification debate in a “buoyant mood, and did not shun from interjecting with occasional commentary if one of the speakers said something he disagreed with.” 211 Hence he punished his own fellow party members’ divergent opinion on Turkey’s future membership with disdain. The ChristianDemocrat MP Laurent Mosar, a well-known critic of the Juncker-Asselborn European policy, 212 said that Turkey’s membership would pose problems and questioned the validity of a Muslim country joining a union with a mainly Christian population. Mosar’s criticism encountered the strong disapproval of the Prime Minister, but collected applause among most of his fellow CSV 213 MP colleagues. 214 ‘Videant consules.’ Prime Minister Juncker’s ‘friendly press’, the catholic newspaper “Luxemburger Wort” commented on the Prime Minister’s politically
Chambre des deputes: Compte rendu des séances de la Chambre des députés N°40 2008, Ratification du traité de Lisbonne, Ben Fayot, rapporteur. 209 Luxembourg News 252: Parliament approves Treaty of Lisbon, 5.6.2008. 210 Chambre des députés: Compte rendu des séances de la Chambre des députés N°40 2008, Ratification du traité de Lisbonne, Ben Fayot, rapporteur. 211 Luxemburger Wort:Ja, Ja und nochmals ja, 30.5.2008. 212 See also Jean-Marie Majerus: Report for Luxembourg, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (ed.): EU-27 Watch, No. 6, March 2008, Berlin, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-27_Watch_No_6.pdf (last access: 27.08.2008). 213 Chrëschtlech Sozial Vollékspartei. 214 Chambre des deputes: Comptes rendus des séances publiques N°42-43, Luxembourg 2008.
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The EU after the Irish referendum

Luxembourg ∗
(Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman)

Ratification process should be continued Luxembourg parliamentarians approved the Lisbon Treaty with 47 votes in favour of the text of the treaty on May 29th. Three deputies abstained and one voted against the text. The grand duchy thus became the 15th member state to support the treaty. According to the
Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo th žinios, June 18 , 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6bbd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: th August 28 , 2008). 205 Justas Paleckis: Galingesnis variklis ir Airijos referendumas (A more powerful engine and the Irish referendum), Internet news site Bernardinai, June 9th 2008, available under: http://www.bernardinai.lt/index.php?url=articles%2F80168 th (last access: August 28 , 2008). 206 Artūras Zuokas: Europos sąjungos planas (‘Plan B’ of th the European Union), June 14 , 2008, available under: http://www.elt.lt/2008/06/14/europos-sajungos-planasth %E2%80%9Cb%E2%80%9D/ (last access: August 28 , 2008). 207 Agnė Pačkauskaitė: Airiai įpylė cukraus į ES variklį (The Irish have added sugar to the EU engine), Daily Verslo th žinios, June 18 , 2008, available under: http://vz.lt/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=6c26f234-c41b-4e6bbd29-d8d022f0e057&open=sec#continue (last access: th August 28 , 2008). ∗ Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman.
204

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correct words on the treaty: “a treaty which is to bring stability, allowing the European Union to focus much more on political organisation and progress than on its own problems,” with an unwillingly propheticf statement: “This could turn out to wishful thinking on the Prime Minister’s part – victory for the ‘No’ campaign in the Irish referendum on June 12th would see the treaty collapse as the Constitution did three years ago.” 215 Reactions to the Irish ‘No’ The reactions of the Luxembourg political class to the negative referendum in Ireland is related with a feeling of annoyance. The general mood is that Luxembourg has done its homework correctly, as most other European partners have. The general opinion among the political parties represented in the parliament is that the ratification process should continue as it had Nobody can expect from started. 216 Luxembourg, as well as from any other country which had already ratified the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty, to start a third ratification process. 217 Danièle Fonck, the Socialist Party-friendly newspaper’s editor-in-chief, accuses the Irish government of being largely responsible for the negative vote. This government has been unable to fight successfully against the “massive campaign of (European) Union‘s detractors who used false and misleading arguments to obtain victory”. 218 Ben Fayot, a former socialist MEP and member of the Constitutional Convention, now leader of the socialist parliamentary group has no sympathy for the Irish vote. In his eyes “populism and nationalism are the fuels of the Irish ‘No’ vote” 219. This very strong ‘pro Lisbon Treaty’ position is not uncontested on the left. Mil Lorang, responsible for press and information at the largest Luxembourg union, the left-wing OGBL 220, asks his better known party comrade Ben Fayot to have a look at the reasons of the growing euroscepticism. 221 Lorang highlights a fear Luxembourg trade union representatives have expressed ever since the birth of the
Luxemburger Wort: Ja, Ja und nochmals ja, 30.5.2008. Marc Glesener: Weiter mit Lissabon, Luxemburger Wort, 19.6.2008. 217 Ibid. 218 19.6.2008. Danièle Fonck: La gifle, Le Jeudi,19.6.2008. 219 Ben Fayot: Das Nein ist keine Katastrophe, höchstens für die Iren selbst, Tageblatt, 17.6.2008. 220 Onofhängige Gewerkschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg. 221 Mil Lorang: Zum Nein der Iren und wie es weiter gehen soll, Tageblatt, 19.6.2008.
216 215

Schuman Plan, 222 the deterioration of labour conditions for Luxembourg’s working class. The recent judgements taken by the European Court of Justice concerning the Luxembourg government’s transposition of the ‘posted worker’ directive in Luxembourg laws are very disenchanting on this behalf. European Commission attacking the Luxembourg government in court argues that Luxembourg has transposed this directive in a way which is too “friendly towards labour interests” 223. Finally, Luxembourg lost the case and has to rewrite the transposition directive. “Does Bolkestein finally enter by the back door?” 224 This feeling of the Christian-Democrat union LCGB 225, the socialist OGB-L, the trade unions of the neighbouring regions of France, Germany and Belgium and the European Trade Union Congress is denounced at a joint meeting in Luxembourg city. Labour representatives feel “dark times of social Europe” are dawning. 226 Danièle Fonck also regrets that Europe remains a “social dwarf” 227, but she denounces the technocratic influence that most European politicians are submitted to. A European technocracy which just forgets to take into account of the people’s daily problems cannot attract people’s sympathy. 228 Jean-Claude Juncker regrets that the European peoples are not asked the right questions such as: ”Are you in favour of a European research policy? Do you wish a closer European cooperation in climate protection?” 229 Marc Glesener from the catholic “Luxemburger Wort” as most of the other editorialists must admit that there is a growing feeling of euroscepticism motivated by the ever-growing distance between the European decisionmakers and the citizens. This feeling is prone to breed a strong anti-European mood. 230

Jean-Marie Majerus: L’opinion publique luxembourgeoise face à l’idée européenne 1945-1950, Nancy 1984. 223 Georges Bach: Etliches Durcheinder, Transport, 20.6.2008. 224 Luxemburger Wort: Kommt Bolkestein durch die Hintertür?, 1.7.2008. 225 Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtleche Gewerkschafts-Bond. 226 Luxemburger Wort: Kommt Bolkestein durch die Hintertür?, 1.7.2008. 227 Danièle Fonck: La gifle, Le Jeudi, 19.6.2008. 228 RTL Letzebuerg online: carte blanche. Jacques Drescher. Europapolitik: D’Leit hu scho laang verstaan, 9.7.2008, available under: www.rtl.lu (last access: 28.8.2008). 229 Rheinischer Merkur: Jean-Claude Juncker. Man Europäern die richtigen Fragen stellen, 26.6.2008. 230 Marc Glesener: Weiter mit Lissabon,Luxemburger Wort, 19.6.2008.

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There are other voices to be heard, that might sound a little paradoxical. Noël Labell put it this way: “Europe is doing well after the Irish referendum […]. The Irish ‘No’ after the French and the Dutch negative vote in 2005 shows that the people still have the possibility to influence a continental debate. Those who believed that the Irish referendum was just for fun have now lost their illusions” 231. “Thank you Ireland!” exclaims Michel Pauly, Professor of History at the Luxembourg University and editorialist of “Forum”: “The Irish were right to show the red card to the European politicians responsible for the neo-liberal LisbonTreaty”. 232 The tiny Luxembourg Communist Party, an eternal hardcore opponent of any European integration process, cannot hide its joy over the French, Dutch and now Irish referendum results and calls it “Déjà vu”. 233 Expected short-term and long-term implications for the integration process There is not only an Irish crisis but also a Czech, a Polish and a British one according to Jean-Claude Juncker. The British Prime Minister promised to do his best to have the treaty ratified but that was “before the High court got meddled in it” (Juncker). 234 Germany as well as the Czech Republic have constitutional problems to resolve. At the moment of the interview Juncker thought their President would sign the treaty as “he had promised on a meeting on June 10th”. However, in the meantime we know that he has changed his mind. In any case, Juncker is optimistic that 26 countries will ratify the treaty. “The Irish problem persists and I do not believe that we should build Europe without the Irish”. Gavin Barrett, senior lecturer at the law school of Dublin University College, quotes in the “Sunday Business Post” Jean Claude Juncker, the “widely respected Luxembourg Premier” with the following words: ”I am not in favour of a two speed Europe. I would like the European Union to move ahead with 27 member states on board in the same direction having the same ambitions – but if this (becomes) no longer possible we don’t have any choice other 235 than a two-speed Europe”. Asked about the concessions to accord to the Irish, Juncker replies that “they (the Irish) do not know which they should ask for because they already got
Noël Labell: Populaire, Le Quotidien, 19.6.2008. 232 Forum: Danke Irland, July 2008. 233 Zeitung vum letzebuerger Vollek: Déjà vu, 19.6.2008. 234 Tageblatt: entretien exclusif avec le premier ministre sur l’avenir de l’UE et du Luxembourg, 27.6.2008. 235 Sunday Business Post: Eu can leave Ireland behind, 6.7.2008.
231

everything they wanted in the treaty”. There can’t be any modification in the treaty because the other 26 member countries can’t repeat their own ratification procedure. (Juncker). Foreign Affairs Minister Asselborn wants to save the Lisbon Treaty with “smart help” from the Irish: “One can weaken the arguments cited by the opponents: that the neutrality of Ireland would be put in question, that the European Union would interfere with Ireland’s domestic abortion laws and that Dublin’s fiscal sovereignty would be threatened. One could also imagine an explanatory protocol. […] One [other possibility] might be that Ireland could combine the election of the European 236 Parliament with a referendum on Lisbon.” Robert Goebbels, the Luxembourg Socialist MEP and vice-president of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament cannot imagine the Lisbon Treaty being ratified before the European elections in 2009. 237 Goebbels and his party associate Jean Asselborn agree that in this case the Nice Treaty would have to be reconducted. In any case, the reform treaty won’t be ratified before the European elections in June 2009. 238 “We would have two big problems: first, the number of EUcommissioners and second, the number of EU parliamentarians would be reduced” 239. Which country would be ready to give up its desire to have commissioners of its own? These questions must be solved unanimously. There is a general feeling among Luxembourg politicians that again the Union has to preoccupy itself with its internal institutional problems and there will be no time left to solve the real problems of the European people: rising oil and food prices, climate change, etc.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Malta

∗

(Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta)

Ratification process should proceed The outcome of the Irish referendum has been described as very disappointing by the Maltese Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
The German Times: Let’s have solidarity, 8.7.2008. Luxemburger Wort: Verlängerung für Nice, 10.7.2008. Luxemburger Wort: Robert Goebbels: Reformvertrag kaum vor Europawahl 10.7.2008 239 Radio Bayern: Interview with Jean Asselborn, 2. 20.6.2008. ∗ Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta.
237 238 236

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as well as by the new 34 year old leader of the opposition Joseph Muscat (MEP, socialist group). Most pundits in Malta in the political sector and academic area are echoing José Manuel Barroso that the ratification process should proceed, and Ireland should eventually decide upon its future in the EU. Thus while the outcome of the referendum is regarded as a setback the majority believe that the ratification process should proceed nevertheless. Also of direct concern to Malta is the fact that without the Lisbon Treaty, Malta th will not gain its 6 MEP like other small member states in the EU. The government has repeated that while it will respect the Irish outcome, the process of ratification should proceed and then a decision be made on how to continue to proceed. Some pro-EU integration analysts have argued that perhaps the time has come for a two speed Europe to emerge – then once everyone, or at least the majority have ratified the treaty, the Irish can be given another chance to decide on their future. Of major concern is that without the Lisbon Treaty the EU will not be able to function smoothly, which will thus undermine its credibility to conduct an effective and higher-profile foreign policy role in international relations.

disappointment, 240 whilst State Secretary of European Affairs Frans Timmermans spoke of a ‘déja-vu feeling’, referring to the negative outcome of the Dutch constitutional referendum in June 2005. An editorial in De Volkskrant argued that the result of the Irish referendum should be regarded, in the first place, as an expression of the democratic deficit haunting Europe, calling into doubts the possible effects on public legitimacy of the EU, with the cabinet’s decision in fall 2007 not to organise a second referendum on the EU treaty. Interestingly, a representative countrywide opinion poll just after the outcome of the Irish referendum showed that 36 percent of the Dutch 241 population supported the Irish ‘No’. According to the same poll, 56 percent of the Dutch would still favour a (second) national referendum on the treaty, instead of parliamentary ratification. PM: critique on parliamentary ratification ‘shameful’ In general, the cabinet has however, rejected the idea of a European ‘crisis’ and stressed that parliamentary ratification of the treaty in the Netherlands should proceed as foreseen. The second chamber of the Dutch parliament (“Tweede Kamer”) passed the Lisbon Treaty th on June 6 by a wide majority. Following a political discussion in the fall, the two Dutch governing parties had argued it was not necessary to consult the population a second time, after the 2005 referendum on the Constitutional Treaty, as the new Lisbon Treaty should be regarded as a ‘classic’ modification treaty, stripped of its constitutional pretensions and safeguarding national competencies and interests. In Parliament, only the left-wing Socialist Party (SP), the Freedom Party of ‘hard right’ anti-Islam provocateur Geert Wilders and The Party for the Animals, an animal rights party with two seats in the chamber, voted against the Lisbon Treaty. With formal approval in the first chamber th (“Eerste Kamer”) on July 8 , just before summer recess, the Netherlands became the 21st member state to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. Expressing his satisfaction with this result, Prime Minister Balkenende objected quite fiercely to suggestions from the opposition that
Balkenende: Nederland gaat door met ratificatie, Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau, 13 June 2008. 241 31 percent were neutral, 25 percent of the respondents said not to be happy with the Irish ‘No’. Source: public opinion poll by Peil.nl/Maurice de Hond, 14 June 2008.
240

The EU after the Irish referendum

Netherlands

∗

(Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’)

‘Parliamentary ratification should continue’ In line with the conclusions of the European Council meeting in June, just after the Irish ‘No’, the official reaction of the Dutch government to the referendum outcome has been that ratification should continue, whilst the Irish government should be invited to present an analysis of the reasons behind the vote. There is parallel to the studies that the government commissioned just after the Dutch ‘No’ vote to the Constitutional Treaty in 2005, the outcomes of which were subsequently used by the government to broker a package of demands for the re-negotiations of the text leading up to Lisbon. In a first reaction, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende expressed his

∗

Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’.

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the decision not to hold a second referendum would be non-democratic, calling the critique ‘a pity’ and ‘shameful’. 242

possibility for the EU to enlarge any further, thus contradicting both France and Germany. On the 1st of July the President, Lech Kaczyński, in an interview with the daily “Dziennik” said that the ratification of the treaty by Poland was, in current circumstances, pointless. The government reacted immediately and firmly. Prime Minister Tusk called Kaczyński’s declaration unfortunate. “The ratification of the treaty is in the Polish interest. Poland should not be perceived as a country which has problems with the treaty.” 245 Tusk carried on during his press conference by explaining that the behaviour of the Polish President will decrease Poland’s credibility and weaken its hand in negotiations of difficult dossiers under the French Presidency. After the vehement critique from many European capitals and phone conversations with Nicolas Sarkozy, Lech Kaczyński toned down his rhetoric against the Lisbon Treaty. “If the Irish change their mind, not under pressure, but of their own free will, there will not be the slightest obstacle to ratification from the Polish side [...] I will also sign the treaty”, he said on a visit to Georgia. “I had a big role in negotiating this 246 treaty, and I support it”. It has to be said that Kaczyński’s behaviour was motivated largely by internal Polish politics (this was why he pronounced with a delay his negative position referring to the outcome of Irish referendum). President Kaczyński wanted to win oversight over Polish European policy, gain conservative votes for his party “Law and Justice” and put pressure on the government to accept the US missile shield. After strong reactions, the president somewhat surprised by the outcry he had provoked, is on the defensive. The president’s stance was criticized by both the “Civic Platform” and the “Social-democrats”, whose leader Grzegorz Napieralski used his meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister José Rodríguez Zapatero to publicly scold the Polish President. The Polish parliament prepared the resolution that would urge the head of the state to ratify the treaty. Most commentators agree that Kaczyński’s move was unfortunate, although some also wonder why Prime Minister Tusk was ready to declare that the Constitutional Treaty was dead after the French and Dutch referenda and now thinks otherwise. Most Polish politicians, commentators and think-tank experts agree that the referendum in Ireland will be repeated, although it is an option that implies certain costs (decreasing the EU’s credibility). The
245 246

The EU after the Irish referendum

Poland

∗

(Foundation for European Studies - European Institute)

Government and President: divergent viewpoints about Lisbon Treaty Overview The Polish parliament ratified the Lisbon Treaty on the 1st of April 2008 (396 for and only 56 votes against). During the following week the Senate swiftly ratified it. The Polish President Lech Kaczyński has been threatening since mid-March that he would obstruct the ratification unless the government prepared a parliamentary resolution according to which Poland would not withdraw the opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights and forego the ‘Ioannina compromise’. The party “Law and Justice” also wanted a guarantee stipulating that Polish law remained the highest law in the country and that any further transfer of competences to the supranational level would need the approval of the President. After Civic Platform promised to prepare such a resolution the President agreed to drop his reservations concerning the Treaty. After the Irish ‘No’, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, on numerous occasions (during the European Council, the bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Merkel) agreed with the official EU line to continue the ratification process. “The result of the Irish referendum does not have to rule out the chances of its implementation. The EU will find the way out of 243 At the same time the this conundrum.” Prime Minister strongly demanded that the Irish objections were treated seriously and that no one exerted too much pressure on Dublin. “It is the Irish government which has to propose something.” 244 During the June European Council Summit Poland was among those countries which rejected the idea that without the Lisbon Treaty there was no

Elsevier: Kritiek op afblazen referendum beschamend, 7 July 2008. ∗ Foundation for European Studies - European Institute. 243 See: www.euractiv.pl (last access: 13.06.2008). 244 See: http://wiadomosci.wp.pl (last accesss: 13.06.2008).

242

See: http://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl (01.07.2008). Euobserver, 05.07.2008.

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Irish may be placated by some declarations designed to reduce unfounded fears, everyone agrees however, that it is close to impossible to renegotiate the treaty (possibly with the exception of the composition of the European Commission which could be changed in the next Accession Treaty). All serious Polish political forces and commentators reject the option according to which Ireland should be excluded from the EU. Media coverage Although the question of the Lisbon Treaty was present earlier in the media coverage (during the parliamentary debate over ratification of the ratification bill), it enjoyed the increased interest of the media after the announcement of the results of the Irish referendum. The media coverage presented the views of both experts and representatives of major political scene actors. Major public opinion surveys were conducted before the Irish referendum yet they present the public views over the treaty ratification and the treaty itself and we present them shortly alongside the opinions of politicians and experts following the Irish veto. Specialists views Jan Barcz, one of Poland’s leading specialists in EU law, suggested after the failure of the Irish referendum that the ratification process should be continued in other member states, including Poland. At the same time he suggested that the failed ratification is not a tragedy, as the European Union can still work under the current treaties in force, especially taking into account the fact that the EU has some time left before ultimately a reform is needed. The ultimate dates ,when a reform is needed, are either the time of instituting new th European Parliament of the 7 term in 2009 or even 2014, while some of the Lisbon Treaty mechanisms had to be launched in advance. 247 Marek Cichocki, one of former negotiators of the treaty and advisor to the Polish President suggested “today the worst scenario for the EU would be ‘pushing’ the Lisbon Treaty against the moods and opinions in some of the member states” 248. He also stressed that if the referenda had held in other countries, Ireland would not have probably been the only country in which the treaty
European service of the Polish Press Agency: Intervention in the debate over Irish referendum on 20 June 2008, available under: www.europap.com.pl (last access: 01.09.2008). 248 Ibid.
247

ratification was a failure. In the opinion of Cichocki, currently the situation is not dramatic as the union keeps functioning under the provisions of the Nice Treaty. Still – in his view – the union has a serious legitimisation problem that should be dealt with carefully (not only after the Irish, but also previous French and Dutch referenda over Constitutional Treaty) in order to check out what is wrong with the European project if it does not find support and understanding among the Union’s inhabitants. In the view of the experts there is little likelihood that the treaty can be ratified – st as planned – by 1 January 2009, and that this will have consequences for the current activities of the European Union and for the French, Swedish and Czech Presidencies, which will be dominated by the question of what to do with the Lisbon Treaty. 249 Pawel Swieboda, the head of the research centre “demosEuropa” suggested that the failure of the treaty in the referendum has nothing to do with support for the European integration idea, as this remains strong among the Irish. He proposed three scenarios for the future after the Irish ‘No’: 1) continuation of the ratification process and the consequent pressure on Ireland to discuss with the partners its main problems and possibly – after being granted additional guarantees - and possibly repeat the referendum. He adds however that this solution is complicated because after the failed referenda on the Constitutional Treaty in France and the Netherlands the works for the new treaty opened and nobody was forced to change opinion; 2) the second scenario would be to postpone the reform until the emotions calms down and begin the process anew in a more democratic form; 3) the third scenario would be to reform the European Union without changing everything at once – as the core of the problem lies in opening the whole spectrum 250 of the union’s problems together. He added that even if a referendum is not the ideal instrument for the Union’s reform, it should be treated seriously and the ‘Irish problem’ if followed by right conclusions can be perceived one day as a salutary turning point, which will strengthen – instead of blowing up – the European project. Government’s and governing parties’ view Just after the results of the Irish referendum were announced, Prime Minister Donald Tusk proposed that despite the Irish ‘No,’ the treaty
249 250

See: www.eruopap.com.pl (last access: 23.06.2008). Gazeta Wyborcza, 14./15.06.2008, p. 10.

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ratification process should continue. 251 On 16th of June, during joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Gdansk, he advised that the ratification process should be continued despite the Irish veto. 252 On 19th of June, the Prime Minister expressed his criticism against the idea of a ‘two-speed Europe’ and disrespecting Ireland. He claimed for respect for all partners in the Union, regardless of their size and suggested that the union should not undertake any impulsive decisions. He added that the union could still function on the basis of the Nice Treaty – as the treaty was meant to improve the union and not to save it from any disaster. 253 While commenting on the opinion of French President Sarkozy, Prime Minister Tusk opposed the view that without the Lisbon Treaty it would not be possible. 254 Commenting further for newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza”, 255 Prime Minister Tusk expressed his hopes that the union will find a solution for the treaty’s entry into force, however with full respect for the Irish opinion, subtlety and tact. He stressed that the decline of the treaty does not mean the faultiness of the treaty itself. Similar comments came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs who reinforced that the treaty was not opposed by the candidates countries, willing to join the EU. He opposed the opinion that the treaty failure was caused by enlargement, new members or the candidates. He added that from the technical point of view further enlargement is possible without the Lisbon Treaty, by means of accession treaties, in case there is still the 256 th political will to enlarge the EU. On June 18 , the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Grażyna Bernatowicz, announced that during the forthcoming summit Poland would advocate the continuation of the ratification process. She suggested that the successful ratification in 26 member states would not necessarily put pressure on Ireland but instead could be an encouragement for Ireland to change its views. The Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs added that the worst solution for the union would be the revival of the attempts of some member states to organise themselves around the
See: www.europap.com.pl, 18.06.2008, (last access: 23.06.2008). 252 See: www.europap.com.pl, 16.06.2008, (last access: 23.06.2008). 253 Ibid. 254 Similar views expressed the Prime Minister already earlier during the press conference with Angela Merkel on th June 16 2008. See: www.eruopap.com.pl (last access: 23.06.2008). 255 Gazeta Wyborcza,14./15.06.2008, p. 10. 256 Ibid.
251

structures of enhanced cooperation, e.g. ‘Euroland’. 257 Mikołaj Dowgielewicz, head of the Office of the Committee for European Integration commented that the European Union was able to overcome greater problems and that the Irish ’No’ does not mean the end of the union’s functioning. Therefore, it would be advisable to act with caution and understanding in order to find a solution enabling Union’s functioning with due consideration of Irish doubts. The basis for that should be – in the view of Dowgielewicz – the careful analysis of the Irish ‘No’ by both the Irish government as well as the European institutions. The union, he adds, should be able to present not only legal solutions but also a political vision to explain the Irish and other European citizens why the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty is important and what would 258 that mean for them. The Marshal of the lower house of the Polish parliament (“Sejm”) hoped that solutions could be found under Irish law or alternatively a compromise solution can be found by the union similarly to the formula of Lisbon Treaty adopted after the failed ratification of the Constitutional Treaty. The Marshal of the the upper house of the Polish parliament (“Senate”) declared his support for the treaty adoption and stressed that the hold-up of the treaty did not came from the new member states. A representative of the “Polish Peasants’ Party”, which is part of the governing coalition, advocated prompt ratification of the treaty by the Polish President so that Poland could be in the nion’s vanguard group in case the ’two259 speed Europe‘ situation occurs. President – countersignature ratification bill question on the

The position of the President of the Republic of Poland has undergone some change since the early reaction until the most recent declarations regarding finalisation of the ratification process.
th 260 the Minister at the On 15 of June Chancellery of the Polish President, Michał Kamiński, announced that the president would

Ibid. Ibid. 259 Stanislaw Zelichowski, MP, quoted in business portal money.pl after Polish Press Agency, available under: www.money.pl (last access: 04.07.2008). 260 Minister Miachal Kamiski on Radio ZET quoted after: www.europap.com.pl (last access: 23.06.2008).
258

257

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countersign the ratification bill after fulfilment of the ‘political agreement’ with the prime minister (See above). 261 The president himself on the 16th of June appealed for respect for the Irish decision so that nothing is imposed on Europe’s nations, being the union of free, sovereign nations and people and that all countries should be treated equally. 262 According to daily “Dziennik” 263, on 20th of June the president declared “he will not hurry” with the countersignature of the ratification bill. The most recent news releases communicate that in a telephone conversation with French President Sarkozy, Polish President Kaczyński declared that Poland would not be an obstacle to the ratification process. 264 Opposition parties The former Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pawel Kowal, current MP of “Law and Justice”, appealed for respect for the Irish decision. 265 On the 22nd of June other members of the party stressed that in their view the situation is analogous to that after the Constitunial Treaty failure, which means that after the defeat of the treaty by Ireland that the treaty is bound to be considered as not ratified and that further works over ratification in other countries would become pointless. 266 Former leader of the “Left Democratic Alliance”, the openly pro-European party, expressed his serious doubt about prompt ratification of the bill by the Polish President. 267 On 19th of June nine Polish MEPs of ALDE and PES group appealed to the president for urgent countersigning of the ratification bill. They stressed that Poland should actively involve in the process aimed at overcoming the post-referendum crisis. The MEPs identified the European Union’s reform process as indispensable, while common foreign and energy policies together with further enlargements as the ones essential for both the EU and Poland. In the same statement they expressed their opposition against the
Safeguard clauses in granting negotiation mandate to Polish delegates to EU institutions in case EU debates over decision-making procedures. 262 President Kaczynski during visit in Lithuania. See: www.europap.com.pl (last access: 23.06.2008). 263 See: www.europap.com.pl. (last access: 23.06.2008). 264 Polish Press Agency, 04.07.2008, quoted after Puls Biznesu website: www.bp.pl (last access:04.07.2008). 265 Ibid. 266 Przemyslaw Gosiewki, MP, former Deputy Prime Minister, on Radio ZET quoted in: www.europap.com.pl (last access: 04.07.2008). 267 Wojciech Olejniczak on Radio ZET, source: http://www.europap.com.pl/.
261

‘two-speed Europe’ concept and stressed that they wished Poland to be among the leaders of European integration. Public opinion The opinion poll by “PBS DGA” on 16th March addressed the question of the desired model of Lisbon Treaty ratification in Poland and the public attitude towards the treaty itself if the treaty had been ratified by referendum and not by parliamentary vote. An equal number of 42 percent of respondents would like to see the referendum and parliamentary ratification with 16 percent undecided. With regards to the hypothetical popular voting: almost 60 percent of the respondents did not know how they would vote, while 36 percent declared voting for, 6 percent would vote against and 3 percent 268 Another provided the answer ‘hard to tell’. 269 poll published in May 2008 indicates that the question of ratification is not very important for public opinion with only 7 percent of respondents declaring high interest in the issues (37 percent of the total number of those interested) and about 60 percent of those not interested. However 55 percent of the interviewees suggested that the Polish President should ratify the document, with 54 percent convinced that ratification of the treaty will contribute to strengthening of cooperation between the member states and improvements in the union’s functioning.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Portugal ∗
(Institute for Strategic and International Studies)

Dropping the Lisbon Treaty or making efforts to save it? The Irish ‘No’ vote in the referendum, naturally, provoked some controversy along the traditional lines. Eurosceptic analysts and parties saw in it, a vindication of their reservations and criticisms, while those favourable to deeper integration pointed to the fact that the EU remains highly popular in Ireland.

PBS DGA for Gazeta Wyborcza, poll, 16.03.2008, available under: www.pbs.dga.pl. (last access: 03.09.2008). 269 Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS): Opinie o traktacie lizbońskim (Public Opinion about the Lisbon Treaty), research communiqué BS/74/2008, May 2008, p. 2, available under: www.cbos.pl (last access: 03.09.2008). ∗ Institute for Strategic and International Studies.

268

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The Portuguese Prime Minister, José Sócrates, argued that the ratification process should go ahead. In this he had the support not only of his own Socialist Party 270, but also of the two main right-wing parties, PSD 271 and CDS-PP 272 respectively a member and a former member of the European People’s Party. At the same time, the Portuguese government was again concerned that Ireland should not feel pushed into a corner, and emphasised, as it did with the difficult case of Poland during the negotiations of the treaty, that in a union everyone has to move forward together. Contradictory, perhaps, political unpractical maybe, but reflecting powerful concerns: on the one hand that the EU should not again be paralysed by institutional discussions and to preserve an achievement of the Portuguese EU-Presidency; while at the same time, safeguarding the principle of the equality of member states. Still, the prevailing tone was given by the statement of the Foreign Minister Luís Amado: “Europe will be ungovernable in two or three years without the Lisbon Treaty” and therefore “everything has to be done to save the Treaty” not excluding a second referendum in Ireland after some further reassurances to the Irish. This is “not at all undemocratic” in his view, because the final say on how to sort things is given to Ireland – a 273 crucial point. The Left Bloc and the Communists predictably have a different view, and both criticised that option as undemocratic, in line with their traditional critique of European integration as elitist and capitalistic. A Left Bloc MEP Miguel Portas declared his satisfaction with the Irish people that “expressed the will of all the people in Europe that could not vote” in rejection of these “authoritarian solutions”, and stated 274 conclusively “The Lisbon Treaty is dead”. However, he then went on, on his own initiative, to suggest that the most democratic way forward would be for the Council to give constitutional powers to the new European Parliament to be elected in 2009, so that it could make a proposal to get out of the crisis, this could mean going back to “the Constitution or the Constitutional Treaty, to revise the Lisbon Treaty, to negotiate a new Treaty among the governments, or to get out of the
Partido Socialisto (PS). Portido Social Democrata (PSD). 272 Centro Democrático Social-Partido Popular (CDS-PP). 273 Público: Portugal quer evitar um cenário de incerteza, 10.06.2008. 274 Miguel Portas: Tratado de Lisboa Morreu, available under: http://www.esquerda.net (site of Left Bloc) (last access: 13.06.2008).
271 270

Union”; then the proposal approved by the European Parliament would still have to be approved by the European Council but would have been debated and legitimised by the European elections. How this would satisfy the Irish, be intrinsically more democratic than ratification in national parliaments, or work in practice given the number and diversity of MEPs involved was not made clear. Still it is an interesting idea, and a sign of some change of attitudes in these parties, at least by those 275 most involved in European institutions. One of the most influential political analysts, and one of the few to openly advocate eurosceptic positions on the “right” – a senior figure of PSD, José Pacheco Pereira – argued in his widely read weblog that “all doors are open” after the Irish ‘No’. The problem was that these reforms basically resulted from France and Germany wishing to have more voting power. Smaller countries, like Ireland but also Portugal, had every interest in maintaining the norm of unanimity for most decisions. So he 276 welcomed Irish courage in voting ‘No’. A contrasting view also from the ‘right’ comes from another influential commentator, currently an advisor to President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso – João Marques de Almeida. He argues that “Brussels”, i.e. the institutions of the EU proper, cannot be blamed for the ‘No’ vote in Ireland, where, actually, the EU remains extremely popular. Moreover, the treaty is not an obscure text because of an elitist plot to deceive the people, but merely as the result of a negotiated compromise, of an effort to respect the concerns of different member states, otherwise a simple treaty could have been easily written by the European Commission. Almeida claims that national referendums on European treaties suffer from a basic flaw: many hundreds of millions of those concerned are not nationals and therefore cannot vote. Now is time for governments but also for people in member States to face their responsibilities and decide what they want. He concludes that keeping the status quo is not an option – Nice was not made to last. And warns that if the EU is not allowed to become more effective globally, the
Miguel Portas: Réplica a Vital Moreira, available under: http://www.miguelportas.net/blog/?p=384#more-384 (last access: 20.06.2008). 276 José Pacheco Pereira: A Europa tem todas as saídas, available under: http://abrupto.blogspot.com/2008/06/coisas-da-sbadoeuropa-tem-todas-as.html (last access: 20.06.08) also available under: www.sabado.pt (last access: 20.06.2008).
275

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trend for bigger European states to move on with their new ‘concert of powers’, giving little say to medium and small states, will probably become overwhelming, and will be very negative for the interests of countries like Portugal, and indeed Ireland. 277 These two views synthesise well the main themes of the ongoing debate in Portugal. Those of a more sceptical inclination will tend to emphasise how the results of the Irish referendum show that the EU has gone too far, not least too far away from the people, that all attempts to unify Europe against the will of the people have failed, and that many good ad hoc options exist. 278 Those of a more proEuropean bent will tend to argue that there might be justified treaty fatigue, that Ireland is naturally free to make its choice, but so are other member states, and one more treaty is needed before Europe can focus on more important matters, or the alternative will be to move on with some kind of core Europe. 279 The prevailing view, certainly within the dominant parties and the most influential analysts, is that the ideal situation would be for Ireland to accept a few additional guarantees, without any additional changes in the text of the Treaty that would open a Pandora’s box of endless re-negotiations of previous compromises. If this does not work then the EU would enter uncharted waters adding to the uncertainty of the current global crisis. In terms of the wider public, there is a widespread feeling of fatigue with these institutional discussions and a concern that the EU should deal with very serious economic and social challenges having a major impact on their quality of life. But it is unclear whether this will move public opinion towards favouring dropping the Lisbon Treaty or making one final effort to save it.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Romania ∗
(European Institute of Romania)

Wide span of “judgments”, absence of official views on mending ways The first official reaction following the announcement of the disappointing result of the Irish referendum came on June 13th 2008, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister (and former Romanian permanent representative to the EU) Lazăr Comănescu stated that it was “the option of the Irish electorate and has to be respected as such”, while also expressing his trust that “as shown in other moments, the member states together will find the best way for continuing the consolidation of the European construction” 280. Somewhat more surprisingly, the positions subsequently expressed by other top-level Romanian officials were equally optimistic and deprived of concrete suggestions as to the solutions available for breaking the deadlock. Before leaving for the Summer European Council on June 19th, President Traian Băsescu declared to the press that he does not see the situation engendered by the Irish rejection as a “crisis”, but merely a “difficulty”, and expressed his belief that the European Summit will “find solutions in order for the Lisbon Treaty to enter into force before the European Parliament elections of June 2009”. Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu’s remarks on the subject sounded slightly more concerned. He first briefly touched upon the issue at the opening of the Cabinet meeting of th June 18 , stating that “the Lisbon Treaty should not be abandoned” and elaborated a bit more two days later, at the end of the meeting of the European Liberals (ALDE), when he acknowledged that the decision of the Irish people generates a “complicated and delicate situation”, before going on to state his hope that the Irish government will come with solutions for overcoming this stalemate. 281 A common feature of all the statements coming from the highest-level official circles is the absence of any concrete suggestion or proposal concerning the ways by which the situation created by the Irish ‘No’ vote can be unblocked.

João Marques de Almeida: 19 ‘Sims’, Diário Económico Online, available under: http://diarioeconomico.sapo.pt/edicion/diarioeconomico/opi nion/columnistas/pt/desarrollo/1137891.html (last access: 06.07.2008). 278 From the ‚far left’ see Baptista-Bastos: A Europa está doente, Jornal de Negócios, 27.06.2008; from the ‘right’ see José Ribeiro e Castro: A vingança dos paisfundadores, Público, 04.07.2008. 279 Vital Moreira: A oportunidade, Público, 17.06.2008.

277

European Institute of Romania. Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: press release, 13 June 2008. 281 Cotidianul, 21 June 2008.
280

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On the opposition side, the most substantial reaction came from the MEPs representing the Social-Democratic Party (PSD). Unlike the positions summarised above, the statement of the Romanian Social Democrats, issued on June 14th, made some sharp and controversial judgments. Most of them referred to the outcome of the Irish referendum as such, the message of which “cannot be understood and, hence, cannot guide future political actions as long as the arguments for the negative vote had nothing to do with the content and the objectives of the Treaty and, on the other hand, Ireland used to be one of the main beneficiaries of European policies”. Furthermore, it was said that respecting the option of the Irish people “cannot be equated with the defiance (sic!) of the wishes of the 282 Even citizens of the other member states”. more interesting, if not outright provocative, were assessments going beyond the strict Irish context. It was thus mentioned that the episode has demonstrated once again that “direct democracy cannot ensure the progress of the European process”, hence the conclusion that “European integration is a process which has to be led politically by the elected representatives of the European citizens”. Moreover, taking the precedents of the French and Dutch referenda as arguments, the Romanian Social Democratic MEPs drew the conclusion that “the attempt to integrate ambiguous popular wishes in the European treaties only leads to documents even more difficult to understand by European citizens and more distant from their genuine European expectations”. This analysis was completed with concrete solution proposals fully coherent with its content, hence no less prone to controversy: • • a continuation of the ratification process by all member states which have not completed the procedure; a call on the European Council to devise measures allowing for “the European integration process to continue without Ireland”, which might entail the possibility that this country’s relation “with the EU” continues on the basis of an adapted version of the Nice Treaty, while the “countries having ratified the Lisbon Treaty will act on the basis of this Treaty”;

•

the Irish government should organise a new referendum, but this time the “central question” asked should address the option of the Irish people “between staying in the EU in the context of the Lisbon Treaty or exiting the Union”.

Four days later, on the occasion of the European Parliament’s plenum debate devoted to the preparation of the European Council in the aftermath of the Irish referendum, the most prominent member of the Romanian part of the PES group, Adrian Severin, added some interesting perspectives. Drawing a comparison between the reluctance to admit new EU members and the eagerness to accommodate the idiosyncrasies of existing ones, he called it „unproductive and unsustainable to treat the eurosceptics better 283 than the euroenthusiasts”. Echoing the view already expressed in the joint statements of his Romanian fellow members of PES, he went on to state that whereas „the Irish people should take as much time as necessary in order to reflect on its European future”, they ought to „use their own time and not the others’ time”. Therefore, he concluded, „an interim status for Ireland within the EU, letting the European integration progress with fewer states involved, must be considered”. It is difficult to assess to what extent the comprehensive positions expressed above are indicative of the one held by the Romanian Social Democratic Party (PSD) at large. On the one hand, the leadership of the party was too immersed at that time in internal debates (and even feuds) triggered by the outcome of the recent Romanian local elections to take the time for articulating an official party position on this topic. On the other hand, notable Social Democrats made statements pointing in a different direction. Thus, former Prime Minister and PSD top leader, Adrian Nastase, expressed the view that the other member states should have withheld their ratification procedures until after the Irish referendum, because “the very moment that a defection 284 arises, the process becomes meaningless”. The divergence between an absolute deference to the Irish preferences and their almost complete disregard is obvious and very
See: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=//EP//TEXT+CRE+20080618+ITEM002+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN&query=INTERV& detail=3-081 (last access: 22 August 2008). 284 Gardianul, 19 June 2008.
283

See: http://corinacretu.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/europarlame ntarii-psd-despre-referendumul-din-irlanda/ (last access: 22 August 2008).

282

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wide, hence the conclusion that the actual position of PSD is difficult to ascertain at this point in time. In the aftermath of the Irish referendum, the Romanian media carried out numerous discussions and analyses devoted to this subject. Given the difficulty of summarizing such a large number of views, preference was given to those opinions expressed by authors who are both notorious and have a career path that brought them close to the domestic decision-making processes. A very pessimistic account of the vagaries of the Lisbon Treaty’s ratification was given by a columnist of the weekly “Dilema Veche” (and former Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Sever Voinescu. In his view, the negative Irish vote represents the answer given by “one of the most robust democracies of the world” to politicians who are “misleading their electorates […] because they know their projects do not meet the acquiescence of citizens”. Voinescu held the view that nothing was learned by the “European political elite” following the failure of the Constitutional Treaty and, in order to avoid its re-occurrence, recourse was made to a “cheap trick”, ratification by Parliaments alone, that is. The author went on to castigate the “irresponsibility” of those who are pushing for the continuation of the ratification process as if the Irish referendum were a small incident, prone to subsequent correction, and firmly placed himself in the camp of those who think that the “Treaty is dead” and what has to be done is “returning to the drawing table and 285 devising something different”. A similar view, but deprived of the same categorical conclusions, was offered on June 24th in the daily “Cotidianul” by a local political analyst with a long tenure in the Romanian NGO environment, Cristian Parvulescu. While equally laying the blame on the “politicians who destroyed the prestige of Europe”, Parvulescu went on to substantiate this accusation by linking its substance to the contradiction inherent in “emphasising the intergovernmental arsenal and privileging technical aspects, while at the same time attacking Europe on almost any topic simply in order to obtain a larger domestic room for manoeuvre”. His conclusion is that, following three popular ‘Nos’ in three years, the “European machinery 286 […] will be hard to restart”.
285 286

A more balanced view was offered by former Presidential Advisor and current MEP (ALDE group), Renate Weber. 287 While not outright disavowing the referendum as a ratification tool, she made the pertinent remark that the progress of European integration was made possible, among other things, by the courage of visionary leaders to make decisions involving their own countries’ future without popular consultation and sometimes even against the leanings of the public opinion, yet those decisions proved to be beneficial in the long run. Weber further deplored the “stupid lies” (relative to, e.g., abortion and neutrality) which lured the Irish “naysayers” and expressed her belief that, should the Irish people realise “what they lost by voting against, they would themselves ask for a remake of the referendum”. Concerning the potential solutions to the problem raised by the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, Weber strenuously disagreed with the ideas revolving around the exclusion of Ireland from the “mainstream” EU, primarily because of fearing that this would signify the “beginning of the dissolution of the Union”. Finally, a word of criticism was addressed to the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, who belatedly endeavoured on the occasion of the Summer European Council to work for devising a solution, whereas the pre-existence of numerous indications signalling the imminence of a ‘No’ vote should have triggered a more timely mobilisation of the Irish government for the purpose of sketching a ‘Plan B’. Expected consequences Surprisingly, especially against the background of moderate official reactions to the Irish ‘“No’ vote, the most categorical assessment of its implications came from President Traian Băsescu who, in his statement made at the closure of the June European Council, asserted that “for all practical purposes, the Union cannot continue to function on the basis 288 The few arguments of the Nice Treaty”. offered in support, however, do not seem to warrant such a radical conclusion: the fact that it is “extremely difficult” to carry out new elections for the European Parliament since the Lisbon Treaty would have changed the allocation of seats; and, more importantly, the fact that no institutional allowances exist for
See: http://www.hotnews.ro/stiri-opinii-3394934buturuga-irlandeza-carul-uniunii-europene-1.htm (last access: 22 August 2008). 288 See: www.presidency.ro/pdf/date/8900_ro.pdf (last access: 22 August 2008).
287

Dilema Veche, 19 June 2008. Cotidianul, 24 June 2008.

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taking on board new members, such as Croatia or various Western Balkan countries. For Renate Weber (MEP, ALDE group), the Irish referendum will trigger a 2-3 years delay in the ratification process, thus rendering the Lisbon Treaty inapplicable for the election of the future European Parliament and for the designation of the future European Commission. Weber also expressed the view that there might be, in anticipation of the application of the Lisbon Treaty, a “voluntary” implementation of its provisions by the EU Council, in the sense of taking into account the consultative opinion of the European Parliament, in areas where the Lisbon Treaty prescribes the co-decision process, as if it were binding: “a sort of de facto co289 decision”.

The EU after the Irish referendum

Slovenia ∗
(Centre of International Relations)

No stalemate over Enlargement There has been a lot of media and interpolitical group debate about the negative impact that the Irish ‘No’ on the Lisbon Treaty might have had on Slovenian EU-Presidency. The Irish rebuttal without a doubt cast a shadow over the presidency; however it would have had the same effect in the case of any other EU country presiding at the time. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dimitrij Rupel, has expressed his hope that the French Presidency will find a way to solve the quandary 291 Slovenian surrounding the Irish rejection. Prime Minister, Janez Janša, believes that the Irish votes against the Lisbon Treaty are not votes against the EU and that the process of ratification will continue. 292 The President of the Republic, Danilo Türk, sees the Irish refusal as an opportunity for all EU citizens to consider the kind of instrument the EU should be in order to help find the right answers to the world’s challenges in times of globalisation and to encourage people think of the EU as their broadened homeland. 293 Two implications of the Irish ‘No’ can be observed. Firstly, the consequences it has brought about for the incoming French Presidency in relation to its concentration and continuity of policies and processes on the EU political agenda, which touch upon the institution of presidency and extend beyond the French term. Secondly, the possible stalemate the non-ratification of Lisbon Treaty can have on further enlargement of the EU, especially to Western Balkan states. As for the first, the media has noticed that the grandiose plans of the French President Sarkozy (some of them, such as the Mediterranean Union, also watered down in
Centre of International Relations. STA/Delo: Rupel: Slovenija na evropskem in svetovnem zemljevidu (Rupel: Slovenia on the European and World map), 2 July 2008, available at: http://www.delo.si/clanek/63074 (last access: 5 July 2008). 292 RTV Slovenija: Janša: Proces ratifikacije se nadaljuje (Janša: the process of ratification continues), 17 June 2008, available at: http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php?&c_mod=rnews&op=sect ions&func=read&c_menu=38&c_id=176327 (last access: 5 July 2008). 293 STA/Delo: Türk: Ozemeljska razsežnost in mladost države sta naši prednosti (Türk: Territorial extension and youthfulness of the country are our advantages), 24 June 2008, available at: http://www.delo.si/clanek/62624 (last access: 5 July 2008).
291 ∗

The EU after the Irish referendum

Slovakia

∗

(Slovak Foreign Policy Association)

EU still focused on institutional issues The Prime Minister is interested in EU affairs especially in relation to the short-term domestic issues of Slovakia. At the Summit of the European Council on June 19-20, 2008 the Prime Minister Fico expressed his disappointment about the fact that after the unsuccessful Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon the leaders of the EU were still focused on institutional issues “which don’t mean anything for the people” instead of addressing the problems of “unprecedented high prices of 290 The Foreign Ministry oil and groceries”. urged the search for a way out of the crisis. There were no other specific official reactions to the failed Irish referendum. In general, politicians have not anticipated any fundamental consequences for the EU or for Slovakia as a result of the failure to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

See: http://www.hotnews.ro/stiri-opinii-3394934buturuga-irlandeza-carul-uniunii-europene-1.htm (last access: 22 August 2008). ∗ Slovak Foreign Policy Association. 290 TASR, 20.6.2008.

289

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the course of the Slovenian Presidency) risk being overshadowed by the stalemate in the ratification process, not only after the Irish ‘No’, but also after the Polish “cold shower” 294 when the Polish President Lech Kaczyński announced that there is no point for him to sign the ratification bill of the Polish Sejm. However the more sobering view, shared amongst the political elite is that while everybody will be busy solving the Lisbon Treaty, France will freely shape the existing EU to its liking on many of otherwise important issues. As for the second, a special attention in the light of the standstill of the Lisbon Treaty ratification process has been directed towards a possible redefinition of the Western Balkans’ chances in the EU accession process. Despite the French President’s recent statement that Croatia could not adhere to the EU without the ratification of the Lisbon treaty, Slovenian Minister for Foreign Affairs Dimitrij Rupel, 295 affirmed that it can. Slovenian analysts have assessed the ‘panic’ which has arisen among the neighbouring Balkan states after the Irish ‘No’ as unnecessary. Even with the unsuccessful launch of Macedonian EU negotiations, and a well known French presidential incumbent’s scepticism of the EU’s ‘finalité-géographique’, the claims that the EU enlargement will now come to a hold are claimed to be 296 unfounded.

Ireland meant the “worst crisis ever in the EU” 297 and that the integration process was, as a consequence of that, “close to an abyss” 298. Of course, all analysts and most citizens, bearing in mind the unanimity requirement for European treaties ratification among member countries, realised that the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty faced a serious setback and that a new period of political uncertainty – coinciding with the increasing signals of economic crisis – had commenced in Europe. The somewhat deceitful idea that only 862,415 Irish voters had blocked the political will of 500 million people all around Europe was particularly stressed and, as a natural result of this viewpoint, some commentators supported the idea of rethinking unanimity among the member states, blaming it was an unsuitable 299 On the procedure for reforming treaties. other hand, the referendum was also interpreted as a manifestation of the divorce between public opinion and politicians since the five most important Irish parties had recommended supporting the Treaty but yet 53 percent of people voted against. That is to say, EU decision makers and not the particular electorate in Ireland would be guilty for pretending, after the constitutional crisis caused by the French and Dutch referenda in 2005, that they had a solution; an elitist ‘plan B’, called Lisbon Treaty, whose success required to avoid direct popular ratification. Thus, Irish people – who had necessarily to ratify the reform by referendum because of the interpretation of a constitutional clause that the Irish Supreme Court decided in the 1970s – would have just realised the imposture, the non-existent cloth of the EU; perhaps behaving naïvely and inconveniently but nevertheless telling the truth about the current distance of the European integration process and the 300 In fact Spaniards, when asked last citizens. April whether the EU cares about their citizens, also evidenced some frustration believing that the EU does not listen to its citizens, and that it listens only to biggest countries such as France. 301
El País, 14 June 2008. El Mundo, 14 June 2008. 299 For example: Carlos Closa. 2008. After Ireland: Referendum and Unanimity (Elcano Institute ARI, 62/2008), available under: www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Conte nt?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/Elcano_in/Zonas_in/Euro pe/ARI62-2008 (last access: September 30, 2008). 300 José Ignacio Torreblanca, “El emperador desnudo“ [“The naked emperor“, after famous H.C. Andersen’s tale The Emperor's New Clothes], El País, 16 June 2008. 301 See 17th wave of the Barometer of the Elcano Royal Institute (April 2008), available under:
298 297

The EU after the Irish referendum

Spain ∗
(Elcano Royal Institute)

After the Irish referendum The ‘No’ vote in the Irish referendum held last June was generally received with great disappointment among Spanish political elites, mass media and public. The main newspapers’ headlines even highlighted with some overstatement that the results of the voting in
Delo: Francija prevzela vodenje Unije: Slavje v senci poljskega ‘ne’ (France takes over the EU: Celebration in shadow of the Polish ‘no’), 2 July 2008. 295 STA/Dnevnik: Sarkozy meni, da Hrvaška ne more v EU brez Lizbonske pogodbe, Rupel pravi, da lahko (Sarkozy belives Croatia can not enter the EU without the Lisbon treaty, Rupel says it can, 17 June 2008. 296 Ana Ješe: Irski “ne” ne sme vplivati na vključevanje zahodnega Balkana v EU [Irish “no” cannot bare influence on the accession process of the Western Balkans to the EU), online edition of daily “Delo”, 25 June 2008, available at: http://www.delo.si/clanek/62648 (26 June 2008). ∗ Elcano Royal Institute.
294

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Anyhow, the main concern of the Spanish political elites after the Irish negative response was to avoid the domino effect of a chain reaction in other countries which had not yet ratified. The socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who had been re-elected for a second term after the parliamentary elections held last March, rejected any substantial renegotiation of the Treaty or any alteration in its ratification calendar. The Spanish government showed its full support to possible solutions that the following French EU 302 and officially Presidency may propose maintained the objective of an entry into force next January 2009 or, at the latest, before the elections to the European Parliament scheduled for next June 2009. The Spanish lower chamber (Congreso de los Diputados) actually voted the ratification only two weeks after the Irish referendum, on 26 June, and the Senate did it as well on 15 July, thus finishing very fast the Spanish 303 322 parliamentary ratification of the Treaty. out of 350 deputies in the Spanish Congress voted ’Yes’, only 6 voted ’No’, 2 did not vote and 20 were absents. In the Higher Chamber, 232 senators voted for the Treaty and only 6 did it against. 304 Spain, therefore, did not fall in the temptation of postponing the process, even if the government had been previously criticised by the opposition and conservative media for a too early ratification of the Constitutional Treaty at the beginning of 2005 with the direct intervention of the Spanish people in a referendum that became futile some months after, when France and the
www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Baro meteroftheRIElcano (last access: September 30, 2008). 302 See the Prime Minister’s address in the Parliamentary Journal of Debates (Diario de Sesiones del Congreso de los Diputados, IX Legislatura), 18th Plenary Session, 25 June, 2008, Spanish Congress, available under: www.congreso.es/portal/page/portal/Congreso/PopUpCGI ?CMD=VERLST&BASE=puw9&FMT=PUWTXDTS.fmt&D OCS=11&QUERY=%28CDP200806250019.CODI.%29#(Página5) (last access: September 30, 2008). 303 The ratification was published by the Spanish Official Journal (BOE) on July 31st (http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2008/07/31/pdfs/A3291932925.pdf). The parliamentary process was fast indeed if we consider that elections had taken place in mid-March and the Parliament was appointed in April. The Lisbon Treaty ratification bill was the first bill to be presented by the Government in the legislative term 2008-2012 (April 30th) and the entire procedure only lasted three months. 304 The parties who opposed the treaty were the former communist “Izquierda Unida“ and two tiny leftist nationalist parties in Catalonia and Galicia. Despite this huge majority, the Spanish Constitution (art. 93) does not require any qualified majority to ratify European treaties but only absolute majority in both chambers.

Netherlands stopped the ratification. 305 On the one had, the experience of a previous referendum helped the Spanish government to claim that it already enjoyed popular legitimacy to ratify despite the Irish result. On the other hand, the disappointment of having been a premature ratifier of the Constitution in 2005 – with involvement of the citizens in vain –, may have recommended a postponement as Poland, the Czech Republic or Germany have done in a way or another. Nevertheless, the calendar was not altered in Spain. Regarding the possible solutions to the Irish problem, the Prime Minister stated that ”the result of the Irish referendum was certainly not good news, but Spain confronted it with certain clear ideas. The people of Ireland have expressed themselves in a democratic way, which we respect. This is true. However, regardless of any legal considerations on the consequences of the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, Ireland must understand that its ‘No’ to an agreement reached after long and complex negotiations cannot simply halt the desire of the vast majority of member states to move towards a greater degree of integration in order to be in a better position to confront the challenges of the 21st century. This means being aware that we respect the majority opinion of the Irish people, but it also means that the decision of most Europeans of wanting 306 more Europe must also be respected”. Then, he added that it was still possible to move forwards together and that, even it was premature to do it, he had no fear to talk about possible exceptions, different speeds or statuses within the Union, or enhanced cooperation. For his part, Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the conservative Popular Party considered the performance of the Spanish government very disappointing for criticising instead of helping the Irish people but, nonetheless, the Spanish opposition backed the plans of the government to go ahead in Spain and supported that the ratification process had to be continued in all member 307 states.
Referendum was held in 20 February 2005, with a a turnout of 42.32% voters. 76.73% voted “Yes“ and 17.24% “No“. 306 Address by the Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero “In Spain's interest: A Committed Foreign Policy” on 16 June 2008 organised by the Elcano Royal Institute available in English, French and Spanish at: http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/ Content?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/Elcano_in/Zonas_in /Europe/00027 (last access: September 30, 2008). 307 See the address by Mariano Rajoy in the Parliamentary Journal of Debates (Diario de Sesiones del Congreso de los Diputados, IX Legislatura), 18th Plenary Session, 25
305

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Finally, the discussions in Spanish media and among Spanish political actors about the real implications for the EU integration process of the Irish referendum have become progressively realistic and cautious. The Spanish general public, when asked whether they thought that the Irish ’No’ to the Lisbon Treaty was a crisis for the EU, showed division between 51 percent of those who believed it marked the start of a new crisis in the EU, and almost 40 percent disagreeing with this statement. Furthermore, 61 percent believe the ratification process should continue, while only one in four Spaniards think it should stop. At the same time, a majority (57 percent) also think that after the Irish ‘No’, the Treaty should be revised, as was done after the failure of the 308 The Union French and Dutch referendums. is not probably in its worst crisis but the government, the parties, and the experts underline the need of overcoming this uncertainty; thinking not only in Ireland but also in the other countries which have not yet ratified.

a new climate change agreement, stimulating growth, and building a socially fairer Europe. 310 The views on Swedish ratification differ. Urban Ahlin argues that there are reasons to wait. The Polish President’s ‘No’to sign the ratification document and the German decision to let ratification be decided by the constitutional court underline the concerns that exist in Sweden after the verdict in the Laval case, and Sweden should therefore take its time to deliberate on whether it should ratify 311 However, the Swedish the treaty. government in early July decided to continue its process of ratification, Cecilia Malmström stating that, in spite of the Polish and the German decisions, the Swedish procedure, aiming at a decision in the parliament on 20 November, will not be delayed. A continued ratification process is also, she argues, in accordance with what EU heads of state and government agreed on at their recent meeting. 312 As for the continued EU procedure, Swedish government representatives have been vague in their responses, referring to agreements made among the EU leaders. The first reactions from the Minister for EU Affairs, Malmström, and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt were that the primary task would be to find out more from the Irish on how they interpret the result, and thereafter the EU will analyse the result to see how to proceed. The Prime Minister emphasised that this situation has happened before and solutions have been
Socialdemokraterna: Urban Ahlin (s): Irlands nej måste respekteras (The Social Democrats, Urban Ahlin (s): Ireland’s no must be respected), 13 June 2008, available under: http://www.newsdesk.se/pressroom/socialdemokraterna/pr essrelease/view/urban-ahlin-s-irlands-nej-maasterespekteras-222304 (last access: 19 August 2008). 311 Sveriges Radio: Svensk försiktighet kring EU-fördraget (Swedish caution regarding the EU Treaty), 2 July 2008, available under: http://www.sr.se/cgibin/isidorpub/PrinterFriendlyArticle.asp?ProgramID=1630& artikel=2169462 (last access: 19 August 2008). The Laval verdict relates to the decision by the European Court of Justice on 18 December 2007, ruling that actions taken by the Swedish construction trade union were against the EU Posting Directive. The Latvian company Laval erected school buildings in Vaxholm, Sweden, and paid its Latvian employees according to Latvian rates, rather than the higher Swedish ones. The trade unions consider the verdict an attack on existing wage agreements and fear an increased pay dumping in Europe. See: www.euroworkscouncil.net (last access: 19 August 2008); EWC News, No. 4/2007, available under: http://www.ewcnews.com/en042007.htm (last access: 19 August 2008). 312 Ibid.; Regeringskansliet (Government Offices of Sweden): Regeringen fattar beslut om Lissabonfördraget (The Government takes a decision on the Lisbon Treaty), Pressmeddelande (Press release), 3 July 2008.
310

The EU after the Irish referendum

Sweden ∗
(Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

Ratification process continued, opposition divided The view of the government is that the Irish ‘No’ is a setback for the EU, which according to the Minister for EU Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, has accomplished to produce a draft treaty that is open, democratic, more efficient and better than any previous one. 309 Urban Ahlin, foreign policy spokesman for the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, agrees with her, seeing the Lisbon Treaty as better fit for a large Union, thus giving the EU better possibilities than the Nice Treaty to work with the important issues of continued enlargement,

June, 2008, Spanish Congress, available under: www.congreso.es/portal/page/portal/Congreso/PopUpCGI ?CMD=VERLST&BASE=puw9&FMT=PUWTXDTS.fmt&D OCS=11&QUERY=%28CDP200806250019.CODI.%29#(Página5) (last access: September 30, 2008). 308 See 18th wave of the Barometer of the Elcano Royal Institute (June 2008), available under: www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Baro meteroftheRIElcano (last access: September 30, 2008). ∗ Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 309 GT, Expressen: EU-ministern Cecilia Malmström: Ett bakslag för EU (EU Minister Cecilia Malmström: A set-back for the EU), 13 June 2008, available under: http://www.gt.se/1.1198091 (last access: 19 August 2008).

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found. The important thing is not to get stuck in institutional issues once again, since this might lead to a weakening of the Union. 313 The opposition parties interpret the outcome in Ireland and the subsequent reactions as more serious than the government parties. Social Democrat Ahlin emphasises the failure of European politicians to sufficiently well explain the contents of the Lisbon Treaty and its advantages. The concern felt by people in Europe needs to be taken seriously, he claims. 314 Even stronger reactions came from the Left and the Green parties, parties that are generally more critical towards the EU. Members of these parties have accused the government of not respecting the Irish ‘No’. They also see the differences in reactions to the French as compared to the Irish ‘No’ as demonstrating the lack of respect for small countries. Their view is that the Lisbon Treaty has been rejected and this has to be accepted 315 by the European establishment.

remains almost exclusively focused on the closure of the case against the governing AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – Justice and Development Party), and the “Ergenekon” investigation on plots to overthrow the current AKP government. The major point within the limited discussions on the referendum results concerns an emphasis on the indifference of the Turkish public to the Irish ‘No’ vote, which is found to be puzzling by the media, as the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty at the EU level is to have clear repercussions for the EU accession process of Turkey. It is no surprise that the results of the referendum are discussed mainly in relation to EU enlargement and Turkish accession process, as the main axis of the debate on the EU in Turkey is shaped around the relations between the EU and Turkey, rather than the EU’s internal structure, institutions and dynamics. In this respect, there are two distinguishable points of view on the implications of the result of the referendum in Ireland across the Turkish media. Negative perspective

The EU after the Irish referendum

Turkey ∗
(Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University)

Does the Irish ‘No’ affect the accession process? The Irish ‘No’ for the Lisbon Treaty has not created a widespread debate across the Turkish government, opposition, political parties, civil society organisations, press/media and public opinion in light of the weight of the domestic political agenda of the country, which
See GT Expressen: EU-ministern Cecilia Malmström: Ett bakslag för EU (EU Minister Cecilia Malmström: A setback for the EU), 13 June 2008, available under: http://www.gt.se/1.1198091 (last access: 19 August 2008); Dagens Nyheter, 14 June 2008; Statement by Fredrik Reinfeldt, in: Committee on EU Affairs: EU-nämndens stenografiska uppteckningar (stenographic reports of the Committee on EU Affairs), 18 June 2008, pp. 2-5. 314 Socialdemokraterna: Urban Ahlin (s): Irlands nej måste respekteras (The Social Democrats, Urban Ahlin (s): Ireland’s no must be respected), 13 June 2008, available under: http://www.newsdesk.se/pressroom/socialdemokraterna/pr essrelease/view/urban-ahlin-s-irlands-nej-maasterespekteras-222304 (last access: 19 August 2008). 315 See statements by Jacob Johnson (Left Party) and Ulf Holm (Green Party), in: Comitte on EU Affairs: EUnämndens stenografiska uppteckningar (stenographic reports of the Committee on EU Affairs), 18 June 2008, pp. 10-12. ∗ Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University.
313

The ‘negative’ view emphasises that the Irish rejection of the treaty has a significant potential to adversely affect the direction of enlargement negotiations. The statement made by the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Jo Leinen, right after the announcement of the ‘No’ result, that ‘No’ to Lisbon means no to enlargement” attracted significant attention across the Turkish media and public. This implies that the rejection will certainly slow down the enlargement process as the EU has to solve its internal problems and structural reform process in order to concentrate on adding new members. Another figure whose statements were largely reflected in the media was the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, who emphasised that no further enlargement, with the exception of Croatia, would take place if the Lisbon Treaty does not come into force. Significant media coverage of the internal discussions amongst the European heads of state and German Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU) following the ‘No’ result accordingly, confirmed the suspicions of this ‘negative’ camp. French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s suggestion to stop the enlargement process in the light of the ‘No’ vote to reforms, which was carried a step further by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik who

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underlined the exceptional position of Croatia, as well as the call of the CDU/CSU to stop the negotiation process with Turkey, were extensively reported across the Turkish media. The current result, therefore, is widely conceived by the Turkish public as for the benefit of eurosceptics in both the EU and Turkey, especially when coupled with the French EU-Presidency starting from 1 July onwards. Positive perspective A more positive outlook emphasises that the Irish ‘No’ vote creates a fruitful ground for Turkey, as it will lead to a stalemate at the EU level, which would result in a looser integration. This is considered to be to Turkey’s advantage. In this respect, a common point highlighted by the Turkish public is that the Irish rejection of the treaty will drag the EU into a new political crisis, which might increase the number of blocs and divisions in the EU, such as those between the supporters of widening versus deepening, the Union for the Mediterranean versus the Eastern Union, and centralists versus decentralists. Accordingly, these divisions point to the EU’s increasing distance from being a political union; but when the opportunities for Turkey created by these divisions are more carefully considered, the picture that emerges is rather positive. In this heterogeneous structure, if Turkey acts together with the right partners across different fields, it can determine its own negotiation process with the right economic and political 316 partnerships. On the other hand, a rather more informed section of the society, including academic and business circles, conceives the Lisbon Treaty as a way to strengthen the EU. An EU, which solved its institutional problems, is believed to continue successfully the enlargement process and would focus its attention on Turkey. Additionally, it is believed that the Lisbon Treaty would facilitate the decision-making processes in the EU, which faces significant problems in this respect with its 27 individual member states, and would thus pave the way for the integration of new countries. Another point highlighted in this regard is the double majority system to be established with the Lisbon treaty, which would endow Turkey with significant power, with its large population exceeding 70 million, if the country successfully completes its accession
316

process 317. According to this group, therefore, the Irish rejection of the Treaty is disappointing and the EU should find a way to proceed with its reform process.

The EU after the Irish referendum

United Kingdom ∗
(Federal Trust for Education and Research)

Disagreement over reasons for Irish rejection and over a British referendum Throughout the process of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the British parliament, the opposition Conservative Party, together with much of the British press, argued that a referendum should be held for the treaty’s ratification in the United Kingdom. Two premises formed the basis of this argument: first, that the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties were essentially identical, so that the government’s promise to hold a referendum on the former should apply also to the latter; and, second, that the Lisbon Treaty was in any case ‘of constitutional significance’ and therefore needed the direct consent of the electorate. In arguing for ratification by parliament only, the government focused its efforts on countering these two lines of argument. Others speaking out against a referendum were free to rely upon other arguments to make their case; in particular the supposed unsuitability of a treaty of such complexity for a public vote (in contrast to ratification by a representative body elected arguably for precisely such circumstances), and the contention that participants in referendums frequently cast their votes on the basis of demonstrably false information or for reasons unrelated to the question at hand – notably as a ‘protest vote’. In the event, by the time of the Irish referendum, the Lisbon Treaty’s ratification had passed through the House of Commons without a referendum being conceded by the government. For those in the UK favouring a referendum, the Irish vote took on added significance, becoming something of a surrogate for that “denied” the British electorate. In the aftermath of the Irish ‘No’ vote, the responses of British commentators and politicians were consonant with their preexisting attitudes towards the need for a
317

See for example the website www.globalstrateji.org (last access: 26 June 2008).

See the website www.abhaber.com (last access: 13 June 2008). ∗ Federal Trust for Education and Research. page 63 of 293

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referendum, which in turn tended to be products of their underlying attitude towards the treaty itself. According to Will Hutton in the Observer, the referendum’s result was founded upon “lies and disinformation”. 318 The British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, pointed to the prevalence during the referendum campaign of ”vote-no” posters which cited issues of “abortion, tax and conscription”, none of which were impacted by the treaty. Those who in the UK had argued that such a complex treaty was an inappropriate subject for a public vote felt some vindication from an Irish poll held on 6 June, which suggested that a lack of understanding of what the Treaty was about – in spite of a concerted effort on the part of the Irish government to inform the public of its contents – was a significant factor in people’s voting ‘No’. The same poll also identified as a major reason for voting ‘No’ an objection simply to ”being told what to do”. For many opposing the treaty, the myriad motivations for Irish voters’ rejection seemed of little concern once the result was known. For instance, Conservative member of parliament David Heathcoat-Amory characterised the vote as a “a clear democratic decision to reject this 319 dreadful document”. Many other traditionally eurosceptic newspapers and political commentators echoed his anlaysis. By contrast, The “Guardian” newspaper regretted that the Irish government had “let the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty become the hostage of general public discontent”, 320 and “The Economist”, which had been ambivalent about the Lisbon Treaty, concluded that “in truth, the Irish referendum was not a good advertisement for direct democracy”. 321 Quite apart from arguments over the ambiguity of the message from the Irish electorate, other commentators found reason to wonder whether or not it was truly democratic that a margin of 110,000 Irish voters could over-ride
See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/15/eu.ir eland (last access: 22 September 2008). 319 See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article1027313/EU-liars-Labour-said-Lisbon-Treaty-given-ritestoday-theyll-kiss-life.html (last access: 22 September 2008). 320 See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/14/irela nd.eu1 (last access: 22 September 2008). 321 See: http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm? story_id=11579372 (last access: 22 September 2008).
318

the wishes of the democratically-elected governments of 26 other member states. For those agreeing with the “Economist’s” description of the EU as “an intergovernmental organisation that needs a consensus to proceed”, such arguments are bogus. UK’s commentators see dark future for the Lisbon Treaty Political actors and commentators have been eager to express their ”respect” for the result of the Irish referendum, though, thanks to the varied interpretations of the referendum, this entails different responses for different actors. The idea of a second Irish referendum is a central feature of discussion, and explicitly favoured by commentators such as Will 322 (who nonetheless appreciates the Hutton political difficulty in asking the Irish to vote again until the “right result” is achieved), but considered anathema by many other commentators. The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, identified the need for “time for reflection” in Ireland, but even a cautious expression of sentiment such as this is seen by some as paving the way for a second Irish referendum indeed, as being “insulting on so many levels”, according to David Heathcote323 Amory. The UK’s ratification complete, the British government is likely to attempt to keep this new political conundrum an inconspicuous topic in the months to come. Indeed, it has been careful not to call explicitly for any particular response by the European Council to the impasse which is forming. (“What happens now is as clear as peat soil”, read one newspaper editorial 324) For the British government, the treaty remains a domestic political liability, one which has had a great deal of political capital spent on it; capital which might have been spent in vain should the treaty fall. What it is most keen to avoid are calls for the abandonment of the treaty’s ratification, or, worse still, renewed calls for a referendum in the UK.
“[The EU] will have to ask Ireland to resubmit essentially the same treaty for a second referendum early in 2009.” See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/15/eu.ir eland (last access: 22 September 2008). 323 See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article1027313/EU-liars-Labour-said-Lisbon-Treaty-given-ritestoday-theyll-kiss-life.html (last access: 22 September 2008). 324 See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/14/irela nd.eu1 (last access: 22 September 2008).
322

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In the longer term, the lack of a ‘plan B’ is seen in the UK as making very real the prospect that the Lisbon Treaty will not be ratified. For most commentators, this need be no great loss. Among them, some are delighted to herald what they perceive as an obstacle to – even a bulwark against – the formation of a “United States of Europe”, while others see the treaty’s innovations as being worthwhile and desirable (and therefore its abandonment as being regrettable) but not indispensable for the Union’s continued success. Others are more pessimistic. Following the vote, the ”Guardian” newspaper concluded that “[i]n the longer term [...] the prospects of creating a Europe with a strong voice and distinct leadership are darker 325 this morning than they were yesterday.” For some commentators, many (though by no means all) of the treaty’s innovations can legitimately be implemented by other means, such as by incorporation in Croatia’s accession treaty. On their analysis, the future agreement of 27 or 28 governments on specific reforms present in the Lisbon Treaty as part of a larger compromise is an entirely legitimate way to proceed. Those who would deny the legitimacy of such a decision would however be likely to interpret progress along these lines merely as confirming their worst fears about the unyielding emasculation of the nation state by the European project.

See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/14/irela nd.eu1 (last access: 22 September 2008). page 65 of 293

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2
French Presidency and the future of the EU
The French government has already announced the priorities for its Council Presidency: namely, energy/climate, immigration, defence, and the future of the Common Agricultural Policy; but also issues like economic growth and employment, or the Mediterranean Union. • How are these priorities perceived in your country? What are the expectations for the French EU Presidency in your country? Are there any special interests or concerns?

The Lisbon Treaty includes provisions for the new post of a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and for the creation of a European External Action Service. These provisions will affect the institutional architecture and also the external dimension of the EU. • Currently, several options for the establishment of such a European External Action Service are being discussed (e.g. a broad approach including all external relations, or a narrow approach including only the Common Foreign and Security Policy; based in the Commission, or in the Council). Please outline the debate and the preferences in your country as far as the scope of its tasks, its composition, relations with the High Representative, the Commission, etc. are concerned.

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French Presidency and the future of the EU

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Austria ∗
(Austrian Institute of International Affairs)

Belgium ∗
(Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles)

Low expectations for the French EU Presidency The start of the French Council Presidency has been clearly overshadowed by the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty; therefore the expectations have been set rather low. Besides, due to the ups and downs in Austrian politics the media focused rather on the government crisis and other related topics. Therefore the main question discussed in the media was and is how the French President and the Presidency will solve the ongoing or reopened crisis in the EU. Another topic of interest was the issue of the Mediterranean Union, which Sarkozy plans to promote and intense, especially regarding Germany’s role. It has to be said that due to history and the neighbourhood, Germany has been always observed closely. However, the media coverage of the priorities of the French Presidency was low, presented in short articles and rarely commented on. One was made by Austria’s Minister of European and International Affairs Ursula Plassnik, saying that the priorities named by the French Presidency were of great importance, with only one question where there is to be a quite big gap: regarding the issue of nuclear energy, which Austria does not see as an appropriate solution to the energy crisis and is not willing to support. More emphasis should be put on renewable energy solutions. For Austria’s EU parliamentarian from the FPÖ, Andreas Mölzer, the idea of creating a Mediterranean Union was somewhat senseless; in his opinion it would be more promising to engage on the Balkans. The only issue that seemed of special concern from the Austrian point of view was the possibility for former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel becoming President of the European Council. Establishment of Action Service a European External

French Presidency well perceived Expectations for the French Presidency The French Presidency is generally well perceived in Belgium. France is considered as being able to make great achievements, having good diplomacy and being involved in most of the European policies. Moreover, the priorities defined by France are at the heart of citizens’ current concerns and there seems to be a real political will from France to come back to the centre of Europe. So, this presidency is seen in Belgium as more educational and serious than spectacular. However, two elements were often stressed. First, the ‘No’ vote to the referendum in Ireland reduces France’s margin for manoeuvre. Hence, France will have to deal with the consequences of this rejection and has to try to find a solution. The second source of anxiety comes from the French President himself, and his character. He will have to prove he can share the European “culture of compromise”, moderate his style (often seen as brutal or 326 arrogant) and his impatience. On energy and climate matters, expectations are rather high for the French Presidency in Belgium. Belgium is confident that France will make good achievements on energy during its presidency. There was recently a meeting between the Belgian and French Prime Ministers to debate on energy policy and Belgium supported France in its desire to reach an agreement. More specifically, the beginning of a reflection on external energy policy is welcomed in Belgium. Those aspects of energy policy were perceived as rather neglected in comparison with the extensive discussions on internal and environmental aspects. As Belgium is favourable to an indepth analysis of the multi-facetted problem of external energy relations, it hopes common orientations on energy security will emerge at 327 the European level.
Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles. 326 See La Libre Belgique, 30/06/08, available under: www.lalibre.be (last access: 22/07/2008); De Standaard, 01/07/08, available under: www.destandaard.be (last access: 22/07/2008); Le Soir, 30/06/08, 01/07/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 327 Interview with a diplomat from the Belgian Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development cooperation. page 67 of 293
∗

No position papers or comments have been found on these issues.

∗

Austrian Institute of International Affairs.

EU-27 Watch | French Presidency and the future of the EU

Immigration was debated rather late in Belgium, but not directly in relation with the French Presidency. Indeed, the discussions on the directive on “common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals” 328 were difficult. The left-wing parties, trade unions and some NGOs vigorously protested against what they called the ‘outrageous directive’. They think it is too repressive and disproportionate, that it criminalizes immigrants and it undermines the EU norms for human rights. 329 Marie Arena (Socialist) was not satisfied with the directive and acknowledged there were some frictions within the Belgian government. 330 Moreover, the French project of a European pact on immigration is generally seen in Belgium as a new impetus for immigration policy rather than a real innovation. 331 The Prime Minister stated he wishes that France would promote a less restrictive and less repressive approach towards immigration during its presidency. According to him, immigration is indeed an example where an integrated approach is desirable. 332 There was no debate on defence policy related to the French Presidency. The current context, with the negative result of the referendum in Ireland (partly caused by concerns on neutrality) is seen as particularly unfavourable to a EU agreement on defence policy. 333 Neither was agricultural policy much discussed in Belgium during this term. The only element was the recent protest movement of milk producers because of price instability, due to the progressive dismantling of the regulation mechanisms from the Common Agricultural
Commission of the European Communities: Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals, COM (2005) 391 final. 329 See De Standaard, 18/06/08, available under: www.destandaard.be (last access: 22/07/2008); La Libre Belgique, 18/06/08, available under: www.lalibre.be (last access: 22/07/2008) and the following online articles; http://www.avoixautre.be/spip.php?article2060 (last access: 22/07/2008); http://www.papierenpapiers.be/spip.php?article283 (last access: 22/07/2008); http://grappebelgique.be/article.php3?id_article=581, http://www.directivedelahonte.org/ (last access: 22/07/2008). 330 See La Libre Belgique, 20/06/08, available under: www.lalibre.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 331 See La Libre Belgique, 01/07/08, available under: www.lalibre.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 332 See Le Soir, 19/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 333 See La Libre Belgique, 01/07/08, available under: www.lalibre.be (last access: 22/07/2008).
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Policy. 334 But France is considered as having too strong of a national interest to serenely lead the debates on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. 335 Concerning economic growth and employment, no clear relation was made between current debates and the French Presidency. As elsewhere in Europe, people are deeply concerned by the inflation rate and the decrease of their purchasing power. The inflation rate in the Eurozone currently stands at 3.7 percent and in Belgium at 5.8 percent (June), its highest rate in 24 years. However, the Prime Minister is against the French proposal to decrease value-added tax on energy products and would rather favour 336 measures to increase purchasing power. Finally, on the project of a Mediterranean Union, there were few reactions and the media coverage was rather limited and neutral. It mainly stressed the fact that the project is less and less ambitious: it will just be a reactivation of the Euromed Partnership (Barcelona process). But it will include all member states, although there are frictions on the financial support that needs to be found for the 337 project. To conclude, we can say that the French Presidency seems well perceived in Belgium. There are many expectations vis-à-vis the next six months, especially because the French priorities are at the heart of everyday problems of citizens (energy, economy, immigration, employment). But there are two sources of anxiety: uncertainties concerning the consequences of the Irish ‘No’ vote and uncertainties concerning the character of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

See Le Soir, 19/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 335 See Le Soir, 01/07/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 336 See Le Soir, 16/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008); La Libre Belgique 26/06/08, available under: www.lalibre.be (last access: 22/07/2008); De Standaard, 26/06/08, available under: www.destandaard.be (last access: 22/07/2008); Le Vif l’express, 19/06/08, available under: www.levif.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 337 See Le Vif l’express, 01/02/08, available under: www.levif.be (last access: 22/07/2008), La Libre Belgique, 15/03/08, 21/05/08, 01/07/08, available under: www.lalibre.be (last access: 22/07/2008); Le Soir, 14/03/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008).

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Establishment of Action Service

a

European

External

The official point of view of the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs 338 is that the actual external actions of the EU are considered to be consistent and it will be one of the main tasks of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to examine this external consistency of the EU foreign policy. He is globally in favour of a European Foreign Affairs Minister and of a single legal personality that would be given to the EU. The Federal Parliament also thinks that the fusion of the Commissioner for External Affairs and the High Representative, in addition of its task 339 of Vice-President, is globally a good thing, but it fears that a confusion of interests might arise if the domains of the foreign policy and the security and defence policy are attributed to the same person. In addition, this High Representative depends on the unanimity among member states and therefore could do practically nothing if Europe is divided. The Belgian Parliament thus suggests this system should be kept momentarily but that the process should go further and be developed in the future. More specifically, the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs emphasizes the importance of the link between the European External Action Service and the High Representative. It could provide a ‘renewed dynamism’ within the Commission and could reinforce the supranationality of this body, where the Commissioners represent less ‘their’ member 340 In addition, the functioning of the state. Commission it-self might be reorganised by, for example, grouping the Commissioners working on Relex topics, Lisbon topics, etc. The Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs hopes that the scope of the European External Action Service will be “a broad one, along with a strong contribution from a strong Commission”. He believes that, next to the establishment of an External Action Service in Brussels, other main international organizations such as the UN or the IMF would be included in the plans for future deployments abroad. He also thinks
Karel De Gucht: Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Speech given in Dublin at the Irish Institute for External Affairs, 09/10/07. 339 Law project dealing with the Lisbon Treaty, External Relations and Defence Commission, Chamber and Senate, 04/03/08, doc.t 52-955 (Chambre) and 4-568/3 (Sénat). 340 Karel De Gucht: Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Speech given in Dublin at the Irish Institute for External Affairs, 09/10/07.
338

that the External Action Service should become a service provider for the Commission, the High Representative and the President of the European Council. As a result, the latter would only need a small personal secretariat and the President’s office would receive a proper anchoring in the External Action Service. 341 Similarly, the federal Parliament thinks that, even if the development aid still belongs in the domain of the community policy and is executed by its specific Commissioner, this External Action Service should have an independent structure that takes into account the distinct character of the development aid. 342 The Parliament also emphasizes the fact that this domain should clearly remain in the hands of an independent Commissioner and should not be delegated to an adjunct of the High Representative. Concerning the functioning of the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC), a clearer distinction should be made between the ‘general affairs’ and the ‘external relations’. Currently, one should notice that the ‘general affairs’ section has become insignificant. The Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs hopes that the new structure will correct the disproportion between the two sections and that the ‘general affairs’ part will somehow be revived. Nonetheless, he also does not think that a division of the GAERC in two would be an efficient instrument to conduct policy. The Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs also supports the idea of the establishment of ‘EU 343 This idea, launched in liaison groups’. Helsinki in 2005 would consist of the High Representative, the Commission, the presidency and a group of member states that are willing to join their forces for defining a particular foreign policy topic. The advantage of such a group is that, it not only avoids being associated with the existing understanding of a ‘core Europe’ (which is often perceived as excluding member states) 344, but that the
EuroActive: Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel de Gucht gave his backing to the EEAS, 13/05/08. 342 Law project dealing with the Lisbon Treaty, External Relations and Defence Commission, Chamber and Senate, 04/03/08 , doc. 52-955 (Chambre) and 4-568/3 (Sénat). 343 Karel De Gucht: Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Speech given in Dublin at the Irish Institute for External Affairs, 09/10/07. 344 Duke Simon/Keukeleire Stephan: Liaison Groups and EU foreign policy, in: The EU Foreign Service: how to build a more effective common policy, EPC Working Paper No. 28, November 2007, pp. 48-55.
341

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common interest of the EU would be guaranteed by the presence and participation of the EU institutions. Nevertheless, he admits that this formula should be excluded from “crucial and well-established EU foreign policy” domains as the Western Balkans, Middle East, relations with Russia, etc. as well as subjects of major disagreements among member states.

Significant action outside the EU framework can serve as an additional piece of evidence of amicable bilateral relations. A joint declaration on promoting co-operation between the Council of Europe and the “International Organization of the Francophonie” was signed by Bulgaria on May 24th, 2008. 345 While describing France’s takeover of the EUPresidency from Slovenia, Bulgarian journalists stressed the complex situation related to the negative Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the rise in oil prices. Several publications emphasised that since the beginning of the year, Slovenia has had to contend with a stealing of the limelight by France. 346 Major French announcements have often overshadowed news coming from Ljubljana. The declarations of the next presiding country’s officials dominated the media during the first half of 2008. Many experts suggested that important decisions concerning, for instance, the liberalisation of energy markets, were being explicitly left to Paris. Discussion in Bulgaria on the priorities of the French Presidency began with the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy in October 2007. It testified to the intensity of bilateral relations. The two countries headed to a more comprehensive strategic partnership. Bulgaria and France outlined several spheres for cooperation in the EU framework. They have similar stands on the Lisbon Treaty, the Common Agricultural Policy, the development of a single energy market, the future of nuclear power generation, tighter co-operation in defence and on the European Neighbourhood Policy. Sarkozy stressed that France would make no distinction between old and new member states and promised that the presidency would very attentively listen to the problems and demands of Central and Eastern European countries. In the observed period, several official meetings and public events for promoting the plans of the French Presidency are worth mentioning. The visit of the Bulgarian Minister of European Affairs, Gergana Grancharova, to
Bulgarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs: A Joint Declaration on promoting cooperation between the Council of Europe and the International Organisation of the Francophonie was signed th in Strasbourg, May 24 2008, available at: http://www.mfa.bg nd (last access: September 2 2008). 346 nd See: The new clothes of the President, January 22 2008, available at: http://www.dnes.bg (last access: September nd th 2 2008); Six months glory, January 4 2008, available at: nd www.capital.bg (last access: September 2 2008).
345

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Bulgaria ∗
(Bulgarian European Community Studies Association)

Special relations with the presiding member state Carrying out a survey of Bulgaria’s expectations from the French EU-Presidency reveal two fundamental features of the EU debate in this country. On the one hand, it reveals that the country gradually found its way into EU structures, entered the policy-making mechanisms and formulated its national positions in all European matters. Many changes occurred in the perceptions of society and of politicians, and significant steps were made to mobilise public opinion and raise awareness of the rights and responsibilities of Bulgaria as a full-fledged EU member state. On the other hand, this survey makes clear that further serious efforts must be developed. There is still a lack of media analysis on these important topics. Articles published in newspapers and weekly journals are the most descriptive. Bulgarian journalists focus their attention predominantly on presenting factual information in combination with offering of different points of view, but without their own detailed analytical commentary on EU issues. Bulgarian-French relations enjoy a rich history The development of Bulgarian-French relations enjoys a rich history and exceptional dynamics. Common European interests unite the two countries and the partnership between them covers a broad spectrum of issues. The French parliament was the only one to have ratified Bulgaria’s EU Accession Treaty unanimously. As a francophone country, Bulgaria awaits France’s EU-Presidency in the second half of 2008 with high expectations. France is considered to be not just one of the founders of the European Community, but also a state with a long-term vision on the European project.
∗

Bulgarian European Community Studies Association.

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the French capital on March 6th 2008 347 was important to clarify the common interests of the two countries in the EU. Her meeting with Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the French Secretary of State for European Affairs , ranged over a variety of subjects, such as the situation in Kosovo and in the Western Balkan, the EU’s enlargement policy and the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Ivailo Kalfin, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, also visited France and met with his colleague rd 348 Bernard Kouchner on June 3 2008. On his part Georgi Pirinski, chairman of the Bulgarian national assembly, headed a Bulgarian parliamentary delegation on an official visit to Paris. 349 The visit of the Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev in France on July 4th was widely articulated in the media, in view of the fact that it will be the first meeting of Nicolas Sarkozy as French President and Head of State of EU’s presiding country. 350 In parallel to official press releases, which spoke of discussions on the proposed strategic partnership agreement during this visit, the overarching tunes of media coverage of this visit related to the urgent need of the Bulgarian government to secure a positive, or at least moderate, position of the French Presidency on the (then expected) critical report of the European Commission with regard to managing EU funds. Another issue that was tied into the package deal of this official visit was the purchase of French 351 corvettes for the Bulgarian navy. Discussing French priorities The international conference “Spring for Europe” offered a key opportunity to discuss the priorities of the French EU-Presidency. 352
Bulgarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs: Gergana Grancharova: Bulgaria and France have many common interests within the EU, March 6th 2008. 348 Radio Bulgaria: Foreign Minister Kalfin attends business dinner given by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, June 4th 2008; available at: http://www.bnr.bg (last access: September 2nd 2008). 349 Bulgarian Parliament: National Assembly Chairman Georgi Pirinski Paid an Official Visit to the French Republic, May 8th 2008, available at: http://www.parliament.bg (last access: September 2nd 2008). 350 Standard News: Sarcozy Invites PM Stanishev on July 4th”, June 24th 2008, available at: http://paper.standartnews.com/en/article.php?d=2008-0114&article=24280 (last access: September 2nd 2008). 351 Sofia Echo: Bulgaria’s corvette deal with France back on the agenda, June 27th 2008, available at: http://www.sofiaecho.com (last access: September 2nd 2008). 352 Radio Bulgaria: Giscard d’Estaing’s visit to Bulgaria, May 28th 2008, available at: http://www.bnr.bg/RadioBulgaria/Emission_English/ (last
347

The event took place in Sofia on May 27th 2008, and was organized by the “Robert Schuman Foundation” and “Konrad-AdenauerFoundation” and the French and the German embassies in Bulgaria. Former French President, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, was a lead speaker at the forum. The conference was dedicated to the adaptation of Europe to the challenges of the 21st century, the future of the EU and the Lisbon Treaty. Speaking of the upcoming French Presidency, Giscard d’Estaing pointed out that Europe should build up a joint vision and approach to energy. He also called for the speedy adoption of the “Charter on Immigration and Political Asylum” in order to open the Schengen space to all East-European states. The Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty became a key topic for debating the French Presidency in the Bulgarian media. Journalists’ attention was attracted to the question whether or not Ireland’s “No” would derail the priorities of the forthcoming presidency and overshadow France’s ambitious plans. Several publications highlighted that the Irish rejection of the treaty will very likely affect France’s term and break the rhythm in its operations. The adoption of legislation on energy and climate change was confirmed as a key priority for France. Ecology and global warming, diversification and security of energy supplies are crucial points of interest for the EU. On this topic, Bulgaria shares the opinion that the different stages of development of EU member states should be a criterion in allocating the burdens under the ’energy and climate change package’. Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin outlined th on June 25 2008, that Bulgaria is taking on this priority. Noting that France has been supportive of nuclear power for years, he voiced his confidence that the issues of nuclear energy will be discussed more and more in the EU, striking a good balance between energy demands and environmental concerns. 353 The country needs additional financing to overcome the negative consequences of the closing down of units three and four of the “Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant”. According to the Minister of European Affairs Gergana Grancharova, European
access: September 2nd 2008); European diplomats discuss EU’s future at the “Spring for Europe” conference, May 27th 2008; available at: http://www.europa.bg (last access: September 2nd 2008). 353 Sofia Echo: Foreign Minister, ambassador discuss French presidency priorities from Bulgarian angle, June 26th 2008, available at: http://www.sofiaecho.com (last access: September 2nd 2008).

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assistance for this process must continue after 2009 as well. On the other hand, French government representatives declared that their country is ready to take part in the construction of Bulgaria’s second nuclear power plant near Belene. Agriculture will also dominate the agenda of the French Presidency. The selection of the topic is provoked by the emerging debate on the sharp rise of food and agricultural prices on 354 A proposal of the Common global markets. Agriculture Policy’s (CAP) health check 355 was launched as a result. However, the issue is just an aspect of the tricky theme of a more complex reform of the EU’s budget. The Bulgarian media noticed that current developments have strengthened the camp of CAP supporters. France and Germany are against the cuts in farm subsidies, while Britain is regarded as the key critic of the present arrangements in this area, declaring that all elements of the CAP that are designed to keep EU agriculture prices above world market levels should be eliminated. For France, agriculture is a delicate subject because the farmers in the country remain the biggest beneficiaries of direct EU payments. Bulgaria shares the same stand on preserving the current tools of assistance to the agricultural sector and rural development, without losing the prospects for direct payment. France will also put emphasis on the drafting of the “European Migration and Asylum Pact”. The theme was discussed during the working visit of the Bulgarian Interior Minister Mihail th th Mikov, in Paris on June 25 and 26 2008. He had talks with his French colleague, Michèle Alliot-Marie, as well as with the immigration minister Brice Hortefeux about the proposed pact and the introduction of the ‘Blue card’. Bulgaria has a positive attitude to France’s motion for working out such an important document and regards this as a step forward to the building of the European Union’s common migration policy. It also insists on removing restrictions to the free movement of the workforce among EU member states. This topic is of growing importance to Bulgaria as a EU external border state. It has been transformed from an emigrant producing
Econ.bg: Food price spike to hit EU farming review, May 19th 2008, available at: http://www.econ.bg (last access: September 2nd 2008). 355 Radio Bulgaria: Changes in the CAP - responding to new challenges, May 21st 2008, available at: http://www.bnr.bg (last access: September 2nd 2008).
354

country to a country attracting immigrants. In the first year of membership, the number of EU citizens willing to work in Bulgaria grew considerably. The increased foreign interest is an accelerator for policy reform aimed at efficient regulation and monitoring of migration processes. A key objective is to attract foreign nationals to work in the spheres where the Bulgarian labour market experiences shortages. Simultaneously, the prevention of a ‘brain drain’ and the attraction of the Bulgarian emigrants back home, especially in the case of the young qualified workers, is a strategic goal of the state. Twelve of the 27 EU member states have already opened their labour markets to Bulgarian nationals without any restrictions, while the rest of the member states have introduced transition periods. However, the expectations that Bulgarians would flood the EU labour market proved 356 incorrect. The EU’s security and defence policy will also be among the priorities of the French Presidency. Bulgaria’s position suggests that the guiding principle in the field should be stable partnership with NATO and the UN. Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin said that the sustenance of the EU’s defence capacity needed to happen without excessive competition, and in trans-Atlantic dialogue. French plans in the sphere are considered as an intriguing project that will provoke a lot of debate in the forthcoming months. The Bulgarian media emphasised that there are additional fields to be addressed during the period of the forthcoming presidency. Universal access to the Internet is identified as a key target for France. The presiding country should focus on efforts to increase the spread of highspeed Internet across Europe and to boost investment in “Next Generation Access Networks”, the main infrastructure for 357 broadband. Another significant task for the French Presidency will be to broker an agreement on a “Small Business Act” (SBA) for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), considered vital to stimulating Europe’s

Radio Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s migration policy and the free movement of persons within EU, May 27th 2008, available at: http://www.bnr.bg (last access: September 2nd 2008). 357 EU pushes for high-speed internet for all, June 26th 2008, available at: http://www.dnevnik.bg (last access: September 2nd 2008).

356

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competitiveness. 358 The SBA is regarded as an important initiative that should better integrate SME’s interests into European legislation in a horizontal approach. The Bulgarian member of the European Parliament, Nickolay Mladenov, underlined the significance of the forthcoming presidency with regards to the responsibility to reduce administrative burdens to increase SMEs participation in EU programmes and in public procurement, and to reduce obstacles to cross-border trade. 359 France’s programme also includes a special vision for the development of the relations between the EU and its Southern neighbours. Despite the initiatives launched in the last years, the dividing lines between the North and the South haven’t vanished. The French project for a Mediterranean Union provoked bitter disputes among EU member states. 360 Metin Kazak, Bulgarian MEP, considers that it is important for Bulgaria to take active part in developing the plans for a Mediterranean Union. He underscored that the idea for the creation of a parliamentary assembly of the Mediterranean Union, with a separate secretariat and presidency on a rotational principle between the EU member states and the non-EU member states, would also imply enhancing political relations. Commenting on the French plans, the Bulgarian Minister of European Affairs, Gergana Grancharova, declared support for the idea of a Mediterranean Union. In addition, she expressed hope that Black Sea cooperation would also be a strategic issue for France. This topic also appeared in several media publications with special emphasis on the growing importance of the Black Sea region for EU’s energy, transport and trade policy, as well as on its role as the border with major strategic partners like Turkey and Russia. It became apparent that there are misgivings in the area that the French Presidency will overlook or even neglect the Black Sea region to the advantage of the Mediterranean. Concerning the relations with EU neighbours, French officials stressed that it is very important for their country to use the channel of contacts between Russia and Bulgaria,
French Presidency seeks strong ‘Small Business Act’, th June 4 2008, available at: http://www.dnevnik.bg (last nd access: September 2 2008). 359 Meps back French Presidency on SME-friendly approach to legislation, available at: http://www.europe.bg (last nd access: September 2 2008). 360 th Mediterranean Union – yes, but…, 14 March 2008, available at: http://www.dnes.bg (last access: September nd 2 2008).
358

because it is one of the paths to develop EURussian ties. 361 In the context of enlargement, Turkey’s EU accession is a thorny issue. Bulgarian journalists drew attention to the statement of the French Secretary of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet that his country would not seek to block the negotiation process. On the other hand, some authors commented that the project to establish a Union for the Mediterranean might in fact be a 362 ‘trap’ to divert Turkish EU aspirations. Bulgaria holds the position, in principle, to support Turkey’s EU membership. According to government representatives, a positive signal from Paris is the best factor for the reforms in Turkey to continue. The French EU-Presidency is of utmost importance for Bulgaria, because its launch coincides with the European Commission’s monitoring report on the country’s progress in the reform of home affairs and the judiciary 363 and in the management of EU funds.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Croatia ∗
(Institute for International Relations)

Croatia expects to speed up negotiations on the EU membership during the French Presidency Croatia’s expectations of the French Presidency are very high and primarily focused on speeding up the negotiations on EU membership. It was announced through bilateral high-level contacts that Croatia might open all the remaining chapters by the end of French Presidency and conclude some of them. 364 So far Croatia has opened negotiation on 20 chapters and provisionally closed two chapters, while Croatian Government
361

Standart News: Etienne de Poncins: I’d like to see th Bulgaria even more European, June 24 2008, available at: nd http://www.standartnews.com (last access: September 2 2008). 362 FOCUS News Agency: France pledges not to snag th Turkey’s EU accession talks, May 6 2008, available at: nd http://www.focus-fen.net (last access: September 2 2008). 363 Standart News: France to Discuss EC Report on Bulgaria, th June 24 2008, available at: http://www.standartnews.com nd (last access: September 2 2008). ∗ Institute for International Relations. 364 This was mentioned by Vesna Pusic, president of the National Committee for Monitoring the Accession Negotiations, In the Network of the First Programme, Croatian Radio, 1 July 2008, 8.30 a.m.

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submitted reports on all the remaining opening benchmarks on 30 June. Related to the French Presidency programme, the most debated issue in Croatia was the proposal for establishing the Union for the Mediterranean. For the first time, the academic round table was organised by the “Heinrich Böll Foundation” 365 in Croatia under the title “EUROTACIJE” with the aim to discuss the priorities of the EU-presidency. As it was announced, it will become a practice before every following EU-presidency. 366 After the initiative for establishing a Mediterranean Union faced negative reactions in most Mediterranean EU member states, where the initiative was understood as strengthening the French influence in the region, the idea was transferred in a form which could satisfy the EU and the other Mediterranean countries as well as Croatia, who would like to have active role in the association, wrote Neven Šantić, a journalist. 367 Nives Malenica from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, expressed the readiness of Croatia to take active part on a political and sectoral level of the Union for the Mediterranean, seen as an upgrade of the Barcelona Process. Croatia’s expectations are to have full involvement in the Euro-Mediterranean policy and to share economic and political interests in this area. The Mediterranean region deserves much better consideration from all the countries that surround it and this is the reason why Croatia should become a member of this Union, stressed Tonči Tadić, former Croatian MP. However, Michael Emerson from the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels was very critical regarding the idea and opened a number of questions and dilemmas on the round table, saying that it would be difficult to expect spectacular results from the 368 Union in a short period. The issue of the European External Action Service did not receive much attention in Croatia.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Cyprus ∗
(Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies)

The Cyprus Problem – high expectations of French Presidency The French EU-Presidency’s priorities, as elaborated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy 369 and by the French ambassador in Nicosia Nicolas Galey, 370 were well received in Nicosia, which on various occasions has reaffirmed its commitment to co-operate with France to guarantee their success. Besides Paris’ priorities to chart a common immigration policy, enhance the European defence policy, promote renewable energy resources, reform the Common Agricultural Policy and involve civil society in EU affairs, Nicosia is also concerned as regards France’s position towards Turkey’s accession to the EU and the European Union’s involvement in the negotiation process for the resolution of the 371 Cyprus problem. The Cyprus Problem Concerning Turkey’s accession prospects, Cyprus expects France to urge Ankara to fulfil all of its obligations towards the EU including the implementation of the Ankara Protocol 372 as well as all the commitments outlined during the negotiation of all 35 accession chapters. 373 Nicosia also expects Paris to be extremely cautious during the opening of the energy chapter in Turkey’s accession bid. This chapter was ’informally’ blocked by Cyprus during the Tassos Papadopoulos presidency in Cyprus, due to threats expressed by Turkey against Cyprus on its signing of bilateral agreements –
Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies. Presentation of the priorities of the French presidency of the EU to the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg, 10/07/2008. 370 Press Conference held by the French Embassy in Nicosia, 09/07/2008. 371 Interviews conducted by Christos Xenophontos, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, early July 2008. 372 The conclusions of the European Council of December 2006 call Turkey to fully implement the Ankara Protocol which extends the customs union to states that became members in 2004 and the Republic of Cyprus, in particular. As Turkey refuses to extend the customs union to Cyprus, the opening of eight chapters of negotiations related to the implementation of the Ankara Protocol and the provisional closing of all negotiation chapters is dependent upon Turkey’s full compliance with its commitments under the Ankara Protocol. 373 Interviews conducted by Christos Xenophontos, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, early July 2008.
369 ∗

The German Heinrich Böll Foundation is an independent political foundation with close relations to the German Green Party. 366 The first round table was organised in the Mediterranean Centre for Life Research in Split on 12 June 2008. 367 Neven Šantić: “The Union for Mediterranean – a challenge for the EU and the Arabic countries”. Novi list, 15 June 2008, p. 14. 368 Ibid.

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with neighbouring countries such as Egypt – for the search and extraction of oil and natural gas off the coast of Cyprus. After all, such energy agreements have proven to be in line with the policy priorities of the newly established Union for the Mediterranean. The French Presidency’s contribution to the ongoing discussions of the Cyprus problem was explained by President Demetris Christofias who, during his meeting with French Prime Minister François Fillon in Nicosia in early May, asked France to encourage Turkey to adopt a positive stance 374 As Cypriot on the Cyprus problem. diplomats explained, the input of any EU presidency in the settlement of the Cyprus problem will be greatly appreciated, beyond the Cypriot people, by the Cypriot authorities themselves: for, inter alia, they would need some technical guidance on the incorporation of the acquis communautaire in any agreed solution. 375 Renewable energies Another issue in the limelight of discussions in Cyprus is the French Presidency’s plans for the question of renewable energy solutions with regard to Cyprus. In March 2008, the European Council called in its conclusions for the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions by 20 percent until 2020 and the increase in biofuel use and renewable energy resources 376 Nicosia, by 10 percent to 20 percent. however, on various occasions has argued that it is not possible to achieve the EU target by 2020, as its emissions quota is relatively high due to the island-state's large dependence on oil and its intensive air traffic. Moreover, Cyprus lacks the appropriate infrastructure (the construction of wind parks is still examined by the responsible authorities) in order to be able to produce energy from renewable energy sources. According to media reports, Paris – after consultations with the Cypriot authorities – is expected to promote a 5 percent reduction in gas emissions and the increase in use of renewable energy sources by 13 percent by 377 2020 for the island-state.
Statements by President Demetris Christofias, 09/05/2008. 375 Interviews conducted by Christos Xenophontos, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, early July 2008. 376 Council of the European Union (Brussels): Presidency th th Conclusions, 13 and 14 of March 2008, available under. http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pr essData/en/ec/99410.pdf (last access: 01/09/2008). 377 Media Releases after the announcement of the French Presidency’s priorities, 10/07/2008-13/07/2008.
374

Common migration policy The establishment of a common immigration policy is also endorsed by Nicosia as an important priority for the French Presidency. Minister of the Interior Neoklis Silikiotis, interviewed by the “Cyprus News Agency”, explained that Cyprus faces numerous immigration-related problems as thousands of asylum warrants are still pending, the country lacks detention centres, and delays in the deportation process give rights to illegal immigrants (especially women and children) to 378 Cyprus also faces remain in the island. financial problems, as it is burdened with the deportation costs, and therefore considers the engagement of EU funds as very important. Minister Silikiotis stressed that the EU ought to assume its responsibility in the fair distribution of aid to countries such as Cyprus that face a disproportionately large problem with illegal immigration. 379 Nicosia has been a strong supporter of President Sarkozy’s initiative for a Mediterranean Union, which was finally launched on July 13th. Upon his arrival from Paris, where he attended the Mediterranean Union Summit, President Christofias welcomed the aim of the Union for the Mediterranean that, in his words “is to promote peace and stability in the area by enhancing cooperation through joint programmes on climate change, alternative energy sources, sustainable development, and other fields”. 380 EEAS will benefit from a step-by-step approach As regards the European External Action Service (EEAS), there was no extensive public discussion by the Cypriot political elite. Nevertheless, high-ranking officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared with us their conviction that EU foreign policy needs to become more coherent in order to increase the 381 union’s status on the international scene. The EEAS, which is envisaged by the Lisbon Treaty, is a substantial step towards a more coherent and united EU foreign policy, which will promote a more integrated European Union. In their own words, the Cypriot
Cyprus News Agency: Interview of Minister of Interior Neoclis Sylikiotis, available under: http://www.cna.org.cy (last access: 26/06/2008) 379 Ibid. 380 Statement by President Demetris Christofias, 14/07/2008. 381 Interviews conducted by Christos Xenophontos, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, late June 2008.
378

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diplomats told us that “the materialisation of this body is the end product for the enrichment of the CFSP, since the EU aims at an enhanced role in international politics” 382. Even though the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is to be supported by a EEAS made up of staff from the European Commission, the Council Secretariat and the diplomatic services of the member states, the Cypriot diplomats expressed their concerns regarding the ability of small member states to promote their vital interests at a European level. 383 Cypriot Ministry for Foreign Affairs officials also admitted that in regards to the Cyprus problem there were many obstacles that they had to face and that a number of their European counterparts had difficulties in understanding the root-causes of the Cyprus problem (namely, that, according to international law, it is the universally condemned Turkish invasion of 1974 and the massive violation of the Cypriots’ human rights through the ongoing occupation of 37 percent of the Republic’s 384 Our Ministry for Foreign Affairs territory). interlocutors also added that, needless to say, the EEAS should base its decisions on the established principles of international law and its main aim should be the protection and promotion of human rights. For this very reason, Cypriot diplomats stated, a step-by-step approach will be highly beneficial for the EEAS. They explained that, beginning with a ’pilot period’; the EU-27 can then shift to a broader co-operation that will 385 include all external relations.

ideological and emotional attacks on French positions and priorities, as well as without the demonstration of discrepancies. Czech representatives say that it is quite legitimate to have different visions and opinions (for example on Common Agricultural Policy). On the other side, negotiations are needed in order to ensure a certain coherence, to ensure that the consecutive presidencies do not move from one extreme to another. Czech officials acknowledged the (natural) differences between France and the Czech Republic and tried to find balance between them or find issue linkages. French priorities largely concur with the attitudes of main opposition party on the Czech political scene – Social Democrats (ČSSD) – towards the European integration. Czech Social Democrats particularly agree with French attitudes towards common foreign, security and defence policy (Europe as a global actor), energy policy and as well as economic policy (European social model). Czech social democrats heavily criticised the ODS-led government (ODS is the Civic Democratic Party) for the content of priorities for the Czech presidency. Lubomír Zaorálek (ČSSD, shadow foreign minister) argues that the Czech Republic is on a collision course with France because of the discrepancy or even outright clash between the priorities of Czech and French Presidencies. He blames the government for ignoring the ČSSD as the main opposition party during the preparation of Czech priorities, but also for ignoring topics and agendas, which resonate in Europe and which, were picked up by France (common foreign, security and defence policy, migration 386 etc.). While the Czech government, negotiating with France over the content of a joint 18-month programme, refrained from public criticism of French priorities, Czech president Václav Klaus could not resist the temptation to openly express his misgivings. He expects great pressure towards the EU “à la France”. He argues that Czech attitude is necessarily different, and therefore Czechs should ensure that the EU does not move in a direction where

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Czech Republic

∗

(Institute of International Relations)

French priorities: arousing some suspicion, but still leaving room for cooperation – especially in energy policy Overall, the strategy of the Czech government towards France and its priorities consisted of acknowledging the differences between the two (quite openly), followed by tough bargaining without superfluous political,
382

386

Ibid. 383 Ibid. 384 Ibid. 385 Ibid. ∗ Institute of International Relations.

Otázky Václava Moravce: Blíží se předsednictví ČR v EU (Questions of Václav Moravec: Czech Presidency in the EU is approaching), Czech television (channels ČT1 and ČT24), 4 February 2008, available at: http://www.martinbursik.cz/21/442/detail/blizi-sepredsednictvi-cr-v-eu/ (last accessed 14 July 2008). page 76 of 293

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France pushes – in a direction foreshadowed by the rejected Lisbon Treaty. 387 Czech political scene expects the French EUPresidency to be very active. Those who do not share France’s vision of Europe (Czech president, parts of ODS) are afraid that France’s activism may push the EU harshly and arrogantly in a direction they deem incorrect (European defence, Lisbon Treaty). Officials, diplomats and more pragmatic politicians from eurosceptic Civic Democratic Party (those who sit in the government or in the European Parliament) acknowledge that there are differences between Czech and French priorities. But the ongoing discussions and bargaining with France left rather optimistic atmosphere and they seem to believe that French activism will be diverted to policies and agendas where French and Czech priorities match most (energy policy). And then there is the main opposition party (ČSSD), which sees hardly any overlap between Czech and French priorities. Social Democrats welcome French activism in areas such as common foreign policy and defence. But at the same time they argue that, because of a huge gap between French policies and the positions adopted by the current Czech government, the Czech Republic is heading towards a collision with France (and her activism in areas such as foreign and defence policies). The inclusion of defence policy among French priorities is hailed by the Social Democrats. In line with French arguments, Czech Social Democrats argue that defence is a key issue of today’s European Union. Defence is something that concerns the European public much more than for example, institutional reform. Social Democrats and the Green Party (which forms the government together with ODS and the Christian Democrats, KDU-ČSL) support the strengthening of the EU’s role on the global stage, even though the Green Party expressed concern from the “militarization of the EU”. For the ODS, European defence is an extremely sensitive issue. It clashes with the
”Očekávám velký tlak na budování EU à la France. Náš pohled je nutně jiný a proto musíme usilovat o to, aby se vývoj v EU neubíral směrem, který tlačí Francie a který předurčuje odmítnutá Lisabonská smlouva.” (I expect great pressure on the construction of the EU à la France. Our attitude is necessarily different and therefore we should ensure that the EU does not move in a direction where France pushes – in a direction foreshadowed by the rejected Lisbon Treaty). Rozhovor prezidenta republiky pro deník Lidové noviny o Lisabonské smlouvě (Interview with the president of the Czech Republic for Lidove noviny about Lisbon treaty), Lidove noviny, 3 July 2008.
387

Civic Democrat’s ideas and priorities in several aspects. For the ODS, foreign and defence policy traditionally form the core of national sovereignty and therefore, any communitarisation of these agendas (qualified majority voting, European foreign minister, supranational agencies) would be hardly acceptable. Secondly, the concept of the EU as a global political actor with defence capabilities would lead to “fortress Europe”, rather than to more open and liberal Europe favoured by the Civic Democrats. Last but not least, they perceive the common foreign and security policy or a defence policy as a tool in the hands of nation states, not as a manifestation of some European interest. According to Civic Democrats, a common foreign policy at this moment simply does not 388 it is an unachievable chimera. 389 If exist, there are any EU activities (political or military actions) on the global stage, ODS tends to treat them as a reflection of the interests of the most powerful EU members, such as France or Germany. Since these countries (and old EU members generally) often succumb to antiAmerican moods in their populations, the “European influence” on the global stage tends to weaken transatlantic relations. Even though ODS greeted the pro-American turn of French President Sarkozy, it remains cautious towards his plans for Europe as a global political actor. To sum up, Civic Democrats do not believe in the success of a common foreign and security policy or defence policy and, at the same time, they oppose institutional changes in these areas (such as the introduction of qualified majority voting), because it would weaken small states and deprive them of key aspects of national sovereignty. The Czech government is aware of certain incompatibilities between French and Czech priorities. Tensions were caused by different attitudes towards the EU enlargement. The negotiations were tough, but both sides were eager to come up with some agreement regarding the issue. Nevertheless, as can be seen from the current exchange between
“Vždyť společná zahraniční politika neexistuje!” See: Mirek Topolánek: Cukr a bič pro Blízký východ (Carrot and Stick for the Middle East), Mladá fronta DNES, 26 March 2008, available at: http://www.topolanek.cz/3043.html (last access: 14 July 2008). 389 “[…] tolik vzývaná společná zahraniční politika EU se […] jeví jako nedosažitelná chimera.” See: Jan Zahradil: Předsednictví EU prezident obohatí (The president will enrich the presidency of the EU), Mladá fronta DNES, 18 February 2008, available at: http://zpravy.ods.cz/prispevek.php?ID=6250 (last access: 14 July 2008).
388

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French President Sarkozy and Czech officials regarding the ratification of Lisbon Treaty, the deal between France and the Czech Republic in favour of enlargement is far from secure. 390 In fact, the Lisbon Treaty constitutes a crucial component of many tacit or explicit deals on the European and domestic (Czech) levels. “Enlargement for Lisbon” is one of them. The French President indicated he would block future enlargement of the EU if the Lisbon Treaty were not ratified. On the other side, the Czech ODS-led government treats the Lisbon Treaty as a compromise and concession for enlargement. 391 Czech government officials also try to link the issues of EU enlargement and the introduction of immigration policy, arguing that these two priorities of the Czech Republic and France are not incompatible. 392 Generally speaking, the original project of the Mediterranean Union was not received warmly, 393 and the Czech Republic adopted a cautious position. In line with Germany’s objections, Czech officials warned against priorities focused only on one part of Europe. The logic of the original plan for the Mediterranean Union (i.e. Mediterranean Union consisting of southern EU members and southern neighbours) was deemed dangerous. It was argued that such a plan would threaten the coherence of the EU – with this logic in mind, we may end up with Baltic Union, Black 394 Simultaneously, Czech Sea Union etc. diplomacy feared that the French initiative would be used as leverage against further EU enlargement and that the Mediterranean Union would be financed at the expenses of EU’s policy towards Eastern Europe and Balkan. 395
No EU expansion without Treaty, Sarkozy warns, EurActiv, 20 June 2008, available at: http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/eu-expansion-treatysarkozy-warns/article-173516 (last access: 14 July 2008). 391 “Je tady Lisabonská smlouva, určitý kompromis nebo daň za rozšíření.” See: Alexandr Vondra: Odpovědnost poneseme až do konce (Interview with Alexandr Vondra: We bear responsibility till the end), Respekt, 30 June 2008, available at: http://www.vlada.cz/scripts/detail.php?id=37320 (last access: 14july 2008). 392 Alexandr Vondra o přípravě předsednictví: S Francií máme dobré vztahy (Alexandr Vondra about the preparation of presidency: We have good relations with France), EurActive.cz, 18 February 2008. 393 ČR i Slovensko chtějí prohloubit spolupráci EU se státy na východ (Czech Republic and Slovakia want to strengthen cooperation between EU and eastern states), Czech news agency, 26 May 2008. 394 Alexandr Vondra o přípravě předsednictví: S Francií máme dobré vztahy (Alexandr Vondra about the preparation of presidency: We have good relations with France), EurActive.cz, 18. February 2008. 395 V Paříži vznikla Unie pro Středomoří, připojilo se i Česko (Union for Mediterranean was established in Paris, the Czech Republic joined), iDNES.cz, 13 July 2008,
390

The Common Agricultural Policy and the interrelated issue of budget reform are areas where Czech officials and politicians openly admit the clash of interests. The Czech perception is that “France is rather interested in evolutionary changes”. 396 But the Czech Republic wants more profound changes, including the reduction of direct payments to farmers and the liberalization of global trade with agricultural products. The reform should not end up in decreasing the subsidies for bigger farmers. Such a measure would hurt the Czech agricultural sector, dominated by bigger farms. 397 Simultaneously, the safety of food imported into the EU must be secured. 398 The Czech Republic argues that the EU should put more money into projects that make the Union more competitive (e.g. science and technology). In contrast to common foreign and defence policy or energy policy, France has no real ‘soul mates’ on the Czech political scene that would welcome her plans in the spheres of agriculture and budget. Despite the discrepancies between the Czech and French opinions on the reform of Common Agricultural Policy, Czech officials remain optimistic for the 399 next round of negotiations with France. Energy security is an agenda where France’s views and the official Czech position match the most. The Czech Republic prioritizes the issues of energy security and self-sufficiency, and in spite of the fact that the Green Party sits in government; the attitude of the Czech Republic towards nuclear energy is friendly. Within the EU, the Czech Republic is a member of the ‘pro-nuclear club’ led by France. The Czech supporters of the utilization of nuclear energy (mainly from ODS) also
available at: http://zpravy.idnes.cz/v-parizi-vznikne-uniepro-stredomori-pripoji-se-i-cesko-pj2/zahranicni.asp?c=A080713_120036_zahranicni_mia (last access: 14 July 2008). 396 Vondra: ČR chce při vedení EU dokončit liberalizaci trhu (Vondra: Czech Republic wants to finalize the liberalization of common market when presiding the EU), Czech news agency, 1 April 2008. 397 See also the previous issue of EU-27 Watch No. 6, p. 166. 398 Priority předsednictví: ČR a Švédsko chápou reformu zemědělské politiky podobně (Priorities of the Presidency: Czech Republic and Sweden perceive the reform of agricultural policy similarly), EurActiv, 5 March 2008, available at: http://www.euractiv.cz/ceskepredsednictvi/clanek/priority-predsednictvi-cr-a-svedskochapou-reformu-zemedelske-politiky-podobne (last access: 14 July 2008). 399 Ivo Hlaváč: Health check je pro liberalizaci SZP nezbytný (Health check is necessary for the liberalisation of CAP), EurActiv, 27 June 2008, available at: http://www.euractiv.cz/ceske-predsednictvi/interview/ivohlavac-health-check-je-pro-liberalizaci-szp-nezbytny (last access: 14 July 2008).

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played the same card as France did: they argued that nuclear energy is a solution not only to the problem of security of energy supplies, but also to the threat of global warming. 400 Nuclear energy (as a ‘lowemission’ source) is thought to be a better solution than inefficient renewable resources, for which the Czech Republic does not even have predisposition. 401 Moreover, energy policy is one of the very few areas where the attitudes of the main governing party (Civic Democrats) and largest opposition party (Social Democrats) are in agreement. 402 Similarly to France, energy security is high on the European agenda of the Czech Republic and represents one of the priorities for Czech Presidency. The public debate on the energy security of the Czech Republic and the EU as a whole is burgeoning. The supporters of nuclear energy are gaining the upper hand within this debate. At the beginning of July, an independent commission led by the president of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic released part of their work on the energy report. The preliminary report is giving a green light to expanding the nuclear power station at Temelín, causing a deep friction within the government. Discussions about the European External Action Service have been overshadowed by the imminent issues of the future of the Lisbon Treaty and the Czech EU Presidency Before the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland, Czech politicians nourished the idea that the Czech Republic would have a strong say in the decision who will occupy the key posts established by the Lisbon Treaty (especially the President of European Council and High Representative of the Union for 403 Foreign Affairs and Security Policy).
400

Nevertheless, concrete suggestions for personalities suitable for these posts were not voiced. The only exception was words of support for the candidature of Tony Blair for the President of European Council. 404 If Tony Blair chose to run for High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy instead (as some speculations suggest), he would also have support from the Czech side. While the post of the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, proposed by the rejected Constitutional Treaty, and the new post of the High Representative were publicly debated, the European External Action Service (EEAS) remains the topic of closed expert and academic discussions. The preferences towards the EEAS emerge only slowly and the Czech Republic adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Moreover, since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is uncertain, one can expect that the debate about the Czech position towards urgent topics: the the EEAS will give way to more future of the Lisbon Treaty. After the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, the Czech Republic does not have to bother its head with the selection of appropriate persons for the post of the High Representative and the topic of EEAS will probably be sidelined as well. The government is rather hesitant about the EEAS and its prospects. Nevertheless, there are several arguments why a small country such as the Czech Republic should actively take part in the discussions and promote the establishment of the EEAS. The Service may increase the efficiency of the Czech foreign service. The EEAS, in which the Czech Republic will participate, will allow the Czech Republic to rationalize the network of Czech missions abroad by reducing the number of 405 embassies. The Czech Republic will opt for narrowing the scope of the tasks of the EEAS. The European Commission proved to be an effective administrator of the enlargement agenda, European Neighbourhood Policy and the development agenda. Moreover, policies pursued by the Commission in these agendas are mostly in line with Czech preferences. On
outlooks of the Lisbon Treaty differently), Czech News Agency, 20 April 2008. 404 Alexandr Vondra: Blaira bych zařadil mezi nadějné kandidáty (I would place Blair among hopefuls), Euro, 21. January 2008. 405 Vít Střítecký: “Jak dál s ‘evropskou diplomacií’?” (How to carry on with “European diplomacy”?), Policy Paper, Institute of International Relations, Prague, March 2008.

Czech Prime Minister tells European Nuclear Energy Forum: nuclear power will help us meet set targets, Radio Praha, 23 May 2008, available at: http://www.radio.cz/en/article/104353 (last access: 14 July 2008). 401 Czech Republic’s potential for hydroenergetics is quite low, we do not have much sunlight for solar power stations and also the potential for biofuels is quite limited. See Alexandr Vondra o přípravě předsednictví: S Francií máme dobré vztahy (Alexandr Vondra about the preparation of presidency: We have good relations with France), EurActive.cz, 18. February 2008. 402 Pavel Telička, Lubomír Zaorálek (ČSSD) and Jan Zahradil (ODS) in Studio 24, Czech television (channel ČT24), 1 July 2008. 403 Jan Zahradil (MEP, foreign affairs expert of the Civic Democratic Party), quoted in Výhledy: Lisabonské smlouvy vidí čeští europoslanci dost odlišně (Czech MEPs see the

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the contrary, the priorities and positions of the High Representative (and thus the EEAS) are difficult to foresee. If the broader model was realised and the EEAS took over more tasks from Commission, the Czech Republic might lose one of its allies on the European level without gaining new one. Last, but not least, ODS strongly opposed the idea of a EU foreign minister. It may block the establishment of a stronger EEAS for the same reason, thus stronger “European diplomacy” would endow the EU with state-like qualities. On the other side, one may expect a positive reception from Social Democrats and other pro-European parties (the Green Party and Christian Democrats). But as we mentioned earlier, even though the proposals for a EU foreign minister and a High Representative attracted substantial attention from Czech politicians, EEAS is not publicly discussed. EEAS remains the topic of a few involved diplomats and experts and the attitudes of political parties and politicians can only be estimated on the basis of their attitudes towards European integration generally and with common foreign policy in particular.

Hedegaard. 407 The French reform is therefore seen as a welcome step for Denmark, which considers itself a front runner in developing sustainable energy. Furthermore, the prioritisation of climate change is in tune with the global United Nations Climate Change Conference “COP15”, which is to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009. • The official Danish position towards developing the military dimension of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and the intent of the French Presidency to strengthen ties with NATO is positive. The Danish Defence Minister Søren Gade has hinted that it may be time to consider a planning unit that coordinates the European defence efforts. In his view this will strengthen the responsibility of Europeans for military 408 peacekeeping missions. The Danish government supports the French migration efforts and wants to enhance this part of the EU co-operation. Yet, Danish migration policy is a sensitive policy area due to a heated national debate, the relatively tight rules on family unification and the Danish EU opt-out from this policy area. The Danish government and parliament are in support of liberalising the Common 409 Agricultural Policy. This is, however, in opposition to the French wishes to defend the current model. 410

•

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Denmark ∗
(Danish Institute for International Studies)

•

French Presidency agenda regarded as ambitious The French Foreign Minister’s speech at the Europe Day on 9th of May recently stated that the priorities of the French Presidency equal the normal workload of three presidencies. With its wide focus on energy, defence and migration besides the institutional issues regarding the future of the Lisbon Treaty, the agenda of the French Presidency is considered ambitious in Denmark. 406 The general expectation to the French Presidency is mixed. The Danish government and parliament support the priorities of the French Presidency on most points: The effort of the European Commission to reform the European energy sector has previously been supported by the Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, Connie

While the ambitious agenda may set EU moving, it may be of concern from a Danish point of view if NicolasSarkozy creates too many unresolved EU issues before any possible referenda on the Danish opt-outs. 411

Danish Institute for International Studies. Information: Fransk EU-formandskab i sværvægtsklasse, 24 June 2008, available at: http://www.information.dk/161213 (last access: 25 June 2008).
406

∗

Danish Ministry for Climate and Energy: EU’s klima- og energipakke – EU’s største grønne udfordring, available at: http://www.kemin.dk/Nyheder/pm-euenergi.htm (last access 25 June 2008). 408 Berlingske Tidende: Frankrig tilbage i NATO med krav om øget EU-forsvar, 17 June 2008, available at: http://www.berlingske.dk/article/20080617/verden/7061700 32/ (last access: 25 June 2008). 409 Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries: Ned med landbrugsstøtten, available at: http://www.fvm.dk/Default.aspx?ID=18486&PID=167232& NewsID=4889 (last access: 27 June 2008). 410 European Public Health Alliance: What can be expected from the French EU Presidency?, 5 June 2008, available at:: http://www.epha.org/a/3083 (last access: 27 June 2008). 411 Europa: EU-formandskab giver Sarkozy ny chance, Ugebrev fra EU-Kommissionen i Danmark, 5 June 2008, available at: http://www.ugebreveteuropa.dk/artikel.asp?AjrDcmntId=599 (last access: 27June 2008).

407

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The Danish debate on the future of the ESDP after the Lisbon Treaty has been overshadowed by the Danish opt-out in the area of defence policy. In this debate some critical observers in Denmark have objected that the ESDP does not explicitly restrain itself to participation in missions that are approved by the UN and that Denmark should therefore focus more on reforming the UN. 412 In practice, Denmark is bound by its defence policy opt-out that was adopted with the Edinburgh Agreement in 1992. The opt-out, which can only be removed by referendum, means that Denmark does not participate in the build up of EU military capacities or in EU military missions. 413 Thoughts of having a referendum on the future of the Danish opt-outs have recently been postponed due to the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. 414

that the Lisbon January 1st 2009. Estonia continues Turkey’s and aspirations.

Treaty will take effect on With regard to enlargement, to actively support Croatia’s, Macedonia’s membership

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Estonia ∗
(University of Tartu)

More Europe is fine but keep our interests in mind The Estonian government’s priorities for the French Presidency are stipulated in a document approved on July 10th 2008. 415 In general, these priorities are in favour of ‘more Europe’, aligning quite well with the objectives of the French government. However, Estonia has specific concerns in a number of areas. In general affairs, the most important objectives of the Estonian government for the French Presidency are to “find a constructive and satisfying solution on how to proceed with the Lisbon Treaty” and to ensure the “active continuation of the EU enlargement process 416 according to previously agreed principles.” The Estonian government continues to hope
Information: Skal EU’s militær adlyde FN?, 11 March 2008, available at: http://www.information.dk/156207 (last access: 25 June 2008). 413 Ministry of Defence Denmark: Det danske forsvarsforbehold, available at: http://forsvaret.dk/FMN/Forsvars+og+sikkerhedspolitik/International+sikkerhedspolitik/EU/D et+danske+forsvarsforbehold/Forsvarsforbehold.htm (last access: 25 June 2008). 414 Ritzau: Fogh parkerer EU-afstemning, 24 June 2008, available at: http://jp.dk/indland/indland_politik/article1377024.ece (last access: 25 June 2008). ∗ University of Tartu. 415 Estonia’s priorities in the European Union during the French Presidency, available under: www.vm.ee (last st access: 1 of September 2008). 416 Ibid.
412

Energy security is high on Estonia’s agenda. Expectations for the French Presidency include reaching agreements related to legislative packages of the internal energy market, climate change and energy. 417 Estonia generally supports the positions of the European Commission concerning the internal energy market as well as energy and climate policies. The diversification of energy sources and supply channels, as well as the development of a clear and concrete foreign policy concerning energy, are regarded as essential priorities. However, Estonia has a number of specific concerns. These include the demand that equal access to the transmission networks be ensured for all market participants. The development of new energy infrastructure should be carried out “in a spirit of true cooperation, so as to secure supplies for all of Europe, not just for individual 418 states.” Estonia also claims that the differing characteristics of the market, and the uniqueness of the energy sector of each member state must be recognised. For instance, the system for trading the permissible quantities of greenhouse gases should take into account the unique characteristics of Estonia’s oil shale energy. The government also insists that the European Union implement the same competitiveness and environmental standards for the firms of third countries in order to avoid possible market distortions and to reduce energy security risks. Estonia also has strong concerns about the environmental consequences of the growing transport of Russia’s gas and oil to Europe, relating, in particular, to the Baltic Sea. Developments in the field of migration policy are of great interest to Estonia. Priorities for the French Presidency include minimum harmonisation of rules at the EU level regarding the migration of highly qualified workers from third countries. Estonia continues to defend the position that the degree of opening of labour markets to third country nationals should remain a decision of individual member states. Estonia also supports the
Ibid. Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet: Address to the “Riigikogu” on behalf of the Government of st Estonia, 21 of February 2008, available under: st www.vm.ee (last access: 1 of September 2008).
418 417

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establishment of sanctions at EU level against employers of illegal third country nationals. Immigration is a sensitive issue in Estonia, given the country’s history with massive influxes of Russian-speakers during the Soviet period, the integration of whom into the Estonian society continues to pose problems. The pooling of immigration-related competences at the European level has given rise to concerns (expressed, mostly, by critics of the government) that Estonia might, again, be subjected to ‘externally-directed demographic policies’ involving, in the worst case, EU-level decisions on immigration quotas for specific member states and the relocation of immigrants to the new member states in order to disperse the immigration 419 In this context, the possible pressure. introduction of visa-free travel between Russia and the EU is also seen as a threat to Estonia. Estonia supports the completion of the Common Agricultural Policy’s health check together with necessary adaptations to the measures of the policy for the period 20092013. In the long term, Estonia finds it important that all EU agricultural producers are treated on equal terms. The Estonian government wants to specify the definition of less favoured areas and insists that compensation for agricultural activities must be based on objective criteria. The final aim of the reforms, according to the Estonian government, should be the abolishment of market organisation measures (including milk production quotas). In the realm of defence and security, Estonia aims for a more unified European security and defence policy and the further development of EU military and civilian crisis management 420 Estonia calls for more attention capabilities. to unresolved regional conflicts in the EU’s neighbourhood, to a common external policy to ensure energy security, and to the further enhancement of EU-NATO co-operation. A new priority of the Estonian government is combating cyber warfare. This agenda draws its rationale from the massive cyber attacks on Estonia’s IT infrastructure during the spring 2007 crisis in relations with Russia. Estonia has already successfully pushed this topic onto NATO’s agenda: a cyber defence centre,
Anti Poolamets: Lissaboni leping kinnistab th liitriigistumist, Eesti Päevaleht, 16 of June 2008. 420 Estonia’s priorities in the European Union during the French Presidency, available under: www.vm.ee (last st access: 1 of September 2008).
419

funded by seven NATO allies, was set up in Tallinn in spring 2008. Cooperation within NATO is not enough: Estonia argues that the EU should develop a broad and coherent policy for fighting cyber crime. With regard to competitiveness and economic growth, Estonian priorities for the French Presidency include reaching an agreement on the “Small Business Act” that would strengthen growth and competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, reaching an agreement on an EU-wide community patent system and developing better cross-border health services by clarifying the regulations regarding reimbursement and improving the availability of these services to citizens. In principle, Estonia supports the search for new approaches for developing co-operation with the Mediterranean partners. However, it claims that these forms of cooperation must be consistent with the agreed-upon objectives and methods of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The financing of projects focusing on the Mediterranean Partnership from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) should not lead to redistribution of funds among regions or the reduction of funds available to the Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood 421 Policy. Strengthening the foreign policy making capacity of the EU is a key priority for Estonia. The government has started to discuss the implementation of the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty that pertain to the new post of a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and for the creation of a European External Action Service (EEAS). According to Foreign Minister Paet, the High Representative should “become one of the world's leading spokespersons for democratic 422 Regarding the EEAS, the values.” preference seems to be for a broad mandate, including not only Common Foreign and Security Policy but also other external activities such as development aid and enlargement. However, the government emphasizes that all member states must be included in the building up of the service and that all large and small states, as well as geographical regions, must be fairly represented. “For us, it is extremely
Ibid. Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet: Address at the “Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule” in th Zürich, Switzerland, on 7 of April 2008, available under: st www.vm.ee (last access: 1 of September 2008).
422 421

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important, that in this action service, just as in other international organisations, Estonians are also employed,“ said Paet. 423

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Finland ∗
(EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs)

Finnish perspective on the French Presidency priorities The Finnish media has not clearly presented the four French priorities so far. The main newspaper mentioned them for the first time a day before the start of the French Presidency. The expectations of Finland during the French Presidency are threefold. Firstly, Finland is looking forward to issues related to developing the European Security and Defence Policy and its responsibilities. Secondly, emphasis is being put on the Lisbon Process. Thirdly, for Finland relations between the EU and Russia play an important role. The expectations in this regard are high due to the strong presidential system in France and Russia having new rulers. In addition to this, the energy and climate package should be almost ready by the beginning of next year when the European 424 Parliament starts the electoral campaign. Finland’s View on Developing EEAS The Finnish media has been rather silent on the European External Action Service (EEAS). The main newspaper wrote one article on the issue in February that was titled “EU is building up the new external service in silence behind the scenes”. The focus of this article was on the preparations to build up the service that have been started by the diplomats and civil servants of the EU member states. In addition to the representatives from the EU member states, the service will consist of the professionals from the European Commission 425 and the Council Secretariat. The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs outlined in May the Finnish stance on the
423

development of the new EEAS. 426 According to the Ministry, Finland takes a positive view of the EEAS, seeing it as an opportunity to have a more integrated role in implementing the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union. Finland also expects to receive notable support for its own foreign service. Increased information will become available through the EEAS, and even though the EU delegations do not affect the tasks of the member states’ own foreign missions, Finland’s global presence will expand as a consequence of the EU delegations. In Finland’s view, the EEAS should bring together the tasks falling under the scope of the ‘EU Foreign Minister’, which are now handled by the European Commission’s External Relations Directorate General and the Council Secretariat. For instance, the EU’s capacity to respond to different crises will be stronger when resources are combined. The EEAS must cooperate in particular with the European Commission in affairs that remain the Commission’s responsibility, such as trade policy. According to the Secretary of State at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Pertti Torstila, the EU’s external action should be regarded as a whole and thus the EEAS should ease institutional tensions that traditionally exist in this field in Brussels. The preparatory work carried out in 2004-2005 (before the Constitutional Treaty got into turmoil) should provide the basis of the new service. Finland has insisted that the work has to proceed fast. The concrete organisation of the EEAS will take time, but hopefully the EEAS will be fully operative in five to eight years. The preparatory work will have to involve all member states. In the negotiations on the Constitutional Treaty, Finland was among the member states that saw added value in the future ‘EU Foreign Minister’ and in having him assisted by ‘EU diplomacy’. In addition, Finland pushed for more qualified majority voting in the CFSP. Finland estimates that it will send approximately 15 to 25 officials to the EEAS and the EU delegations during the first five years. Regarding different competence areas, the tasks of the Council Secretariat related to the CFSP will be transferred to the EEAS, as will be the tasks of the Directorate General
See Finland’s goal a strong European External Action Service and an internationally influential European Union, available at: http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=13038 6&nodeid=15146&contentlan=2&culture=en-US (last th access: 16 of June 2008).
426

Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet: Address to the “Riigikogu” on behalf of the Government of st Estonia, 21 of February 2008, available under: st www.vm.ee (last access: 1 of September 2008). ∗ EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs. 424 Personal interview with a civil servant at the Finnish EU Secretariat. 425 Helsingin Sanomat: EU rakentaa hiljaa kulisseissa th ulkosuhteiden uutta hoitoa, 9 of February 2008.

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RELEX of the Commission. But little else is a more delicate issue than this. For instance, Finland would be reluctant to include tasks related directly to the conduct of trade policy in the EEAS, as the European Commission performs them very well now and trade is at the core of its responsibilities. 427 Just before Ireland’s referendum, the main newspaper, “Helsingin Sanomat”, wrote about the EU’s future leaders and how they have already been secretly chosen. The problem according to “Helsingin Sanomat” is that there are neither rules nor elections to choose these leaders. The newspaper mentioned two names as candidates for the position of the President of the European Council: Jean-Claude Juncker and Tony Blair. Regarding the other posts, the first question is whether the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, deserves another five-year term. Javier Solana is the favourite for the new post of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, but the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt would get this post after him. However, nothing is certain because if the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen becomes a compromise candidate between Juncker and Blair, there would be already two ‘centre-right’ Scandinavians. Two other posts, namely the President of the European Parliament and the current position of Juncker as a leader of the eurogroup, should reflect the results of the European 428 Parliament elections.

effects on France and its influence in Europe, 30 percent think that there will be no particular effects, and 9 percent believe there will be negative effects. 429 The French government announced that its main priorities during its six month presidency would be: energy/climate, immigration, defence and the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, but also economic growth, unemployment and the Mediterranean Union. This immediately generated a strong reaction by the opposition (left-wing) parties, which have been focusing on the importance of inclusive social policies and good public services. Former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin opened the discussion in March after a consultation visit with the current President, Nicolas Sarkozy. On that occasion he declared that, in order to reconcile the European peoples with the EU, focusing on its social dimension was 430 necessary. This opinion is strongly defended by all left-wing parties. On July 1st 2008, a large coalition led by François Hollande (Socialist), Marie-George Buffet (Communist), and Jean-Pierre Chevènement (MRC 431) released a common declaration establishing priorities, according to the left, for the French Presidency. They insisted on the importance of implementing social policy, preserving public services, and advocated for a harmonisation of social policies. 432 However, this vision is not shared by Nicolas Sarkozy, who recently declared: “We have the best social protection system in Europe. You certainly do not want me to compromise it with the others”. 433 Still, these matters seem very important for ‘organised civil society’. A study has taken place within different organisations (namely companies, trade unions, NGOs, local institutions, and think tanks). 434 It revealed that most of them were determined to influence the agenda of the French Presidency. This study also pointed to the main convergences and divergences between the government and the civil society priorities. The main convergence is the climate change issue: all parties agree that struggle against CO2 emissions should be on top of the agenda. Another issue is
Opinion poll, “IFOP” for Touteleurope.fr, January 2008. Le Point: Sarkozy consulte Jospin sur la Présidence Française de l’UE, 18/04/2008. 431 Movement républicain et citoyen. 432 AFP: Présidence de l’UE: déclaration commune Hollande, Buffet, Chevènement, 01/07/2008. 433 France 3: Public Allocution, 01/07/2008. 434 EurActiv: Résultats de l’enquête sur les attentes et propositions pour la Présidence française de l’UE, 03.12.2007, availble under. www.euractiv.fr. (last access: 29/08/2008).
430 429

French Presidency and the future of the EU

France ∗
(Centre européen de Sciences Po)

French Priorities: a forgotten social agenda Expectations are high regarding the French Presidency. Three years after the French ‘No’ vote to the Constitutional Treaty and six months after the Lisbon Treaty ratification by parliament, in a tense economic and social climate, the French Presidency is somehow seen as a way to reconcile the French people with the European Union. In January 2008, a poll from “IFOP” showed that 61 percent of French people thought that the French Presidency should have positive
Pertti Torstila, Seminar on the EU Foreign Policy and the European External Action Service, Parliament of th Finland, 25 of February 2008. 428 Giles Merrit: EU:n tulevia huippujohtajia valitaan jo nd salamyhkäisesti, Helingin Sanomat, Editorial. 2 of June 2008. ∗ Centre européen de Sciences Po.
427

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that of ‘Europe – protection’; if the government sees it only from an economic perspective, ‘civil society’ is also waiting for progress in terms of specific forms of general interest, and a more accurate protection of the EU’s interests in the globalisation framework. 435 Finally, the recent poll from “IFOP” showed that three of the priorities of the French Presidency (defence, immigration and energy) were not viewed as such by the French. 436 Their priorities are rather the environment and sustainable development (27 percent), consumer protection, defence of European enterprises (20 percent), and immigration (11 percent), which differs slightly from the priorities set by the government. The European External Action Service: an organisation still to be defined The question of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and its physiognomy has not been commented on a lot in France thus far. Nevertheless, according to the Lisbon Treaty, the member states have to fix its composition, perimeter and financing and many different options are currently foreseen by the various member states. The EEAS ‘perimeter’, or the different services from the European Commission to be integrated in this new structure, is a very delicate question. In a recent report presented to the “Assemblée Nationale”, it is argued that the idea of an extensive delimitation of the competences (i.e., including the current DG External Relations, Europeaid Cooperation Office, DG Trade and even DG Environment) cannot be considered favourably, notably because it could lead to a ‘de437 This communautarisation’ of some policies. report suggests that the EEAS should be composed of the Council competent services, DG Relex and EU delegations officials. It is also argued that a compromise between the restrictive and the extensive definition could be found by agreeing on a restricted perimeter, while placing the European Commissioners for Enlargement, External Aid and External Trade under the High Representative’s authority. This framework could guarantee the coherence of the EU’s external action. Finally, the report recommends making sure that the credits corresponding to shared competences are fungibles, which would mean
Ibid. Opinion poll, “IFOP” for Touteleurope.fr, January 2008. 437 Roland Blum: Rapport d’information déposé par la Commission des Affaires Etrangères sur l’avenir de la politique étrangère et de sécurité commune et de son financement, Assemblée Nationale, 16/10/2007.
436 435

abounding European Security and Defence Policy credits. With regards to these issues, the French rightwing MEP, Alain Lamassoure, put forward his personal ideas. Firstly, he considered that the EEAS should be a unified service, with clearly defined competences between the Council and the European Commission (for instance, five different missions can be found in Kosovo at the present moment). His second recommendation was that every diplomatic service should send its best officials to the new external action service, “otherwise, this won’t be a European diplomacy; it th will be a ‘28 diplomacy’ additional to the 27 already existing” 438. But these changes are not supposed to affect bilateral diplomacies: a clear distinction needs to be made between EU diplomatic missions outside and inside the EU. Alain Lamassoure’s last comment – a more controversial point – was that the use of terms like ‘embassies’ and ‘ambassadors’ should be abandoned inside the EU. Relations between the European countries are not diplomatic, he says, it is common work inside the EU. Finally, for the Foreign Affairs Minister, Bernard Kouchner, this service should not emanate only from the Commission, because this could lead to the gradual eclipse of member states’ policies. He argued that one of the priorities of the French Presidency would be to maintain these national 439 policies.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Germany ∗
(Institute for European Politics)

The German debate about the French EUPresidency priorities Being the closest political partner within the European Union, the German debate about the French EU-Presidency is quite substantial. All relevant German actors are quite engaged in observing and evaluating the announced priorities, no less due to the fact that the German government was involved in the preparations with the French Presidency from the start. As mentioned above, 440 because of
EurActiv: Traité de Lisbonne : le service diplomatique soulève des questions, 13/05/2008, available under: www.euractiv.fr (last access: 29/08/2008). 439 Assemblée Nationale: Compte rendu intégral des débats, Séance du 14/05/2008, available under: www.assemblee-nationale.fr/13/cra/2007-2008/156.asp (last access 29/08/2008). ∗ Institute for European Politics. 440 See the answer on question 1 for Germany.
438

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the failed ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland, the focus of the debate shifted from the four official French EU-Presidency’s priorities, to the question of the Reform Treaty’s future. In this subchapter German actors’ interests and concerns with regard to the French agenda for the second half of 2008 will be analysed according to the following issues of the debate: energy/climate, future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), defence, immigration, Union for the Mediterranean. Energy and climate policy The debate on energy and climate issues has become one of the most vitally discussed topics in German politics and society, with growing attention to the fight against global warming. Basically all relevant political parties and non-governmental organisations agree on the fact, that combating climate change and the need to secure energy supply will be part of the main challenges in the coming decades. The results of the European Council Summit under the German Presidency in March 2007 and the broad agreement, reached on the G-8 Summit in Heiligendamm, influenced the German position on climate policy for more than one year now. Especially Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the Minister for Environment, Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), keep declaring that Germany feels responsible for the enforcement of the agreement’s content, concluded under their leadership. Taking these aspects into account, the French Presidency will be strongly supported by the German government in implementing the ambitious targets for a European energy and climate 441 The introduction of new directives policy. and regulations on EU level in fulfilment of last years agreements (“Climate and Energy Package”), however, lead to the appearance of some conflicts of interests within the political system in Germany. These differences can be observed, on one hand, by the debates between the German government and the European Commission, and, on the other hand, in a similar way between the German Federal Ministries for Economic Affairs and for Environment. As it is already made apparent, the ministers and their staff have different
441

opinions of importance on the need to support competitiveness, security of supply and environmental issues. Concrete thematic differences between the European Commission and German ministries as well as between the two German ministries responsible, can be found in the following areas 442: • First, the future of the EU-emissiontrading-system (ETS) after 2012 and the amount of certificates being sold or handed over for free as well as the burden-sharing for the sectors not affected by the ETS. Second, the design of the new directive on renewable energies and the future of the German feed-insystem. Third, the binding targets of biofuel usage in European and German energy markets. Fourth, over the last few months, the dramatic rise in oil prices added another issue to most debated proposals: Which measures should be used to lower the social effects of rising prices for fossil fuels.

•

• •

The political parties in Germany stand divided on several issues of the French Presidency’s programme. Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) refer increasingly to the need to protect German consumers and industry in global and European markets. They advertise for the need to retain companies who, because of the extension (and the subsequent additional cost) of the new rules for the ETS, would have 443 otherwise decided to leave the country. This process, called “carbon leakage”, is seen as one of the main challenges in preserving the competitiveness of the German economy. The meeting of Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy in Straubing, Germany, on 9 June 2008 had been well received by CDU/CSU politicians. It was particularly welcomed because of its results, which provide short- and middle-term protection to German
For further information see: Oliver Geden/Severin Fischer: Die Energie- und Klimapolitik der Europäischen Union. Bestandsaufnahme und Perspektiven, BadenBaden 2008. 443 Cf. Marie-Luise Dött (CDU): Positionen zum europäischen Emissionshandel endlich offensiv einbringen, press release, 10 July 2008, available at: http://www.cdu.de/archiv/2370_23739.htm (last access: 16 July 2008); Markus Pieper (EVP-ED/CDU): 50% höhere Strompreise durch EU-Emissionshandel, CDU/CSU-group in the European Parliament, press release, 27 June 2008, available at: http://www.cducsu.eu/content/view/5099/4/ (last access: 16 July 2008).
442

Cf. Angela Merkel in an interview with “Straubinger Tagblatt”. See: Merkel: Wir unterstützen die französische Ratspräsidentschaft nach Kräften, Regierung online, 9 June 2008, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Interview/2008 /06/2008-06-09-merkel-staubinger_20tagblatt.html (last access: 16 July 2008).

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car manufacturers from being issued unreachable emission reductions for their products. 444 Nevertheless, no agreement had been found between Merkel and Sarkozy on the issue of supporting European companies affected by the full integration into the ETS. While the French position aims at introducing tariffs on CO2-intensive products from non-EU countries, the German government favours financial help for companies being affected by global competition. German Social Democrats (SPD) support the most important points of the EU energy and climate policy and share the opinion of Environmental Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, on the need to play an active role in the fight against global warming. Nevertheless, the governing SPD’s rejection to the use of nuclear energy might be the cause of a serious conflict for future negotiations on climate protection measures, especially regarding the French position on the topic. Liberals (FDP) share the opinion of the CDU/CSU in developing a climate policy that is not damaging economic development and protecting the interest of 445 Therefore, important industrial companies. they support a more market-oriented climate policy model. One emphasis lies on the liberalisation of the EU energy markets, which has been restarted by the European Commission in September 2007 and could also lead to an agreement in autumn 2008. The German government earns the most criticism on its energy and climate policy from the oppositional Green Party (“Bündnis 90/Grüne”). Its members fear that last year’s ambitious targets will not be accomplished as long as Chancellor Merkel is supporting the interests of the German economy (e.g. as seen during the French-German meeting in Straubing and the results for the automotive industry). The Green Party introduced a proposal to establish a “European Community on Renewable Energies”, similar to the European Community for Coal and Steel and the European Atomic Energy Community in the 446 This new community could then be 1950s.
Cf. Werner Langen (EVP-ED/CDU): Einigung MerkelSarkozy bringt CO2-Grenzwerte bei Autos voran, CDU/CSU-group in the European Parliament, press release, 10 June 2008, available at: http://www.cducsu.eu/content/view/5039/4/ (last access: 16 July 2008). 445 Cf. Das Parlament: Streit um Energiepaket, 28 January 2008. 446 Cf. Green group in the European Parliament: Grüne fordern “Europäische Gemeinschaft für Erneuerbare Energien“, press release, 24 June 2008, available at: http://www.grueneeuropa.de/cms/default/dok/240/240073.gruene_fordern_eu
444

using the same method that was previously applied for the subsidy of coal and nuclear energy. The Left Party (“Die Linke”) wants the European climate policy to be even more ambitious and therefore, support a 30 percent target for 2020. They estimate it as absolutely necessary to include German industry even more strongly into the emission trading system. 447 Whereas the political parties argue about the details of the European Commission’s “climateand-energy-package”, being a priority of the French Presidency, the debates within civil societies and among non-governmental organisations and industrial groups are of a more general nature. On the one hand, environmental NGOs, such as “BUND” or “Greenpeace” urge the German government to be more proactive on climate policy, since European agreements on climate protection have to be implemented as laws. On the other hand, German industrial groups, such as the “Energy-Intensive Industry Union” (“VIK”), see the emission trading system only as another way to earn more state money, but not to 448 succeed in fighting global warming. A similar structure of the debate can be found in German media. The rather conservative newspaper “Die Welt”, celebrates the agreement between Merkel and Sarkozy in Straubing as a success for German automotive industry 449, while, at the same time, the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” points out, that the agreement will be worthless for climate protection. 450 A Health check of the CAP The review of the CAP is one of the long-term issues which falls upon the French
ropaeische_gemeinschaft@en.htm (last access: 16 July 2008). 447 Cf. speech of deputy Eva Bulling-Schroeter in the German parliament (”Deutscher Bundestag“) on 11 April 2008: EU-Emissionshandel und Erneuerbare, available at: http://www.bulling-schroeter.de/reden/pr20080411.htm (last access: 16 July 2008). 448 Cf. Verband der industriellen Energie- und Kraftwirtschaft (VIK): Emissionshandel: Neue CO2-Steuer durch die Hintertür, press release, 6 May 2008, available at: http://www.vik.de/index.php?id=71&backPID=71&tt_news= 149 (last access: 16 July 2008). 449 Cf. WeltOnline: Marktgerechter Klimaschutz, 11 June 2008, available at: http://www.welt.de/welt_print/article2089414/Marktgerecht er_Klimaschutz.html (last access: 16 July 2008). 450 Cf. Wolfgang Roth: Klimaschutz mit Drosselklappe. Der deutsch-französische Kompromiss nimmt zu viel Rücksicht auf die Autohersteller, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11 September 2008.

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Presidency. 451 The attention towards developments in the agricultural policy are of no great German public interest. Only the fact of rapidly growing food prices draws some attention to this field. On the question of the future development of the CAP, Germany represents a moderate position between protectionist attitudes, as those in France, and full liberalization, as demanded by Great Britain. Chancellor Merkel promised German farmers to support their interests at the proceedings of the “health check” on the EU level. On the German farmers’ day in Berlin, she declared that, “every form of agriculture has its right to 452 exist and deserves a future perspective” . Her policy input will be directed especially on the cutback on bureaucracy in the national and European administration. 453 In addition, German policy aims at planning reliability, dependability and fair conditions for competition inside Europe. 454 The Ministry of Agriculture shares the view of the European Commission on many points, such as the decoupling of direct payments and the introduction of more market oriented instruments. Nevertheless, there will still be a need for protection of European markets, regarding some specific products which could not compete on global markets. However, the Ministry warns the Commission not to cut the direct payments too far. According to the Parliamentarian State Secretary in the Ministry of Agricultural, Gerd Müller, this would not be a “health check” but more or less an “amputation” on jobs and farms in Germany, 455 especially in the weak East of the country.

It is interesting, however, that the French government highlighted this issue in their programme as there is not any time constraint to deal with the “health check” already. 452 Translated by the author. Angela Merkel, according to: EU-info.Deutschland: Merkel sagt deutschen Bauern Unterstützung auf EU-Ebene zu, 28 June 2008, available at: www.eu-info.de/dpa-europaticker/134874.html (last access: 16 July 2008). 453 Cf. ibid. 454 Cf. Website of the German federal government on agricultural policy, http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/StatischeSeite n/Breg/ThemenAZ/Landwirtschaft/landwirtschaft-2006-0728-eu-und-internationale-agrarpolitik.html (last access: 16 July 2008). 455 Cf. speech of the Parliamentarian State Secretary Gerd Müller at the international workshop “A fair design for an European agricultural policy”: Health Check: Neue Wege für den ländlichen Raum?, Berlin, 6 March 2008, available at: http://www.bmelv.de/cln_044/nn_749972/DE/12Presse/Reden/2008/03-06MuellerEuropAgrarpolitik.html__nnn=true (last access: 16 July 2008).

451

Political parties in Germany reflect their position on agricultural policy by the diverging interest of their electorate. Conservatives such as the CDU, and especially the Bavarian CSU, strongly support German farmers in standing against plans of the European Commission to cut subsidies, while Social Democrats and the Left Party represent moderate positions. Liberals also demand cutting costs of the bureaucracy, while the Green Party support environmentally consistent concepts on land use as well as ecologically sensitive 456 Therefore, the CDU/CSU-group agriculture. in the Bundestag demands reforms on the European level be stopped until 2013 to give farmers more planning reliability, as well as demanding cuts in the expensive work of the administration. This goes in line with the work of Agricultural Minister, Horst Seehofer (CSU) in the Council of Ministers, who resists the wishes of the European Commission to cut back payments to farmers before 2013. The SPD also criticises the digression of subsidies before 2013, especially in connection with the size of the farming site. In opposition to the CDU/CSU, the Social Democrats demand a deeper integration of climate policy into the agricultural agenda and welcome the support for measures on environmentally sensitive farms. Liberals also support planning reliability until 2013 and no digression of payments. However, farmers should be given support towards working more efficiently and productively, in order to compete on free markets within a reasonable timeframe. The Greens are the only party to attack the German government fundamentally and welcome the plans of the Commission in most issues, especially towards rethinking subsidies before 2013. With a particular focus on the battle against climate change, Green politicians say that the agricultural sector has to apply more 457 This is not effort to cut emissions. accomplished by supporting ecologically nonsensible sites with massive financial input. Therefore, a rapid and fundamental reform of the CAP on the EU level is needed.

Cf. for an overview: parliamentary debate on the “Health Check” in the German parliament (“Deutscher Bundestag”), see: Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/136, Anlage 8, pp. 14426 (D)-14433 (A), available at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/16/16136.pdf (last access: 16 July 2008). 457 Cf. Fraktion Bündnis 90/Grüne im Deutschen Bundestag: Klimacheck für die europäische Agrarpolitik, 16 January 2008, available at: http://www.gruenebundestag.de/cms/agrar/dok/215/215115.klimacheck_fuer _die_europaeische_agrarpo.html (last access: 16 July 2008).

456

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Within German society, the lobby-group of German farmers is the most noted voice on the issue of the CAP’s future. Their position is, in most aspects, compliant with the German position in the Council, demanding planning reliability. This entails not changing policy until 2013 and not cutting subsidies, as well as a simplification of procedures. The media is more concerned with high food prices than with the European Commission’s intended reform of the agricultural policy. Nevertheless, especially in left-wing and liberal press sources, there is some criticism towards farmers and the German government. Here, main topics include the blocking of all steps to reform the financial structure in the EU and therefore driving global food markets into an even more 458 severe crisis. Most representatives of the academic community are missing a strategic approach to the future developments of the CAP. With respect to the WTO negotiations on agricultural products, a second thought should be given to Europe’s position on the issue. 459 Other authors fear that the Irish ‘No’ in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty could be used by French President Sarkozy to bring the EU back on a more protectionist track for the coming years and thereby collect important support from the strong agro-lobby in France. 460 ‘Europe of defence’ The question of further developments within the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) was not widely discussed in German politics in recent months. If mentioned, foreign relations and security issues concern more national aspects, such as the concept of a new security strategy, as proposed by the CDU/CSU-group in the German parliament (“Deutscher Bundestag”), and the deployment of more German soldiers to Afghanistan. The
Cf. e.g. Petra Pinzler: Scheinheilige Helfer. Wieder wollen die Reichen die Armen mit ihren Überschüssen ernähren. Das schadet auf lange Sicht allen Beteiligten, in: Die Zeit, 10 July 2008. 459 Cf. Bettina Rudloff: Parallele europäische Agrarreform und WTO-Agrarverhandlungen. Behindern oder stärken sich beide Prozesse wechselseitig?, SWP-Aktuell 29/2008, available at: http://www.swpberlin.org/common/get_document.php?asset_id=4881 (last access: 16 July 2008). 460 Cf. Andreas Maurer/Daniela Schwarzer: Der Schuss vor den Bug. Frankreich muss die Prioritäten seiner EURatspräsidentschaft umgewichten, SWP-Aktuell 62/2008, available at: http://www.swpberlin.org/common/get_document.php?asset_id=5110 (last access: 16 July 2008).
458

focus on security and defence policy as one part of the French Presidency’s programme has not received much attention, even less after the negative Irish referendum. Nevertheless, the German government, as represented by the Minister of Defence, Franz Josef Jung (CDU), supports the French plans for the further development of a genuine ESDP. 461 Concerning reforms, he suggested the extension of the “EU Battle-Groups” towards naval and airborne forces. The minister also mentioned the importance of civil reaction forces, as showed by the example of EULEX 462 in Kosovo. The advancement of a comprehensive European policy with regard to security issues should nevertheless go hand in hand with the development inside NATO. 463 There was some disagreement between Jung and his French colleague, Hervé Morin, about the structure of a new general staff headquarters for the enlarged European battle groups. Jung fears double-structures between EU and NATO, but offers to negotiate the matter between France and the disapproving British government. 464 The German political parties are divided about the French proposals, but this is not a debate which is held on a daily base. There are two main aspects of the CDU/CSU’s new security strategy: firstly, the party wants to strengthen the ability of civil-military reaction and make it interoperable with NATO-structures. Secondly, they support the development of rapid civil reaction forces within the military. 465 Even if the need for a new security strategy is not shared by the Social Democrat Party (SPD), the opinion to strengthen civil-military abilities is mutual. In a joint paper, French Socialist, François Hollande, and the then SPD-leader, Kurt Beck, mention the extension of military and civil forces as necessary to prevent conflicts and secure peace. Therefore, they agree that the development of stronger battle
Cf. Franz Josef Jung, according to: heute im Bundestag: Jung fordert weiteren Ausbau der ESVP, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.bundestag.de/aktuell/hib/2008/2008_163/01.ht ml (last access: 16 July 2008). 462 European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo. 463 Cf. Ansgar Graw: Jung will Eingreiftruppen zur See und in der Luft, in: WeltOnline, 1 June 2008, available at: http://www.welt.de/politik/article2055716/Jung_will_Eingreif truppen_zur_See_und_in_der_Luft.html (last access: 16 July 2008). 464 Cf. ibid. 465 Cf. Beschluss der CDU/CSU-Fraktion im Deutschen Bundestag vom 6. Mai 2008: Eine Sicherheitsstrategie für Deutschland, p. 9, available at: http://www.cdu.de/doc/pdfc/080506-beschluss-fraktionsicherheitsstrategie.pdf (last access: 16 July 2008).
461

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groups is needed. 466 On the opposition’s side, Green Party deputy Omid Nouripour warns that, „with the proposal for force of 60.000 troops and the reductions within the French Army, the European Security and Defence Policy could become the instrument of a French policy of military intervention“ 467. The “militarization” of the ESDP was one of the strongest arguments for the Left Party to refuse the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. 468 While there is no constant as well as consistent debate in the media or between relevant non-governmental organisations, the academic society is referring to this priority of the French Presidency in some publications. Some authors seem to be rather sceptical about the positioning of the security and defence policy on the forefront of the agenda. Especially regarding the need to persuade the Irish electorate to give the Lisbon Treaty another chance, it would not be suitable to pay too much attention to the development of 469 European troops. European Pact on Immigration and Asylum The French proposals in the context of a “European Pact for Immigration and Asylum”, which is planned to be decided upon by the Council of Ministers in October 2008, are only briefly discussed and criticised in German discussion. Although European migration and asylum policy is generally an issue of high interest among different German actors, the French ideas are less controversially argued than other priorities of the French Presidency. The French priorities mainly meet the Merkel government objectives, but are criticised by the smaller opposition parties, such as the Green Party and the Left Party. Not surprisingly,
Cf. SPD: Kurt Beck und Francois Hollande legen gemeinsame Erklärung zur Zukunft der Europäischen Union vor, press release, 3 May 2008, available at: http://www.spd.de/menu/1713270/ (last access: 16 July 2008). 467 Cf. Fraktion Bündnis 90/Grüne im Deutschen Bundestag: Keine Interventionspolitik à la Sarkozy, 18 June 2008, press release No. 0671, available at: http://www.gruenebundestag.de/cms/presse/dok/238/238938.keine_europaei sche_interventionspolitik.html (last access: 16 July 2008). 468 Cf. Die Linke Fraktion im Deutschen Bundestag: Elemente der Verfassungsklage gegen den Vertrag von Lissabon, 26 June 2008, available at: http://www.linksfraktion.de/nachricht.php?artikel=1409556 873 (last access: 16 July 2008). 469 Cf. Andreas Maurer/Daniela Schwarzer: Der Schuss vor den Bug. Frankreich muss die Prioritäten seiner EURatspräsidentschaft umgewichten, SWP-Aktuell 62/2008, available at: http://www.swpberlin.org/common/get_document.php?asset_id=5110 (last access: 16 July 2008).
466

according to several non-governmental organisations like “ProAsyl” and “Attac Germany”, the French approach for a European immigration and asylum pact is said to be too restrictive vis-á-vis immigrants from developing countries. 470 The German debate about objectives for the future of migration and asylum policy is rather of a more general nature than being focused on the French EU-Presidency’s agenda. Since political actors openly pronounced that Germany has become an immigration country, governments dealt mostly with the question of how to better integrate the population with foreign backgrounds. In fact, all political actors clearly differentiate between measures to protect against possible threats (like illegal migration, border control, the fight against terrorism and trans-national crime) and those areas where no menace can be detected (like asylum and integration policy, and the supervision of legal migration). Thus, the latter areas should instead be dealt with at the national level. However, like France, Germany is experiencing a “change in approach, from an immigration policy influenced by sovereignty and security considerations, to a policy that increasingly accepts Europe as an immigration 471 continent” . In addition, politicians recognise the growing need to stimulate legal immigration of skilled workers who are recently missing, according to national economists. 472 Thirdly, it has to be mentioned that Germany is no longer only an immigration but also an emigration country. The number of people emigrating from Germany in 2007 almost met the number of
Cf. e. g. ProAsyl: Migration und Flüchtlingsschutz im Zeichen der Globalisierung, press release, 5 June 2008, available at: http://www.proasyl.de/en/archive/pressreleases-german-only/pressedetail/news/migration_und_fluechtlingsschutz_im_zeichen _der_globalisierung/back/64/pS/1215697905/chash/3bd14 b9dc5/index.html?print=yprprprprprprprprprpprprprinter.ht ml (last access: 16 June 2008); Attac: Attac kritisiert Abschieberichtlinie als inhuman, 18 July 2008, available at: http://www.attac.de/aktuell/neuigkeiten/detailansicht/datum /2008/06/18/attac-kritisiert-abschieberichtlinie-alsinhuman-1/?no_cache=1&cHash=8804552f12 (last access: 16 July 2008). 471 Translated by the author. Catherine Withol de Wenden: Von Widersprüchen und Notwendigkeiten: Perspektiven französischer und europäischer Migrationspolitik, DGAP Analyse Frankreich 4/2008, available at: http://www.dgap.org/midcom-serveattachmentguid1dd412376c327a6412311dd9c3f47813aedabb8abb8/dgap analyse-2008_04_dewenden.pdf (last access: 16 July 2008). 472 Cf. e.g. Green Party: Zukunftschancen werden verspielt, press release No. 111/08, 16 July 2008, http://www.gruene.de/cms/default/dok/242/242489.zukunft schancen_werden_verspielt.htm (last access: 17 July 2008).
470

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those immigrating to Germany. 473 On the one hand, the latter phenomenon is due to the fact that immigration flows are constantly declining, whereas on the other hand, more and more Germans are leaving the country for workrelated reasons (about 636,857 in 2007). 474 With regard to the French EU-Presidency’s priorities, the grand coalition government particularly supports the envisaged better protection of the EU’s external borders via more and better instruments for the EU’s border security agency FRONTEX, as well as a common European asylum system. 475 Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) tries to calm down any fears of ‘a fortress Europe’. 476 Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries (SPD) admits, however, that the development of a common European Asylum Policy will be a long-lasting, “difficult” project, as national regulations for asylum are quite diverse. 477 On the contrary, the oppositional Green and Left Parties both criticise the lack of solidarity vis-àvis asylum seekers and qualify the EU migration policy as being inhumane. 478 According to the Green party, the concept of circular migration could not be realised if legal

migration is not sufficiently supported. 479 The Left Party accuses European interior ministers of aiming at Europe to become a “bunker”. 480 The media debate is quite clear in its evaluation: Although President Sarkozy’s activeness and engagement is hoped to have an accelerating effect on European integration in general, 481 the asylum pact is doubted to be the right tool and is described to be too segregated against third countries. 482 German journalists are worrying that Sarkozy’s concept of ‘protecting Europe and its citizens against all threats of globalisation’ could rather produce fears instead of the intended feeling of security. 483 It would, however, be more than necessary to attract highly qualified workers from aside the EU, as they only make up 5 percent of all immigrants coming to Europe (compared to a proportion of 55 percent migrating to the United States). 484 Interestingly, polls prove that the German public supports a leading role for the European Union in migration policy and in control of external borders. 485 Interviewees seem to concede with Sarkozy’s objective to orient the French Presidency agenda toward the (French and European) citizens’ worries, which would
Cf. press release of the Green party faction: Kontraproduktive Signale von künftigen EU-Ratsvorsitz, No. 0576, 30 May 2008, available at: http://www.gruenebundestag.de/cms/presse/dok/235/235794.html (last accessed: 16 July 2008). 480 Jan Korte (MP Left Party): Europa muss sicherer Anlaufpunkt für Menschen in Not werden, press release, 7 July 2008, available at: http://dielinke.de/die_linke/nachrichten/detail/artikel/europa-musssicherer-anlaufpunkt-fuer-menschen-in-not-werden (last access: 16 July 2008). 481 Cf. Martin Winter: Projekt “Schutzraum Europa”, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2 July 2008, available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/ausland/artikel/169/183596 (last access: 16 July 2008). 482 Cf. e.g.: Eric Bonse: Alle Schotten dicht, in: Handelsblatt, 19 June 2008, available at: http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/handelsblattkommentar/alle-schotten-dicht;1445185 (last access: 16 July 2008); Alex Rühle: Da kann ja jeder kommen, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 20 June 2008, available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/ausland/artikel/135/181574 (last access: 16 July 2008). 483 Cf. e. g. Kathrin Haimerl/Birgit Kruse/Thorsten Denkler: Sarkozy – der Angstmacher bläst die Backen auf, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1 July 2008, available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/ausland/artikel/51/183479/ (last access: 16 July 2008). 484 Cf. Joachim Fritz-Vannahme: Zuwanderer gesucht!, in: Zeit online, 2 July 2008, available at: http://www.zeit.de/online/2008/27/europa-migrationspolitik3 (last access: 16 July 2008). 485 Cf. Special Eurobarometer: The role of the European Union in Justice, Freedom and Security policy areas, February 2007, p. 13, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_266_e n.pdf (last access: 16 July 2008).
479

Cf. Newsletter Migration und Bevölkerung: Studie zur Auswanderung aus Deutschland, 8/2007, available at: www.migrationinfo.de/migration_und_bevoelkerung/artikel/070807.htm (last access 16 July 2008). 474 Cf. Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland: Wanderungen zwischen Deutschland und dem Ausland 1991 bis 2007, available at: http://www.destatis.de/jetspeed/portal/cms/Sites/destatis/In ternet/DE/Content/Statistiken/Bevoelkerung/Wanderungen/ Tabellen/Content50/WanderungenInsgesamt,templateId=r enderPrint.psml (last access: 16 July 2008). 475 Cf. Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion der FDP – Drucksache 16/9376 –, Bundestagsdrucksache 16/9556, available at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/095/1609556.pdf (last access: 16 July 2008). 476 Wolfgang Schäuble, cited according to: Zeit online: Innenminister-Konferenz. „Europa wird kein Bunker“, 8 July 2008, available at: http://www.zeit.de/online/2008/28/EU-Innenminister (last access: 16 July 2008). 477 Cf. Der Tagesspiegel: Zypries: EU-Asylpolitik wird schwierig, 8 July 2008, available at: http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/international/AsylEU;art123,2567963 (last access: 16 July 2008). 478 Cf. Green Party: Inhumanen Einwanderungspakt stoppen, press release No. 107/08, 1 July 2008, available at: http://www.gruene.de/cms/default/dok/240/240884.inhuma nen_einwanderungspakt_stoppen.htm (last access: 16 July 2008); Jan Korte (MP Left Party): Europa muss sicherer Anlaufpunkt für Menschen in Not werden, press release, 7 July 2008, available at: http://dielinke.de/die_linke/nachrichten/detail/artikel/europa-musssicherer-anlaufpunkt-fuer-menschen-in-not-werden (last access: 16 July 2008).

473

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entail more European co-operation in the fight against transnational crime, terrorism and illegal migration. In sum, German observers are unsure whether the “European Immigration and Asylum Pact” will be realisable without the Lisbon Treaty. As unanimity is still required for all Justice and Home Affairs decisions, some political scientists did not believe in French mediation capacities to make all member states agreeing upon this pact. 486 Barcelona Process: Mediterranean Union for the

Shortly after the official establishment of the Union for the Mediterranean on 13 July 2008 in Paris, German politicians and commentators fully recognized and supported this new project of EU-co-operation with its Mediterranean neighbourhood. After criticising the “dozed” Barcelona Process, the CDU-speaker of external relations, Eckart von Klaeden, welcomed Sarkozy’s initiative as a necessary approach to revive the co-operation between 487 the EU and this region. The breakthrough in relations between Syria and Lebanon led especially to a positive evaluation of Sarkozy’s engagement in the Union for the Mediterranean project by the German media. 488 In the past, the question of how to interact with Syria created some tension within the governing ‘grand coalition’ – as Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pleaded for a strengthened association, Chancellor Merkel refused to deepen relations with Syrian President Assad and his country. 489
Cf. Daniela Weingärtner: Mehr Gerangel als Glanz, in: Das Parlament, 30 June 2008, available at: http://www.bundestag.de/dasparlament/2008/27/EuropaW elt/21361049.html (last access: 16 June 2008). On the contrary, other authors are convinced that Sarkozy will concentrate on the realisation of the Pact and is likely to succeed. Cf. Andreas Maurer/Daniela Schwarzer: Der Schuss vor den Bug, SWP-Aktuell 62/2008, p. 6, available at: http://www.swpberlin.org/common/get_document.php?asset_id=5110 (last access: 16 July 2008). 487 Cf. Radio interview between Jürgen Liminiski and Eckart von Klaeden: Unionspolitiker zufrieden mit Mittelmeerunionstreffen, Deutschlandfunk, 14 July 2008, available at: http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/interview_dlf/816070/ (last access: 16 July 2008). 488 Cf. WeltOnline: Sarkozy macht sich zum Friedensstifter, 14 July 2008, available at: http://www.welt.de/welt_print/article2210607/Sarkozy_mac ht_sich_zum_Friedensstifter (last access: 17 July 2008). 489 Cf. Nikolas Busse: Anerkennung aus Deutschland, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 13 July 2008, available at: http://www.faz.net/s/RubDDBDABB9457A437BAA85A49C 26FB23A0/Doc~E67E4D2DDD6B94E2E8EB86771CE53B 604~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access at: 16 July 2008).
486

On French ‘Bastille Day’, the 14 July, the former dissonance between Germany and France, which was brought about by Sarkozy’s plans for a Mediterranean Union, seemed to be forgotten. In the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean’s official launching, French President and Foreign Minister emphasized the helpful Franco-German cooperation and Sarkozy explicitly thanked Chancellor Merkel Foreign Minister for her support. 490 Steinmeier’s positively evaluated that the Union for the Mediterranean will concentrate its activities on different concrete projects like one about solar-energy. 491 “This is a project that is particularly close to my heart”, he said. 492 Originally, Sarkozy’s plans only included a regionally restricted, closer co-operation between EU and non-EU member states that are directly located at the shores of the Mediterranean sea. Also, as he launched this first plan without consulting neither the other EU partners, nor the estimated future Union for the Mediterranean-member states, the French President was quickly confronted with several critics from different directions. The German government mainly criticised three points: Firstly, it feared a division of EU member states; between those supporting stronger ties with the European Union’s southern neighbouring countries and those aiming at a strengthened co-operation with the Eastern neighbourhood. Secondly, the link between the already existing Barcelona Process and the new initiative was missing and could have caused a duplication of structures and instruments. Thirdly, the financing of Sarkozy’s initiative was unclear, and any EU-payments for a regional project were not in German 493 interests.
Cf. Süddeutsche Zeitung: Olmert: Frieden so nah wie nie, 13 July 2008, available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/,tt3m1/ausland/artikel/138/18 5553/ (last access: 16 July 2008); n-tv online: Zufrieden in der zweiten Reihe, 14 July 2008, available at: http://www.ntv.de/Zufrieden_in_der_zweiten_Reihe_Merkel_feiert_in_P aris/140720080813/993597.html (last access: 16 July 2008). 491 Cf. Eric Bonse: Sarkozy schafft sich Freunde am Mittelmeer, in: Handelsblatt, 14 July 2008, available at: http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/international/sarkozyschafft-sich-freunde-am-mittelmeer;2011222 (last access: 16 July 2008). 492 Translated by the author. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, quoted according to a dpa message, Paris, 13 July 2008, available at: http://newsticker.welt.de/index.php?channel=new&module =dpa&id=18320376 (last access: 16 July 2008). 493 Cf. Handelsblatt: Paris verprellt Berlin mit MittelmeerUnion, 6 February 2008, available at: http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/international/paris490

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Chancellor Merkel underlined the German interest in “overtaking responsibility” not only for the EU’s eastern neighbourhood, but also for the “Mediterranean region”, 494 and Foreign Minister Steinmeier stressed that all the issues the Union for the Mediterranean was supposed to deal with were issues of common EU concern: (“control of migration flows, environment protection, trade, energy supply, fight against organised crime and terrorism”). 495 Those problems could only be overcome by the EU’s joint action instead of only regional Mediterranean co-operation. Once again, the logic of the Franco-German engine, that implies a compromise between these two partner countries becoming a feasible alternative for the EU-27, worked. After some months of irritation between both governments, 496 talks between Merkel and Sarkozy finally led to a reconciliation of German and French interests regarding the Union for the Mediterranean project. 497 They agreed that the Union for the Mediterranean should include all 27 member states, a co-chair of an EU member state and an non-EU Mediterranean state, and that it should mainly deal with common projects. The European spring Council then agreed upon the new Union for the Mediterranean project being an official revival of the Barcelona Process. 498 The only German party that still openly protested against the Union for the Mediterranean project was the generally eurosceptic Left Party. In general, mainly politicians participated in the German debate about the upcoming Union for the Mediterranean. The German media debate was strongly focused on the original tensions between Berlin and Paris because of the solo attempt of Sarkozy at the beginning. At a later
verprellt-berlin-mit-mittelmeer-union;1387425 (last access: 16 July 2008). 494 Cf. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Sarkozy: Freundschaft verewigen, 31 January 2008, p. 7. 495 Translated by the author. Cf. Frank-Walter Steinmeier in an interview with the Agyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, 23 April 2008, available at: www.auswaertigesamt/diplo/de/infoservice/presse/interviews/2008/080423html (last access: 16 July 2008). 496 Cf. e.g. Financial Times: Merkel rebuffs Sarkozy on Mediterranean Plan, 31 January 2008. 497 Cf. Press statements of Merkel and Sarkozy, Hannover, 3 March 2008, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/nn_1516/Content/DE/Mitsc hrift/Pressekonferenzen/2008/03/2008-03-03-pk-merkelsarkozy.html (last access: 16 July 2008). 498 Cf. Council of the European Union: Presidency conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 13/14 March 2008, 20 May 2008, p. 20, available at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pr essData/en/ec/99410.pdf (last access: 16 July 2008).

stage, it mainly questions whether Sarkozy will be able to withdraw from playing a dominant (French) role in the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean. Conclusion: German position regarding the French Presidency In summary, the German position regarding the French Presidency has to be evaluated against the background of the special relationship between both countries. The regular meetings between authorities on all levels in the forefront of the French Presidency prove the importance of bilateral consulting. Both sides estimate this constant exchange as precondition to reach agreements within the whole Union. Due to the negative Irish referendum, as in most other countries, the German concerns about certain aspects of the French agenda slightly shifted. First of all, the future of the Lisbon Treaty became the main issue in political debates about the further developments of the EU. Besides, the implementation of the “Climate and Energy Package” remains one of the major topics for German as well as French actors. All other priorities such as migration, defence, agricultural and economic policy are less vividly discussed. Sarkozy’s initiative for a Mediterranean Union was first critically received, especially in the media, but earned more positive feedback after the FrancoGerman compromise in January 2008. European External Action Service At present, discussions about the concrete shape of the European External Action Service (EEAS) are most intense at the governmental level. Inside the German Foreign Ministry (“Auswärtiges Amt”) both those in charge of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) (“Political Department 2”) and in the task force on the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty in the “European Department” are heavily involved in the planning of the EEAS details. Parliament has taken some interest in the issue during the ratification procedure of the Lisbon Treaty, while the wider public is not involved. The Committee on European Affairs organised several hearings with experts on the results of the intergovernmental conference. One of them was devoted to CFSP issues including the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the EEAS. In addition opposition parties in the

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German parliament (“Deutscher Bundestag”) – the Left Party (“Die Linke”) and the Liberals (FDP) – made formal parliamentary requests to the government on the EEAS. While the former issued some concern about another ‘militarization’ of the EU through integrating the ESDP institutions into the EEAS, 499 the FDP request focused on the consistency question. 500 Particular emphasis was put on a strengthened role of the High Representative and the support function of the EEAS against too large of a role of the future President of the European Council. Though being supportive of the Lisbon Treaty provisions on the CFSP in principal, the Christian-Democratic CDU faction (as one of the coalition parties) in the “Deutscher Bundestag” favoured the integration of the EEAS into the European Commission. In line with its integrationist approach, the ChristianDemocrats thus supports the proposal of the European Parliament while the government’s considerations are rejected as being neither 501 functionally nor politically desirable. In line with its previous considerations in the aftermath of the Constitutional Treaty, the German government wishes to see the EEAS as a sui generis creation. This implies something new which has to be strongly oriented towards the functions of the future High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as defined in the Lisbon Treaty, and it must operate under
Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion DIE LINKE, Bundestagsdrucksache 16/8557, available under: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/085/1608557.pdf (last access: 23 September 2008). See also the answer of the federal government: Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion DIE LINKE – Drucksache 16/8557 –, Bundestagsdrucksache 16/8713, available under: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/087/1608713.pdf (last access: 23 September 2008). 500 Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion der FDP, Bundestagsdrucksache 16/9174, available under: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/091/1609174.pdf (last access: 23 September 2008). See also the answer of the federal government: Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion der FDP – Drucksache 9174 –, Bundestagsdrucksache 16/9316, available under: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/093/1609316.pdf (last access: 23 September 2008); Alexander Graf Lambsdorff: Europäischer Auswärtiger Dienst – alle Fragen offen!, press release, 27 May 2008, available under: http://www.europa.fdp.de/presse.php?id=19299&presse_y =2008 (last access: 23 September 2008). 501 Michael Stübgen (CDU): Europäischer Auswärtiger Dienst muss bei der EU-Kommission angebunden werden, press release, 24 April 2008, available under: http://www.presseportal.de/pm/7846/1178475/cdu_csu_% 20bundestagsfraktion (last access: 23 September 2008).
499

his/her authority. According to the German government, the basic parameters of the new ‘creature’ have to be defined in a comprehensive way in advance, even though the implementation of the EEAS may be more evolutionary due to budgetary restraints, diverging concepts among the 27 and even more so after the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty. The German government underlines the equality of the EEAS personnel in disregard of its origin, and claims an even distribution of the posts between those officials coming from the Council Secretariat, the European Commission and the national diplomatic services. Equal status implies that officials from the member states can be posted both in the EEAS in Brussels and in the EU delegations abroad. In budgetary terms the total EEAS staff should be financed from the EU-budget. The “Auswärtiges Amt” is highly interested in being represented in the EEAS right from the beginning and in an “appropriate” way i.e. in leading positions as well.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Greece ∗
(Greek Centre of European Studies and Research)

French Presidency priorities correspond closely to Greek ones The goals of the French EU-Presidency are seen at first as over-ambitious – almost of a Gaulistic character – but with a tendency to be watered down little by little. 502 In any event, the priorities of the French Presidency correspond closely to areas of major interest in Greek public discourse. Moreover, there have been recent points of political convergence between Greece and France (most importantly for Greece: coordination of positions in the Bucharest 2008 spring NATO Summit over the controversial issue of FYROM 503 joining the Alliance, where the Greek veto was openly supported by France) which increased the visibility of French initiatives in Greek public opinion and made for an overall feeling of joint positioning in international fora. Of the priorities declared by Paris, energy is of major interest for Greece – especially from an energy security point of view – due to its recent
∗

Greek Centre of European Studies and Research. See the newspaper TO VIMA, 17 July 2008. 503 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
502

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openings to ‘pipeline foreign policy’. Greece is actively participating in oil and gas pipeline projects (namely the “Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline” and the “South Stream gas projects”), through which Russian energy flows towards the EU are to increase. Given US warnings against ‘increased dependence from Russian oil and gas’, Athens is very much interested in putting its energy policy in a European/EU-setting. Immigration has always been a topic of interest for Greece, since the country is a main point of entry for economic migrants from Balkan countries, but more importantly from ex-Soviet countries (the Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia) and also from the Near and Middle East (Syria, Egypt, Iraq – up to Pakistan and Afghanistan) and Africa. There has been a recent sharp increase in migratory flows, which in part use Greece as an entry point to the EU, coming mainly through Turkey across the Aegean to the several Greek islands and long mainland coasts. Efforts to rationalise such migratory flows have been unsuccessful, while the proportion of illegal/unregistered aliens remaining and seeking work in Greece is increasing. Thus, there is mounting social pressure to ‘do something’ about immigration (although up to now no flare-ups of the Italian sort have been noticed) and any EU initiative in which national measures could be inserted is most welcome politically. As to defence policy, the never-ending security problems that Greece faces in its part of the world keep it a steady supporter of a wider and more active EU defence policy, notwithstanding the fact that special Greek interests (e.g. over the FYROM issue, GreekTurkish relations, the Cyprus issue) keep Athens wary of any majority voting in Common Foreign and Security Policy matters. For Greece, building up a ‘European’ defence capacity is mainly viewed as an overall security umbrella over EU member states. Last but not least, Greek concerns run high as to what moves and initiatives will come from the French Presidency to salvage the Reform Treaty following the Irish ‘No’. The Greek Parliament initiated ratification proceedings for the Lisbon Treaty hours before the Irish referendum; the issue came to the forefront of public attention due to a row within the Socialists (“PASOK”) as to whether Greek ratification should proceed through a Parliament vote or by referendum.

Thus, the issue of the institutional future of the EU has gained sudden political interest in Greece – both among the elites and in public opinion. The next steps of Brussels but also of the French Presidency are closely watched.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Hungary ∗
(Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

Hungary appreciates French Presidency priorities For Hungary, a member state who will participate in the next trio presidency, all the present priorities announced by the French EU-Presidency are of high importance and their special treatment is welcome. In regards to the environment, energy and climate issues, 504 at the ministerial meeting on the 3th until 5th of July, all member states – including Hungary – reinforced their earlier commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 2020. Beyond the agreement on principle however, it is rather difficult for most of the new member states to fully comply with the target. On this point, Hungary would not like to slow down the negotiations leading to the final agreement by the end of the year, but would like to draw attention to the efforts Hungary already made between 1990 and 2005. According to Hungarian diplomats, the new member states need longer time and more investments to introduce clean technologies, which should be taken into account when calculating the emission trading system (ETS) quota. From this point of view Hungary does not support the Commission allowing Austria, Luxembourg, Spain and Italy to increase emissions by 2020 even above their Kyoto target. Hungary would also support the formula whereby 20 percent of the gains from ETS could be re-channelled to the new member states – against the 10 percent approach of most of the old members. As far as immigration is concerned, Hungary has always been supporting a joint strategy and financial solidarity at the EU level. Europe is facing on the one hand huge immigration
Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. 504 See: http://kitekinto.hu/global/2008/07/06/klimavedelmi_minicsu cs_magyarorszag_is_erdekelt (last access: 28 August 2008). 505 See an article on this in the Hungarian daily, Népszabadság, available under: http://nol.hu/alternativ/cikk/498304/ (last access: 28 August 2008).
∗

505

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pressures, and on the other hand an increasing need for a larger labour force due to an aging population. Hungary agrees with the French Presidency that these aspects should somehow be reconciled, that is why the Hungarian Minister has also endorsed the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum in Cannes (a document to be finally adopted at the October summit). Hungary is currently presiding over the so-called “Salzburg Forum” (comprising Austria, the “Visegrad Group” 506, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Croatia) aiming at tightening cooperation in the field of immigration. In the status of acting president, Hungary has also been expressing the views of these states when it lent support for the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum. Furthermore, Hungary deems it important that the European labour market be fully liberalised first among the 27 member states, and only thereafter should the European Union widen the entrance vis-à-vis third country job seekers. Regarding security and defence policy, in the 507 Hungarian view, it is time to revise the 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS) with an outlook towards rendering it more concise, simpler and more focused. The revised ESS should be concentrating on a renewed European Security and Defence Policy marked by the systematic reinforcement of the European Union’s civil and military capacities. It seems that there is an increasing need in the world for crisis management, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions to which the EU should be able to respond via quantitative and qualitative upgrading of its capacities. Thus the new ESS must reflect these reinforced commitments of the European Union. In regards to the EU’s tighter relations with the Mediterranean region, Hungary supports this idea although the new system of relations should be filled with substance during the presidency. Hungary deems it important that the new initiative for enhanced partnership between the European Union and the Mediterranean partners will occur in the EU framework and not outside of it (i.e. embracing only the seaside states).

Regarding the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the official Hungarian position has not been made available yet. At the same time, the major interest of Hungary in this respect can be summarised as follows: Hungary is interested in a sustainable CAP which would still be based on the initial fundamental principles of a common market, Community preference and financial solidarity. 508 At the same time, Hungary also acknowledges the importance of sustainable finances supporting the CAP. This is why Budapest would be interested in the following elements of a new reform: further decreasing the regulated agricultural prices, abolishing the quantitative restrictions on production, full decoupling of direct payments accompanied with ‘cautious’ modulation (not endangering the competitiveness of larger farms). Hungary is fundamentally interested in a system that would not go on limiting production but would pave the way for competitive specialisation. In addition, Hungary always supports increased EU assistance to rural development. With cited interests, Hungary is somewhere between the ‘London group’ urging thorough CAP reform (i.e. the UK, the Scandinavian states and the Netherlands) and the ‘traditionalists’ wanting to preserve the present system (e.g. France, Spain or Greece). In fact, Hungary can be flexible enough to contribute to common European compromises with regards to the CAP of the future. Finally, concerning economic growth and employment the improvement of the situation is a must in Hungary, where both GDP growth and employment are among the lowest in the EU-27. In Hungary more and more experts share the view that the EU should have stronger competences under both policy areas pushing the member states towards more dynamic growth coupled with sustainable public finances and accompanied with increasing employments rates. Options for the creation of a European External Action Service Hungary would prefer a European External Action Service (EEAS) effectively coordinating all aspects of the Union’s external relations – be it economic, development-type or foreign

See the web site of the “Visegrad Group” under: http://www.visegradgroup.eu/main.php?folderID=858 (last access: 28 August 2008). 507 The answers regarding defence and the Mediterranean are based on an interview with a high official of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

506

The answer is based on an expert report ordered by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 2007, which is available in Hungarian language under: http://www.vki.hu/kulkapcs/KAP.pdf (last access: 28 August 2008).

508

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and security policy related. 509 The EEAS should be a ‘sui generis’ independent institution, led by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. It should be financed by the common budget and should comprise officials/diplomats from the Commission and the Council’s Secretariat General (together 2/3) and from the member states (1/3). While it is regulated by the Lisbon Treaty that the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy would be the Vice-President of the Commission and would chair the Foreign Affairs Council, the chairmanships of the approx. 30 working groups under this broad policy area remain to be settled. In this respect the Hungarian view is that working groups like the ones on enlargement, European Neighbourhood Policy, external trade, or development, as well as defence and Petersberg-type missions should be chaired by the presiding country, while the EEAS representative could chair working groups dealing with multilateral relations or human rights.

legislative proposals aimed at achieving the ambitious targets set during last year’s German Presidency. It is hoped that the package can be finalised by December’s meeting of the European Council. The directive on energy efficiency has been singled out as a key element of this package by the French. At July’s Energy Council, Ireland supported the Council decision to make energy efficiency the cornerstone of the EU’s carbon reduction policy and the decision to improve the energy performance of buildings and products. The issue of whether there should be a legally-binding 20 percent target for energy efficiency by 2020 was contested with the UK, Germany and Poland in favour of introducing flexibility in reaching the objective of 20 percent energy efficiency. On the issue of energy efficiency in buildings, positive steps have been taken since the Council initiated by the Irish Minister for Energy announced a new 9 million Euro grant scheme for developments. Houses under the scheme will use 70 percent less energy and be responsible for 70 percent less emissions and will be eligible for an ‘A2 Building Energy Rating’. Speaking at the launch of the scheme, Minister Eamon Ryan declared “the threat of climate change and the impacts of rising oil, gas and electricity prices mean that we must aim for the very highest efficiency standards possible, while tackling the carbon emissions 510 from our electricity use in the home.” The renewables directive also was a topic of discussion in the Council meeting. The French Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Country Planning, JeanLouis Borloo, clarified that the 2020 target for 10 percent biofuels in transport refers to all renewable sources of energy: hydrogen, electricity etc. The 27 member states decided to include sustainability criteria for biofuels in two legislative texts currently under discussion: the renewables directive and that on fuel quality. In the middle of July, a paper from the Irish Labour Party called on the Irish government to reduce its target of 5.75 percent biofuels in transport fuel by 2010 and 10 percent by 2020, in light of negative recent reports from the World Bank and the British Government. The paper also called on Ireland to lead the drive towards a complete review of
See: http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Press+Releases/Minister+Ryan+la unches+Low+Carbon+Housing+Scheme.htm (last access: 22 September 2008).
510

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Ireland ∗
(Institute of International and European Affairs)

No severe concerns regarding the presidency’s agenda The French government assumes the chair of the Council of the European Union in wake of the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty. None of the official French priorities, however, require the enactment of that treaty to become operable. The rejection of the Lisbon Treaty does require France to mediate further negotiations among the member states on the next steps. Energy/climate change Climate change and energy policy are two priority areas for the French Presidency. Policies in both areas increasingly overlap and in recognition of this, the French held a joint informal meeting for both European Energy and Environment Ministers in Paris on 4-5 July. The French are determined to sign off on the European Council’s Energy and Climate Change Package of last January, outlining its
The answer given here is based on an interview with a high official of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ∗ Institute of International and European Affairs.
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EU targets on biofuels and guarantees that biofuels are fully traceable. Following on from this paper and other pressures both domestic and international, the Irish Minister disclosed that he had abandoned the plan to have biofuels make up 5.75 percent of all transport fuel by 2010. Explicitly on climate change, the ministers discussed the meeting in Poznan, Poland at the end of 2008 working towards agreement at Copenhagen in December 2009. Immigration The Irish government has expressed its support for the planned reforms in principle. A spokesman for Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said that the government could envisage signing up for the reforms after closer examination and debate of the individual 511 aspects of the proposals. While the Minister for Justice is “favourably disposed” to the proposals, there are some aspects of the reforms that the government may opt out of along with Britain. 512 This reflects the historical cooperation between the Irish and British governments in the common travel area and the fact that Ireland is not in the Schengen zone. Minister Ahern stated that the initiative undertaken by the French Presidency “sends a strong signal that 27 countries can move together on the issue [...] while respecting each country’s own competence.” 513 Irish opinion also recognises the significance of the French Presidency proposals. The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 514, currently before the Irish parliament (“Dáil”) received criticism from many sides, who claimed that the measures contained were excessively strict. The European Pact for Immigration and Asylum, and the measures contained may be used as a means of justifying these strict measures in the proposed Irish legislation. All governments have a right to regulate who enters their jurisdiction, however wealthy countries have a
Jamie Smyth: Ireland may crack down on illegal immigration, The Irish Times, 7 July 2008. 512 RTE News: EU agrees immigration proposal, 8 July 2008. 513 Jamie Smyth: Proposal for EU police in tourist areas, The Irish Times, 8 July 2008. 514 Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008, Bill Number 2 of 2008. See: http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=8701&&CatI D=59 (last access: 22 September 2008).
511

responsibility to share and Ireland’s record of treatment of asylum seekers has not always been positive. Creating a fortress Europe is not the answer, according to an opinion article in “The Irish Times”. 515 The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland noted that the draft EU proposals appeared to “emphasise a tightening up of Europe’s borders.” The organisation believes that due to the vital role that immigrants play in our workplaces and communities, they are important and not “disposable objects.” During the government debates on the proposed measures they urged the Minister to “advocate for humane and practical solutions, including 516 regularisation.” Defence Ireland, as a country with a policy of military neutrality, maintains its traditional position that any action in the framework of the European Union regarding defence and security policy must respect the specific character of the autonomous defence policy of each member state. Future of the common agricultural policy The current global food crisis has given added impetus to the need to reform the agricultural sector in the EU, which is criticised as being overly protected and over-subsidised. The European Commission published its ‘health check’ on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2008, paving the way for an eventual reform in 2013. This reform will be a delicate task for the French Presidency. According to Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the European agricultural sector will remain a well-protected industry in spite of future liberalisation. Due to historical affiliations with agricultural sector, Ireland is particularly interested in the results of the ‘health check’ of the CAP and in how the eventual reform will be handled. And the current WTO talks are regarded as one of the indicators as to how those reforms may go. The “Irish Farmers’ Association” (IFA, the largest Irish agricultural lobby) has expressed concerns over the direction of WTO talks, in particular with the proposed tariff cuts for the

The Irish Times: The EU and Immigration, Opinion, 8 July 2008. 516 Metro Eireann: Consider regularisation of illegal immigrants, migrant group urges, 10 July 2008.

515

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beef industry. 517 The IFA does however, appreciate the fact that France’s position with regards to European Commissioner Peter Mandelson’s proposals and priorities for CAP reform seem to be in line with their understanding of Irish interests. 518 Irish Minister for Agriculture, Brendan Smith, has said that the government is also concerned about the impact of agricultural tariff cuts proposed in WTO negotiations, 519 and will continue to raise its concerns, which it shares with France and several other EU members states. Economic growth and employment With Ireland facing a downturn in its economy, 520 the priorities of the French Presidency on economic growth and employment have been particular welcome. The trio of measures designed to restore confidence and security to the international markets in the form of regulation of credit ratings agencies; the adoption of Solvency II; and better coordination between regulators in the EU, were proposals welcomed by Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, at the ECOFIN meeting on 8 July 2008. The decision by French Minister of Economy, Industry and Employment Christine Lagarde not to push forward plans for a common consolidated corporate tax base during the French Presidency has been welcomed by the business community, including “Irish Business Employer’s association”. The Irish government has broadly welcomed EU attempts towards the regulation of credit ratings agencies though they are waiting for concrete proposals to be put on the table. The Irish government do recognise that regulation at the EU level is far more effective than at national level. That it is the European Commissioner from Ireland, Charlie McCreevy, pushing the agenda forward has been receiving much positive press attention.

Solvency II also has the support of the Irish government. In a recent speech, Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, commented that “the efficient allocation of capital which I appreciate is a very important issue for the insurance industry”. He continued by saying “By adopting this approach Solvency II is incentivising risk management and is providing the platform for a more efficient marketplace which should benefit industry and consumer alike”. 521 (). As the key stakeholders and industry were consulted before any decision was taken at the EU level, their interests were represented and thus they view the proposal positively. In the past, the Irish government has been vocal in the support of the independence of the ECB. In January 2007, the then Minister for Finance and now Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, warned the French government to stop 522 More recently he interfering with the ECB. stated that “We respect the independence of the ECB. It has a mandate in relation to price stability to fulfil. It has done that very successfully in my opinion.” 523 However, opposition finance spokesperson, Richard Bruton, has called on the ECB to adopt a more nuanced strategy as ‘stagflation’ is a “major fear”. 524 Union for the Mediterranean Official reaction to the envisaged Union for the Mediterranean is positive, with Prime Minister Brian Cowen declaring that “this forum will provide a stronger basis from which EU and Mediterranean partners can cooperate on responses to common challenges, for example on climate change and security of food supplies.” As Ireland is not a state in the immediate proximity of the Mediterranean, the establishment of the Union for the Mediterranean is seen as an important step in
See: http://www.finance.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=5352&CatI D=54&StartDate=1+January+2008&m=p (last access: 22 September 2008). 522 Bernard Purcell: Cowen tells the French to lay off the ECB on rates, independent.ie, 31 January 2007, available under: http://www.independent.ie/business/european/cowen-tellsthe-french-to-lay-off-the-ecb-on-rates-62193.html (last access: 22 September 2008). 523 Deaglán De Bréadún: Taoiseach seeks review of Ireland-US relationship, The Irish Times, 19 July 2008, available under: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/0719/1 216398986738.html (last access: 22 September 2008). 524 See: http://www.finegael.ie//PubUploads/RBRUTON%20JULY% 203.doc (last access: 22 September 2008).
521

Jamie Smyth: Mandelson denies he is 'selling out' beef industry, Irish Times, 28 July 2008. 518 Martin Ryan: IFA criticises EU's stance at world trade talks, Irish Times, 4 July 2008. 519 Jamie Smyth: Mandelson denies he is 'selling out' beef industry, Irish Times, 28 July 2008. 520 Alan Ahearne/Juan Delgado/Jakob von Weizsäcker: A Tail of Two Countries, bruegelpolicybrief 04/2008, available under: http://www.bruegel.org/7980 (last access: 22 September 2008); Alan Barrett/Ide Kearney/Martin O’Brian: Quarterly Economic Commentary, Summer 2008, available under: http://www.esri.ie/UserFiles/publications/20080623114553/ QEC2008Sum.pdf (last access: 22 September 2008).

517

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multilateral governance but immediate priority for Ireland.

not

as

an

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Italy ∗
(Istituto Affari Internazionali)

France a key country for the EU The French EU-Presidency was welcomed by the Italian press as a possible breakthrough in the EU reform process, mainly due to the political activism and strong leadership of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. However, opinions on the new presidency changed considerably after the Irish referendum. In particular, the work programme of the incoming presidency in the four priority areas – energy/climate, immigration, Common Agricultural Policy, and security and defence – has been defined as an ambitious project which should probably be downsized in consideration of the stalemate in the EU reform process, linked to the outcome of the Irish 525 The French projects on the Union for vote. the Mediterranean and on the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum have already been narrowed, and it seems that the French proposals in the field of security and defence will meet the same fate. 526 It was said that Sarkozy started his six-month mandate with the promise of a modest and consensual presidency based on agreements with other EU member states, and to work together with the EU institutions and rapprochement with EU citizens. However, the Italian press has noted that the French President considerably modified its tones after the failed referendum. Several examples have been quoted in which the French President betrayed his initial intentions. For example, he stated forcefully to the Polish and Czech governments that any further enlargement to Eastern Europe would be blocked if the Lisbon Treaty were not ratified, while reaffirming his 527 opposition to the entry of Turkey in the EU. He attacked the European commissioner for
Istituto Affari Internazionali. Dipartimento Politiche Comunitarie, Presidenza UE, st inizia semestre francese, 1 of July 2008, available under: http://www.politichecomunitarie.it/comunicazione/15989/pr th esidenza-ue-inizia-semestre-francese (last access: 28 of August 2008). 526 nd La Repubblica: Ue: Sarkozy all’attacco di Varsavia, 2 of July 2008, available under: http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/20 08/07/02/ue-sarkozy-all-attacco-di-varsavia.html (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 527 Ibid.
525 ∗

External Trade, Peter Mandelson, for his conduct at the WTO negotiations. Moreover, he strongly criticised the policy of the European Central Bank (ECB), particularly with concern to the decision to increase interest rates, and accused the president of the ECB, Jean-Claude Trichet, of overlooking the urgent issue of economic growth, focusing excessively on the problem of inflation. 528 Some space has been devoted by the Italian press to his decision to participate in the opening of the Olympic games in China on August 8th, underlining the change in his attitude towards the Chinese government after the G8 meeting in Japan. It has been noted how his recognition of the need for a strategic partnership with China, also related to the Darfur and Iranian crises, has replaced his declarations in favour of the protection of human rights in Tibet. However, it has been recalled that he will meet the Dalai Lama during his trip to China. 529 France is still considered a key country for the EU by Italian commentators, both in positive and in negative terms. According to some, France could relaunch the EU reform process, by leading a core group of countries that are willing and able to be at the forefront of a new Europe, while leaving the door open to the other member states. 530 It is acknowledged that the Franco-German tandem can no longer be considered the motor of European integration. However, Germany is still considered the only credible partner for France in the EU. Italy cannot replace it at this time, due to its political weakness at the European level, even if Sarkozy seems to share values and ideas with the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. These commonalities include an Atlantic attitude in international relations, as well as a similar approach to European issues, in particular, the necessity to overcome the current stalemate by bringing Europe closer to
Corriere della Sera: I banchieri e il semestre di Sarkò, st 1 of July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IKHQ7 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 529 Corriere della Sera: Sarko ai Giochi, Dubbi a th Strasburgo. Ma Pechino non mi detta l’agenda, 11 July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IO1VX (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 530 La Repubblica: Sarkozy e i frettolosi becchini nd dell’Europa, 2 of July 2008, available under: http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/20 08/07/02/sarkozy-frettolosi-becchini-dellth europa.039sarkozy.html (last access: 28 of August 2008).
528

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its citizens and making the EU able to respond to such urgent issues as the rise in the price of oil and the increase in the cost of living. 531 Recently, they also expressed the same disappointment for the outcome of the EU’s conduct in the framework of the WTO negotiations. 532 The Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, has expressed some concerns on the French President’s reservations concerning the integration of Turkey into the EU. Frattini exhorted the French EU-Presidency to send a positive political signal to the negotiations with Turkey during its mandate. 533 The attitude of the main opposition party, the “Partito Democratico”, towards the new EUpresidency is also characterised by a sense of trust, even if from a different perspective. As expressed by one of the Democratic Party’s candidates for the European elections, Beatrice Biagini, France considers the deadlock in European integration as a risk, because it would represent a blow to Sarkozy’s political-institutional action and at the same time signal France’s inability to face the new challenges at the international level effectively. Therefore, in order to reaffirm its international role more than to pursue a genuine Europeanism, France will try to make the most 534 of its mandate. Options for the establishment European External Action Service of a

and, together with other member states (in particular Germany and Spain), strongly pursuing discussion during the six-month mandate of the Slovenian EU-Presidency. 535 Other member states, like France and the UK, seem more interested in reinforcing the role of the new President of the European Council and his competences in foreign policy. Italy sees the EEAS as a sui generis structure, and not an institution, linked to both the Council Secretariat and the European Commission but with an autonomous status (as concerns both its budget and composition), under the authority of the new High Representative/Vice-President of the European Commission. Italy opposes the idea of transforming the EEAS into an EU agency, as this would hamper the service’s independence, especially vis-à-vis the European Commission. Italy’s original intent was to define the following aspects of the EEAS by the end of 2008 and before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty: legal status, modalities to ensure budgetary and management autonomy, together with autonomy in the selection of personnel, structure and competences, composition and relations with EU delegations in third states. However, this deadline has been postponed in consideration of the outcome of the Irish referendum. Concerning the composition of the EEAS, Italy insists on the need to have both functionaries from the EU institutions in Brussels and diplomats from the national capitals, ensuring the regular rotation of personnel. Italy also aims for parity of treatment (both in legal terms and as concerns salary) for the service’s personnel (coming from the European Commission, the Council or the member states), where the functionaries will have the status of temporary agents. Merit should be the primary selection criteria for the future members of the EEAS, while geographic balance has also been underlined as an important aspect by Italy and Spain, together with other small and new member states. The tasks of the EEAS, in the Italian view, should include all the competencies of the new High Representative/Vice-President of the European Commission and cover the full spectrum of the EU’s external policies: it is indeed unconceivable to reduce the mandate of the EEAS to Common Foreign and Security
This contribution mainly relies on interviews conducted with diplomats at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
535

The creation of a European External Action Service (EEAS) to support the future High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is one of the key aspects of the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. Italy is devoting particular attention to this issue
L’Occidentale: L’asse Sarkozy-Berlusconi sarà il motore th della nuova UE, 20 of June 2008, available under: http://www.loccidentale.it/articolo/irlanda+rimandata+a+ott obre,+l%E2%80%99asse+sark%C3%B2berlusconi+potr%C3%A0+essere+il+motore+della+nuova+ th europa.0053310 (last access: 28 of August 2008). 532 Il Giornale: Wto, Italia e Francia fanno fronte comune, th 28 of July 2008, p. 18, available under: th http://www.ilgiornale.it/a.pic1?ID=279025 (last access: 28 of August 2008). 533 Diregiovani.ue: Ue: Frattini: Da Sarkozy mi aspetto nd segnali su ingresso Turchia, 2 of July 2008, available under: http://www.diregiovani.it/gw/producer/dettaglio.aspx?id_do th c=12841 (last access: 28 of August 2008). 534 News Italia Press: Una Francia determinata alla nd presidenza dell’Unione europea, 2 of July 2008, available under: http://www.newsitaliapress.it/pages/dettaglio.php?id_lnk=6 th _2913 (last access: 28 of August 2008).
531

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Policy only. The new service should include regional offices and thematic offices dealing with certain issues. Only trade policy, together with development and enlargement activities, should rest outside the scope of the EEAS. In any case, it is important to avoid duplications of EEAS offices, both within the Council Secretariat and the European Commission. The nature of the relations between the new service and EU delegations in third countries remains rather controversial. The most logical solution would be to structure the EU delegations on the model of the current permanent representations of member states to the EU, with a head of representation and diplomats from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs that work with other experts coming from different administrations. An agreement should be found on the composition of the personnel in the delegations, defining which part of the personnel should come from the EEAS and which part should be maintained as it is at the moment.

• • •

European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP); completion of the Doha Round discussions so that an accord is in place before the end of 2008; development cooperation policy

At first glance, the above list appears to differ considerably from the priorities announced by the French Presidency. While the Latvian foreign ministry’s document deals with defence and the Union for the Mediterranean, it does not appear to address directly such issues as energy/climate, immigration, the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, economic growth and employment. The other differences that stand out are the inclusion by Latvia of several topics not highlighted in France’s list, such as the EU’s strategy in the Baltic Sea region, EU enlargement and the Western Balkans, EU and Russia, Transatlantic relations, the Doha Round and Development cooperation policy. Closer examination of Latvia’s foreign policy and Latvia’s reaction to priorities announced by previous EU-presidencies suggest that the Latvian document was formulated more as an ‘aide-mémoire’ for the presiding country, rather than a list of demands. It is, therefore, safe to surmise that in January 2009, Latvia will not use these differences as a pretext to issue a critical assessment of France’s Presidency. Considering the French priorities as a whole, it is also quite clear that they are neither exclusive nor exhaustive: these topics are the ones to which Paris would like to draw attention, but they are not the only important matters that it expects to deal with. Clearly, just as Latvia, France is interested in enhancing Europe’s role in the world and, therefore, relations with the United States and the Russian Federation will figure prominently on its agenda. Closer examination of Latvia’s policy statements and actions also reveals many similarities with the French Presidency’s priorities, both in terms of content and general assessment of particular issues and how best to resolve them. Thus it is that energy and climate issues, Common Agricultural Policy, economic growth and employment are also among the foremost concerns of the 537 government and parliament in Riga. There is
These concerns are reflected in the statement of 29 July 2008 by Latvia’s cabinet of ministers on the Slovenian and French Presidencies. See http://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/eu/news/4341/?pg=10713 (last access: 10 September 2008).
537

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Latvia ∗
(Latvian Institute of International Affairs)

Latvia’s views on the French presidency’s priorities for the European Union and the future of the EU Focus on neighbourhood foreign affairs policy and

The ministry of Foreign affairs published in July a document setting forth its position on those issues considered to be particularly relevant for Latvia during the period of the French EUpresidency. 536 The document addresses the following major issues: • the Lisbon Treaty; • the European Neighbourhood Policy; • the EU’s strategy in the Baltic Sea region; • EU enlargement and the Western Balkans; • EU and Russia; • Transatlantic relations;
Latvian Institute of International Affairs. The document is available in Latvian and is called Latvijai būtiskākie jautājumi ārlietu jomā Francijas ES prezidentūras laikā 2008. gada otrajā pusē (The most significant foreign affairs issues for Latvia during the French presidency of the EU in the second half of 2008). For the full text see http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/eu/Prioritates/FrancijasPrezidentur a/ (last access: 10 September 2008).
536 ∗

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also agreement with the deep concern over the situation in Georgia, particularly after the Russian invasion, and the belief that the EU must play a key role leading to the peaceful resolution of the military conflict that has beset the country. Furthermore, for Latvia Georgia is one of the focal countries of its development co-operation program and in the context of European Neighbourhood Policy. Therefore, Latvia welcomes President Sarkozy’s efforts to obtain a cease-fire and Chancellor Merkel’s firm reminder to President Medvedev on the prompt and complete withdrawal of Russian soldiers from Georgia. Of ever-increasing relevance in Latvia are also the myriad issues related to migration, the protection of citizens, immigration and asylum, all the more so because so many Latvians are now working in Western Europe, especially in Ireland and Great Britain and the first residents of Georgia asking for political asylum came to Latvia in early August. Concerning the Lisbon Treaty, currently there is no discussion going on in Latvia about some of the more specific aspects of the treaty, such as the proposed creation of a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy or the nature of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The response to Question 1 reflects the main concerns of the population and the views of the Foreign Ministry: under the French Presidency ways must be sought to bring the Lisbon Treaty into effect; hence, the ratification process should continue, regardless of the results of the Irish referendum. The EU must treat with respect the decision of the Irish people and analyse carefully what happened in Ireland in order to find a solution. For Latvia, it is crucial that the EU does not become fragmented in the solution-seeking and solution-implementation processes; thus, the solution that is needed is one that promotes a united Europe, rather than a Europe of ‘several speeds’. Regarding the Policy, Latvia proposals: European Neighbourhood offers several concrete

3.

4.

5.

6.

supports the idea of an EU-Ukraine free trade area. Concerning Georgia, the EU should continue the work toward easing the visa formalities with Georgia; find a way to broaden the base internationally for the solution to the problems related to Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia; support Georgia’s initiative of March 28 for a peaceful solution to the conflict with Abkhazia; after a feasibility study, the EU should decide on more effective ways to foster Georgia’s economic integration, including a free trade agreement. Before the parliamentary elections in Belarus, the EU should give an unequivocal signal that it expects these elections to conform to internationally accepted, democratic norms. Latvia wants to develop regional cooperation with the EU’s neighbours. Consequently Latvia supports the Polish-Swedish Eastern Partnership initiative. One form of co-operation would involve the European Parliament and would be between the EU member states’ parliaments and the parliaments of the neighbouring countries. Although co-operation with the EU’s neighbours to the East is one of Latvia’s policy priorities, Latvia firmly believes that the ENP and its implementation must be balanced. This means that the EU must be equally attentive to all its neighbours, whether to the East or the South, and this attention should not vacillate when the EU-presidency changes. Consistent with this outlook, Latvia participates actively in the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Barcelona Process and welcomes the new opportunities for further cooperation that should come from the Union for the Mediterranean.

1. A decision must be taken on the preparation of the negotiation mandate for the new EU-Moldova agreement. 2. A wide-ranging agreement is needed in order to buttress the legal basis for deepening the EU’s relations with Ukraine. In this context, Latvia

The focal points of the EU’s strategy in the Baltic Sea region, according to Latvia, should be energy, ability to compete, education, science and culture; environment, and social security. This strategy should promote better use of EU financial resources for Baltic Sea regional initiatives. For its effective implementation, the strategy reckons also with the participation of countries around the Baltic Sea which are not EU members. Here Latvia

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sees also the possibility of positive input from the European Commission. As for EU enlargement, Latvia believes the Western Balkan countries should have a perspective of EU integration; at the same time, an individual approach to each country is essential. In this context, the European Commission should specify its planned activities in the Western Balkans. Membership negotiations must continue with Croatia and Turkey in accordance with the existing EU enlargement policy; the pace should depend on each country’s course of reform and progress in the fulfilment of commitments. The EU must continue to help strengthen the statebuilding processes in Kosovo and facilitate Kosovo’s participation in the EU’s and other international initiatives in the Western Balkans. After Russia’s military invasion of Georgia, 538 Latvia’s parliament condemned that act. Both President Valdis Zatlers and Minister of Foreign Affairs Māris Riekstiņš have been urging the EU and other international organisations to reassess their relations with Russia because the old approach is no longer appropriate; they believe that by its behaviour, Russia has destroyed the trust that other countries had placed in it. Furthermore, the EU and NATO should offer a membership perspective for both Georgia and Ukraine. Ways of rapprochement for other countries bordering the Russian Federation should also 539 be facilitated by both organisations. These views neither contradict nor obviate the specific suggestions on EU relations with Russia that Latvia made in connection with France’s assumption of the EU-presidency. Latvia wants the negotiation of the new EURussia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement to be completely transparent and a continuation of a balanced development of the four common spaces with the Russian Federation. The EU-Russia consultations about human rights must be constructive and balanced. On border-related issues, Latvia wants soon a demarcation of its border with Russia, improved infrastructure and clearer legal procedures for more efficient bordercrossing. A functioning readmission treaty and simpler procedures for obtaining visas are essential before the EU can consider visa-free travel with the RF. Concerning the resolution of energy issues, the EU and Russia should have a legal base spelled out in the EU-RF umbrella
538 539

agreement that fully reflects the Energy Charter, St. Petersburg Summit accords, G-8 Summit declaration and principles of market economy. While favouring Russia’s speedy accession into the WTO and the start of talks leading to an EU-Russia free trade agreement, Latvia wants Russia to observe consistently WTO trade principles; specifically, Latvia wants Russia to end the discriminatory railway tariffs and resolve the issue of taxing export timber. Concerning transatlantic relations, Latvia lists a wide spectrum of concerns shared by the EU and the USA. These range from coordination of views on the relations with Russia and other countries to the development of a transatlantic economic council and a constructive dialogue on energy and climate change. In connection with the ESDP, Latvia stresses the need to continue developing the EU-NATO strategic partnership so as to deal effectively in the management of crises, especially in Afghanistan. Looking at the European Security Strategy, Latvia would like the strategy to be endowed with an action plan and effective instruments for its implementation. Latvia is keen on furthering more effective and better coordinated development co-operation with developing countries and, therefore, urges the EU to seek more practical solutions to the reduction of poverty throughout the world. Riga notes with satisfaction the French Presidency’s priority of seeking to strengthen democratic practices in local governments of developing countries; this is also one of Latvia’s priorities in the realm of development co-operation. EEAS: just a draft opinion Concerning the possible changes in the EU’s management of its external affairs that would result after the Lisbon Treaty is adopted, there has not been any public debate on the relevant issues in Latvia. Latvian officials, however, have consistently voiced their support for reforms and the establishment of the EEAS. A tentative position has been drafted by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the full text is not yet available to the general public. Some ideas in that document have, however, become known to specialists and these are summarised below: • The current institutional balance must be preserved when considering the new leading EU offices stipulated in

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• •

•

•

•

•

the Lisbon Treaty and the competences that go with each office. The community method of decisionmaking must also be preserved. Close co-operation is essential between the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Council, and the leader representing the country holding the EU presidency; that leader should be accorded a significant role in the European Council and at the EU summits with third countries. In selecting candidates for top EU offices and for the EEAS, the European Union’s diversity must be borne in mind and the choices should be made equitably and represent both the older and the more recent members states, the larger and the smaller ones, as well as the various geographical regions and political parties. The EEAS should be established via the consolidation of the administrative, technical and financial resources of both the Commission and the Secretariat General of the Council of the European Union. The EEAS should have wide range of competences, even wider than those indicated in the Lisbon Treaty; at the same time, the competences should be clearly delineated between the EEAS, the Council’s Secretariat General, and the European Commission to avoid duplication. A budget should be stipulated for the EEAS already for 2009 to provide salaries for the experts fielded by each memberstates; the experts should initially have the status of temporary agents.

share its fears with Western countries about Lithuania’s energy security after the closure of the “Ignalina nuclear power plant”. According to him, the French Presidency is the most favourable period in which to talk about all of the energy troubles that will follow the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant and to consider the possibilities of how to cope with the negative consequences. There is no other more favourable period for discussing energy policies than the French Presidency. 540 During the meeting with the French Minister for Energy Jean-Louis Borloo, Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas expressed his hopes that Lithuania, together with the EU, will find solutions on how to improve the energy security of Lithuania and the whole Baltic region during the French Presidency. 541 Attention to the Eastern neighbours of the EU Žygimantas Pavilionis said that another important priority for Lithuania during the French Presidency is the Eastern neighbourhood of the EU. 542 Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus declared his hope that the French Presidency will have a positive impact on an effective European Žygimantas Neighbourhood Policy. 543 Pavilionis stated, “I guess France was the first EU member state to begin to talk about the strategic importance of the Ukraine, and we really hope that during the Ukrainian-EU Summit we will be able to provide the Ukraine a perspective of membership in the EU or at least to make real steps towards this direction.” That would be the most important decision regarding the East during the French
News agency Baltic news service: bns: Svarbiausias Prancūzijos pirmininkavimo ES prioritetas Lietuvai – energetinis saugumas, teigia diplomatas (Bns: the most important priority to Lithuania of the French presidency is rd energy security, claims the diplomat), July 3 , 2008. 541 Lithuanian government: J. L. Borloo: Prancūzija pirmininkavimo ES metu nori padėti Lietuvai (J. L. Borloo: France wants to help Lithuania during its presidency), June th 27 , 2008, press release of Lithuanian government, available under: http://www.lrvk.lt/main.php?id=aktualijos_su_video/p.php& th n=6355 (last access: August 28 , 2008). 542 News agency Baltic news service: bns: Svarbiausias Prancūzijos pirmininkavimo ES prioritetas Lietuvai – energetinis saugumas, teigia diplomatas (Bns: the most important priority to Lithuania of the French presidency is rd energy security, claims the diplomat), July 3 , 2008. 543 Lithuanian President: Prezidentas pabrėžė Prancūzijos svarbą Baltijos ir Rytų Europos šalims (The President has emphasized the importance of France for the Baltic and East European countries), a press release of the th Lithuanian President institution, September 6 , 2007, available under: http://www.president.lt/lt/news.full/8216 th (last access: August 28 , 2008).
540

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Lithuania ∗
(Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University)

French presidency – the best time to talk about Lithuanian energy security As the undersecretary of the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Žygimantas Pavilionis said that the French EU-Presidency would provide Lithuania with the best possibility to
∗

Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University.

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Presidency. Žygimantas Pavilionis also commented that during the French Presidency, Lithuania would actively follow the EU-Russian negotiations surrounding the strategic partnership process. Lithuania will also raise the issues of facilitating a visa regime for the inhabitants of Georgia, Belarus and the Kaliningrad region and a more active EU involvement in solving the conflicts in the Georgian separatist regions.” 544 Concern about the fate of the Lisbon Treaty The third priority of the French Presidency important to Lithuania would be maintaining the dialogue with the member states which have not yet ratified the Lisbon Treaty and try to find solutions, which would enable the treaty to come into force in 2009. Lithuania must avoid silent discussions which have already began about the possibility of rejecting the Lisbon Treaty and to implement a two or three speed Europe. This alternative would be not 545 useful and even dangerous to Lithuania. The establishment of a European External Action Service is not a high salience issue in Lithuania The establishment of the European External Action Service is not an openly debated issue in the Lithuanian media. Nevertheless, as one of the most experienced Lithuanian diplomats and the current member of the European Parliament from Lithuania, Justas Vincas Paleckis, claims – Lithuania as well as other small and middle-sized EU member states would benefit from the establishment of such 546 The undersecretary of the an institution. Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Žygimantas Pavilionis, also emphasises the importance of this initiative by saying that the establishment of such a service is a very important issue for Lithuania as far as Lithuania does not have a wide network of diplomatic representatives in the world. 547
News agency Baltic news service: bns: Svarbiausias Prancūzijos pirmininkavimo ES prioritetas Lietuvai – energetinis saugumas, teigia diplomatas (Bns: the most important priority to Lithuania of the French presidency is rd energy security, claims the diplomat), July 3 , 2008. 545 Ibid. 546 Justas Paleckis: Kam skambins valstybės sekretorius iš Vašingtono? (To whom the state secretary from Washington is going to call?), Internet news site th Bernardinai, February 4 , 2008, available under: http://www.bernardinai.lt/index.php?url=articles/73553 (last th access: August 28 , 2008). 547 Žygimantas Pavilionis: The speech of undersecretary of the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry Žygimantas Pavilionis at the conference “Lisbon treaty: what is next?”,
544

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Luxembourg ∗
(Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman)

French priorities tackle some of the ‘real problems’ of European people In his State of the Nation speech, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker announced a certain number of measures implementing at least some of the priorities of the French Presidency. Furthermore, the public debate dealing with these subjects continues, especially when they are put into a specific national context. Energy and climate If Kyoto goals are not reachable with the authorisation of even more bio ethanol and bio diesel, increased efforts must be made in other domains of climate protection policy. Energy efficient house construction will be subsidized as well as renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic devices or central heating systems working with wood pellets. The government wants to reduce the famous “filling station tourism” in the long run. The government can’t raise the taxes on gasoline and diesel in order to fight inflation. Low CO2 emission vehicles continue to be subsidized and extended on company fleet vehicles which make about fifth of the national car population. 548 Marcel Oberweis, MP of the CSV 549 and speaker on ecological questions, thinks that the EU is in the starting blocks to finding ways for a new policy to prevent climate change and efficient energy supply. 550 Claude Turmes green MEP is convinced that economically efficient energy policy can improve economic growth. The EU must use and develop its know-how in efficient energy management. The EU must also launch a new offensive in developing renewable energies. Turmes did not ignore any argument, from possible terrorist attacks on nuclear power plants to the
January 17 , 2008, available under: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?1898845102 (last access: th August 28 , 2008). ∗ Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman. 548 Jean-Claude Juncker: Discours sur l’état de la Nation, 22.5.2008 http://www.gouvernement.lu/gouvernement/etatnation/index.html last access 12.9.2008; Tageblatt: Parlament debattiert Rede über die Lage der Nation, 28.5.2008. 549 Chrëschtlech Sozial Vollékspartei. 550 Luxemburger Wort: Europas Achillesferse: Energieversorgung, 8.7.2008.
th

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unsolved nuclear waste problem, to exclude ad aeternum any use of nuclear technology to reduce CO2 emissions. 551 Immigration EU immigration policy mainly relates to immigration from non-EU countries. Luxembourg is in a very particular situation in the sense that more than 40 percent of the resident population of the grand duchy are non-nationals. The overwhelming majority of these immigrants are EU citizens. The Portuguese community is the largest followed by Italian, French, Belgian and German communities. North African or Turkish immigration as in neighbouring France, Belgium, Netherlands or Germany is not really relevant in numbers. The only non-European community present in significant numbers in Luxembourg are the citizens from the former Portuguese African colony of Capo Verde. Their desire to integrate is stronger than that of the Portuguese community. However, since the Yugoslav wars in the mid nineties, an increasing number of Muslim refugees came to Luxembourg and made Islam the biggest religious community next to the dominant catholic community. The Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs and immigration has had some trouble with illegal immigrants from West Africa. Claiming political exile and protection from African dictators’ retaliation, some immigrants unfortunately proved to be illegal drug dealers. Due to new international cooperation and bilateral agreements, criminals could be expelled, whereas true exile seekers are protected. As the landlocked little Luxembourg has no external border with a non EU country except for its airport, it fully profits from the Dublin agreement stipulating that exile demands must be presented in the country that the immigrant first sets foot in. Up until now, illegal immigrants not recognized as legal exile seekers have to wait for the departure to their homeland in a normal prison cell. This situation is no longer tolerable! Human rights organisations regularly condemn the poor performance of one of the richest countries in 552 At last a new facility is planned the world! and should open very soon. The Luxembourg
Luxemburger Wort: Drei Fragen an Claude Turmes, 5.6.2008. 552 Tageblatt: ASTI verfolgte Rückführungsdebatte. “Keine Türen in der Festung“, 18.6.2008.
551

Foreign and Immigration Minister as well as the Minister of Justice repeatedly stress that they are eager to develop a common EU immigration policy. 553 The European Parliament debate on the ‘Return Directive’ brought some disagreements among the six Luxembourg representatives in the European Parliament on the subject of illegal immigration. Lydie Polfer, the former liberal Foreign Minister voted in favour, Astrid Lulling and Jean Spautz followed their EPP 554 party line but Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, also a member of the EPP, the former ChristianDemocratic group, refused to follow the official line. 555 She justified her negative vote by declaring that she is “worried about xenophobic tendencies gaining ground within the European Union […]. A six month imprisonment is too long.” 556 Like Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, Robert Goebbels, a Socialist, and Claude Turmes a Green voted against the proposed directive. These three are in the same boat with the editorialist Danièle Fonck denouncing Sarkozy’s position on immigration subjects. 557 Defence Being too small and too weak to develop an independent defence policy Luxembourg is and was a very strong supporter of a common EU-defence policy in coordination with its NATO membership. Luxembourg has recently increased its support to the Franco-German Eurocorps by joining a multinational water cleaning unit. Luxembourg participates in most EU security operations within the framework of 558 “Luxemburger Wort” its limited capacities. political analyst puts the responsibility on the shoulders of Brown and Sarkozy to strengthen and enhance EU defence policy. 559

Déclaration de Jean Schmit ministre délégué des Affaires étrangères et de l’immigration, available under: www.gouvernement.lu (last access: 27.8.2009). 554 European People’s Party. 555 Luxemburger Wort: Europaparlament stimmt über die Rückführungsrichtlinie ab, 18.6.2008. 556 Luxemburger Wort: Hennicot-Schoepges gegen Rückführungsrichtlinie, 20.6.2008. 557 Le Jeudi: Où va-t-on?, 3.7.2008. 558 Déclaration du Ministre de la défense Jean-Louis Schiltz, available under: www.gouvernement.lu (last access: 27.8.2009); Luxemburger Wort: Tschad-Mission: EU-Verteidigungsminister stimmen sich ab, 22.2.2008. 559 Luxemburger Wort: Jakub Ambramowicz. Die Verteidigung, 27.3.2008.

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Economic growth and employment Luxembourg’s economy is in fine shape with a robust growth over the past three years, thanks to the expansion of the financial sector. The current international financial crisis however, which is taking its toll, and growth likely to weaken, will have a negative effect on tax receipts. The financial sector remains sound, reflecting the high quality of supervision, but the government should aim to improve its attractiveness in the eyes of the OECD experts for high-skilled talent. The short-term fiscal position is sound, but the fiscal policy needs to 560 evolve towards a medium-term framework. International competition will continue to exert pressure on the financial sector. However Jeannot Krecké, Luxembourg Minister of Economy, was dismissive of the OECD’s negative outlook. He does not think that the pessimism in this report is appropriate. He is confident that the financial sector will enjoy a healthy future. 561 Mediterranean Union Luxembourg, like Germany and other ‘northern’ EU member states was not so keen on French President Sarkozy’s idea of a Mediterranean Union in the initial stage. 562 Luxembourg, like Chancellor Merkel, did not want to split the EU in two groups: those who are concerned with the Mediterranean Union, and the others. They thought that the French President only wanted to create a Frenchdominated counterbalance to the apparently German-dominated East. In the meantime Jean-Claude Juncker sees in the Union for the Mediterranean “a logical amplification of the Ady Richard, Barcelona Process” 563. editorialist and foreign policy analyst of the CSV, is not shy to pay tribute to President Sarkozy’s performance. “Sarkozy has entered the hall of fame. He has made things move” 564. His style may be open to discussion, but no one can deny that he managed, with an astonishing efficiency, to get all heads of
OECD Economic survey of Luxembourg 2008. Summary, in: OECD Policy Brief June 2008, available under. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/18/52/40889129.pdf (last access: 27.8.2008). 561 Déclarations de Monsieur Jeannot Krecké Ministre de l’économie et du Commerce extérieur, available under: www.gouvernement.lu (last access: 27.8.2008). 562 Hartmut Hausmann: mehr als nur alter Wein in neuen Schläuchen?, Journal, 15.3.2008. 563 Luxemburger Wort: Sarkozy le Méditerranéen, 14.7.2008. 564 Luxemburger Wort: Union pour la démocratie, 14.7.2008.
560

government of the EU and the Mediterranean states, except Libya’s Kaddafi, sitting around one table, including Israel and Syria. 565 “Do not put all the blame on Assad, the Syrian leader,” said Danièle Fonck of the socialist “Tageblatt” 566. “He certainly is a dictator, but more than one was invited in Paris. Syria has started indirect peace talks with Israel, so let us wait and see. For Israel’s Olmert, peace has never been so close […]. Political observers of all denominations can’t deny that the summit in Paris was a triumph for French President Nicolas Sarkozy.” 567 This meeting could be an opportunity to restart the Barcelona Process with a greater chance of success. Therefore the European Union has to improve its foreign policy instruments: which presupposes a ratification and implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. 568 Juncker points out that it is a must for Europe to come to terms with its Southern neighbours and develop a new Mediterranean policy. The economic, social and demographic facts are simply undeniable. Europe’s population is rapidly decreasing and its attractiveness is still growing among potential illegal immigrants. More critical observers note that the problems still remain the same after the end of this ‘grand rendezvous’. Who is going to pay for the cleaning of the Mediterranean? How can a new immigration policy be agreed on? How can the floods of illegal immigrants from the south be controlled? In a recent Eurobarometer survey, Luxembourg’s citizens proved to be very strongly opposed to a possible Turkish EU 569 President Sarkozy made very membership. strong declarations on this matter in the election campaign in the same direction. Will he be able to find a way out of this position? Anglo-Saxon commentators ask for free trade between the EU and the rest of the world and an end of the French policy withholding imports, including farm produce from the South. 570 EU should use its patronage to boost spending on infrastructure in the region. When
Guy Kemp: Mittelmeer Chance für Europa, Tageblatt,16.7.2008. 566 Tageblatt: Bachir el Assad et Cie, 14.7.2008. 567 Hartmut Hausmann Genial gelaufen, Journal, 16.7.2008. 568 Guy Kemp: Mittelmeerchance für EU, Tageblatt, 16.7.2008. 569 Standard Eurobarometer 69, National Report Luxembourg, Spring 2008, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_ lu_nat.pdf (last access: 27.8.2008). 570 The Economist: Charlemagne. Whistling in the dark, 10.5.2008.
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asked about his contribution to the EUMediterranean Summit in Paris, Prime Minister Juncker declared on “Luxembourg radio” that an increase of the other EU members states’ net aid to developing countries to the Luxembourg level (1 percent of the gross domestic product), could facilitate southern countries’ capacities to improve education, infrastructure and economic framework. 571 Common Agricultural Policy “Europe wasn’t able feed its citizens until the sixties when CAP really got started”; Juncker says that he was criticized and ridiculed by the British in 2005 when he asked for a guarantee of secure food supply in Europe. Today prices of nourishments are rising again. Was it a good answer to reduce European agricultural production because the CAP became too expensive? “We must reduce the living cost of the poorest. Europe must raise its contributions to developing countries to 0.7 percent of gross 572 national product” . The European Commission’s and the French Presidency’s proposals to simplify and modernise the CAP as they were presented to the EU Agriculture Ministers Council encountered mixed reactions. Luxembourg’s Agriculture Minister Fernand Boden, fundamentally opposes any substantial modification of the modulation criteria (reduction of direct payments) before 2013. He argues that the political compromise of 2003 allows him to act in this way. Furthermore, Boden criticises the cut of financial aid for agriculture, even if that money was used in programmes such as climate change or environmental protection. Luxembourg’s plan to develop the rural space – already approved by the European Commission last year – contains these kind of measures. The abolition of market regulation mechanisms proposed by the commission are not in the interest of a secure agriculture policy according to Boden. The abolition of the milk quota, scheduled for 2014, must be handled very carefully, in order not to hurt milk producers “who must try to survive a foreseeable economic and social 573 shock” (Boden).

The provisions for the new post of High Representative The “Luxemburger Wort” supports the idea expressed in the Lisbon Treaty to give EU the opportunity to develop a credible foreign policy. The creation of the post of a so called High Representative for Foreign Affairs and security Policy is a step in the right direction. By renaming “High Representative” the post of “Foreign Minister” proves only how small minded Europeans are. The USA ignores 574 these kinds of odd things. Several of his colleagues seem to have pushed Jean-Claude Juncker to be a candidate for the post of the President the European Council. As the Lisbon Treaty is not likely to be ratified before January 1st 2009, the post cannot be attributed before a successful Irish referendum and a final ratification of the treaty. Luxembourg national and European elections take place on the same date in June. Juncker declared several times that he will not be the President of the next European Commission. 575

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Malta ∗
(Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta)

Most important topics illegal immigration and the Mediterranean region Malta believes that the EU must focus its attention on addressing the major challenge of energy security. Global warming, the global climate and global environment protection have become leading goals in the international community. In early 2007, Malta launched the Euro-Mediterranean Initiative for Technology and Innovation (EuroMedITI) that is already opening up partnerships between research, business and governmental sectors supporting innovation policies. Water and environment technologies, sustainable energy technologies, marine technologies, and information and communication technologies are the main areas of cooperation being focused upon. EuroMedITI aims to develop and empower an outstanding technology and innovation

RTL Letzebuerg:Interview with Jean-Claude Juncker, 12.7.2008. 572 Luxemburger Wort: Juncker: Lösung im Oktober, 19.6.2008. 573 Tageblatt: Boden bekräfitigt Luxemburger Vorbehalte, 16.7.2008.

571

Luxemburger Wort: Gerd Werle. Eine glaubhafte EUAussenpolitik, 9.6.2008. 575 Tageblatt: Entretien exclusif avec le premier ministre sur l’avenir de l’UE et du Luxembourg, 27.6.2008. ∗ Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta.

574

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platform in the Mediterranean markets for business driven services in training, applied research and development, testing and prototyping, incubation and dissemination in the region. This will appeal directly to industries searching for a location to execute applied research and development under favourable conditions, and a hub to access the emerging Mediterranean market of more than 400 million people. Malta’s Main Migration Security Concern: Illegal

Located in the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta finds itself in the precarious position of largely being a country of transit in the everincreasing flow of human beings moving from the southern shores of the Mediterranean to Europe. Illegal migrants are arriving on the shores of Malta on practically a daily basis, placing an incredible strain on the security resources at our disposal. Realising that such a dramatic increase in illegal immigration is quickly becoming a major source of instability in the international community, Malta is implementing a comprehensive foreign policy strategy to raise awareness of this humanitarian catastrophe. Unless the international community takes the necessary action to deal more effectively with this new form of human slavery that dominates contemporary Euro-Mediterranean relations, millions of lives risk being uprooted by this type of flourishing organised crime. The time has come to focus more EuroMediterranean political energy on delivering practical cooperation in areas where such measures are urgently required. This includes cooperative measures in the field of management of migration control, environment control and also economic development. Such forms of cooperation are essential if the EuroMediterranean Partnership is to be perceived as relevant to the peoples of the EuroMediterranean area. Such modalities of cooperation would of course adopt all of the existing mechanisms of partnership (association agreements, action plans, trade provisions and financial cooperation) that already exist through the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and European Neighbourhood Policy. The main goal of this initiative would be to create a more positive atmosphere between Europe and the Arab world in all sectors, including politics, education, culture and business. The success of this initiative will lie in the informality of regular interaction between the two shores of the Mediterranean. When it comes to immediate practical forms of cooperation Arab states should be encouraged to play a direct role in the management of illegal migration across the Mediterranean. One modality of cooperation that could be considered is that of cooperating more closely with FRONTEX or the Council of Interior Ministers against appropriate financial support

Malta also believes that the EU needs to adopt a more ambitious immigration policy to cope with the major influx of illegal migrants seeking to enter the EU, especially through the Mediterranean. As sources of insecurity across the EuroMediterranean area, and indeed, the international community continue to increase, Malta believes that it seems more logical for all Euro-Mediterranean countries to dedicate their diplomatic resources to defining a set of practical confidence building measures that would create the necessary atmosphere within which a more elaborate mechanism, such as a security charter, can be fleshed out. Malta is prepared to play an important role in such a strategy by offering its good neighbour offices to the other Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) members. When it comes to the direct tangible endeavours that the EMP should seek to realise in the short-term, the 39 partner and observer states such as Libya, should introduce a basic type of confidence building measure network that will enable them to manage and contain the large number of security challenges that risk upsetting stability across the Euro-Mediterranean area. The long list of ‘soft’ security issues that could derail peaceful relations across the Mediterranean includes illegal migration, maritime safety, environmental pollution, and narcotics trafficking. In the past few years a dramatic increase in illegal immigration activity across the Mediterranean has taken place. All indicators point towards a future of even more migratory flows from south to north in the decade ahead. Such an increase in human trafficking is already having a major negative impact on the countries of origin, transit and destination of such activity.

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from the EU in a coastguard framework.

Euro-Mediterranean

Preparatory discussions ahead of the ministerial summit that took place during the Portuguese Presidency in November 2007 that focused on legal and illegal migration and migration and development concentrated on identifying practical measures that can be introduced in the short-term to start addressing this phenomenon in a more concerted manner. Similar modalities of cooperation can be launched when it comes to surveillance of pollution, monitoring fishing activities and carrying out search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean. Illegal immigration will be the most pressing contemporary challenge from the Mediterranean area. Without effective action by the EU and support from the Mediterranean countries the numbers of illegal migrants are bound to swell progressively. From presently less than 100,000 they might easily reach one million or more annually before 2025. There is no lack of young volunteers eager to find a better life in the European ‘paradise’. Malta welcomes the “Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean” (BP: UfM) perspective as it is in both the EU and the Mediterranean states’ interests for the BP: UfM to succeed given the indivisibility of security between Europe and the Mediterranean. Across the Mediterranean geopolitical and geo-economic indicators are not as positive as one would like. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is lacking, intra-Mediterranean trade remains limited, north-south economic disparity is resulting in a permanent poverty curtain across the Mediterranean, the demographic timebomb continues to escalate, unemployment continues to multiply, illegal migration has reached alarming levels, illiteracy remains at very high levels, and an escalation of ongoing conflicts remains a serious concern. There is a general sense of high expectation of the French EU-Presidency in Malta mainly due to the fact that President Nicolas Sarkozy has attached a great deal of importance to improving relations in the Mediterranean through the Mediterranean Union initiative. Visits to Malta by French Ambassador for the Union for the Mediterranean Alain Leroy in January 2008, French Minister for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet in March 2008 and French Prime Minister François Fillon in May 2008 have raised the profile of the French

Presidency agenda in the local media and in policy circles as numerous French priorities have been focused upon including the whole issue of immigration, the energy/climate debate, the future of the Common Agricultural Policy and especially the Mediterranean Union. Malta has been consistently advocating the necessity to upgrade the role of the EU when it comes to illegal immigration. It has continuously requested that the EU border control agency FRONTEX set up a permanent policing mechanism in the central Mediterranean, an initiative that has commenced in spring 2008 with mixed results. Illegal migrants continue to arrive in Malta on a weekly basis, much to the concern and frustration of various sectors of society in Malta. The other main issue that has received wide attention in the media and governmental and non-governmental policy-making circles is the Union for the Mediterranean proposal that the th French launched on July 13 2008 in Paris. The provisions regarding external relations While Malta has not taken a stance on this issue, there is a general consensus that a broad approach should be adopted when it comes to implementing an external relations agenda – this will continue to guarantee that all member states’ rights will continue to be safeguarded, including the status of neutrality of Malta.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Netherlands ∗
(Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’)

Support for French Presidency agenda Although a formal government position has not been issued, it seems that the priorities of the French Presidency have been generally well perceived in the Netherlands. This applies in particular to the issues of climate and energy and immigration. Regarding climate and energy, it is of utmost importance in the view of the Dutch government, that during the French Presidency, the Council of Ministers will reach agreement on the climate and energy package as proposed by the European Commission. Without agreement in the Council, it will be
∗

Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’.

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impossible for the European Parliament to finalise the legislative process before the elections for the European Parliament in the spring of next year. As to the issue of immigration, the Netherlands has always been a supporter of a common European approach towards issues of legal and illegal immigration, as a follow-up of the The Hague Programme that was agreed upon among the member states during the Dutch Presidency of 2004. Concerns about Common Agricultural Policy reform and the Mediterranean Union Matters of concern refer specifically to the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the proposal for a Mediterranean Union. As to the CAP, there is concern that a discussion now about the CAP might interfere with the ongoing health check and budget review. In response to the initial proposals of President Sarkozy regarding the Mediterranean Union, it seems that some concerns focused on the restrictive character of this initiative (to restrict membership to countries of the Mediterranean) and about the funding of the initiative. Question marks were also raised regarding the link between this initiative and already existing programmes like the Barcelona Process and the European Neighbourhood Policy. In responding to the proposal, the primary aim of the Netherlands has been to suggest the opening up of the initiative to all EU member states and to integrate it into the existing policies and programmes. Since the European Council meeting in March, which agreed along these lines, concern in the Netherlands about this initiative has evaporated. Last but not least, it is clear that the French Presidency is faced with the difficult task to broker a solution for the Irish ‘No’ vote against the Lisbon Treaty. Dutch national media have reported of the impact on the ambitions of in particular French President Sarkozy, which have been downsized as a result of the need to focus on the Irish ‘No’ and its 576 However, there are some consequences. concerns in the Netherlands about the way this will be handled by the French Presidency. In the Dutch view, solving this issue requires patience and an even-handed approach, while the French Presidency may tend to opt for a
See De Volkskrant: Sarkozy stelt na Iers nee ambities bij, 30 June 2008.
576

more assertive attitude, which might turn out to be counterproductive.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Poland ∗
(Foundation for European Studies - European Institute)

Most French priorities meet Polish interests The French Presidency marked by the June visit of President Sarkozy in Poland raised quite high expectations among politicians of various affiliations. Although there are some divergent points in the main issues defined by French government, which find Polish support. As it concerns French plans for more integrated European defence, Poland formulates its political priorities in a quite similar way. Radosław Sikorski, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs believes the European Union should and will gradually develop its hard power capacities. In his recent Address at the lower chamber of the Polish parliament 577 (“Sejm”) he said: “We are convinced that the European Union should take an active part in guaranteeing security as well as restoring, by military means as well, peace and stability regionally and beyond Europe. Such engagement by the union should complement, rather than duplicate, NATO efforts. We do not want to choose, we want to have two complementary insurance policies. In the context of the European Security and Defence Policy we will concentrate on such issues as crisis reaction, humanitarian assistance, training and the European Defence Agency. We will support the development of the European defence groups. We will take active part in the discussion about revising the 578 European Security Strategy” . As it concerns the EU presence in the international arena Poland offers its support to the reform of the UN and for a joint, EU permanent delegate to the UN Security Council. Within this security context the special focus is put on the link between energy and security issues. According to the government 579 energy is not only an economic position,
Foundation for European Studies - European Institute. 577 Transcript of the Sejm debate, 07.05.2008. 578 Ibid. 579 TV interview of PM Donald Tusk, TV1 – National Main Channel, 07.05.2008.
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issue. When it becomes an instrument of international politics and pressure it becomes a matter of national security. “We consider the imperative of solidarity in energy security policy, ensuing from Lisbon Treaty provisions, to be a test of Union values” 580. Three issues are declared to be of the greatest importance: • concrete European regulations, resulting from the spirit of energy solidarity should be translated into the language of practical standards; that no energy projects will be financed by the European Union if they are found by any member state to conflict with its needs and energy security and greater competition should be supported – i.e. through the third energy packet, providing for separation of production and transportation; the need for diversification of sources and routes for the delivery of energy resources and creation of a network of connections and storage facilities for the transportation of energy; staunch EU counteraction to any pressure or blackmail from non-EU energy providers (contracts with providers should contain solutions for eliminating such practices).

support coming from both of the political and popular milieus. Within this concept Poland supports the French position on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) continuity and formulas for maintaining the Union budget at a level exceeding 1 percent of GDP. In the second half of 2008, during the French presidency, projects of regulation submitted by the European Commission on potential changes in functioning of the CAP have to be confirmed. France wants to use its presidential term in the EU to turn the attention of other member states to significance of CAP in the context of assuring the availability of agricultural products and supplies, the quality of agricultural production and preventing 582 climate changes. The visit of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy in Warsaw was an occasion to conclude the strategic partnership agreement between Paris and Warsaw. In the frame of agreed partnership ‘common actions towards CAP defence are essential” 583, and in the common interest of France and Poland. President Sarkozy stressed the need to convince European citizens, that selfsufficiency in the food sector is one of the key elements of Europe’s strength. 584 At the same time – to the great satisfaction of the Polish politicians – he underlined the need to introduce several community preferences protecting European agricultural market. 585 In regard to CAP reforms both, France and Poland will aim to keep high expenditures on agricultural sector. 586 The above-mentioned document also confirmed the French support for the Polish (and Swedish) Eastern policy concept formulated in the Eastern Partnership Plan. This initiative was promised by Prime Minister Donald Tusk at the meeting in March, when EU leaders endorsed the idea of Sarkozy’s Mediterranean Union. According to Mikołaj Dowgielewicz, Secretary of the Committee for European Integration: “the EU needs to develop a framework with these countries because of their economic potential and

•

•

As it pertains to the EU priority to struggle with climatic changes through the cut of greenhouse emissions by 20 percent by 2020, and the French support to promotion of this objective under six months of its presidency. It is worth notice that Poland is going through substantial difficulties in fulfilment of these ambitious plans. The CO2 emission reduction plans were one of the most discussed issues in Poland during last months. The key problem lies in the increasing discrepancy between the continuing rapid economic growth bringing extended energy demand and legal obligations to cut down CO2 emission. Seen that coal remains the basic source of Polish energy production, the decrease of emission quotas can lead to the slow down of the economic growth and induce rapid inflation. Larger description of this complex issue of vital importance for Poland can be found in last (the seventh) point of Poland’s country report. The French Presidency’s central theme of a more ‘protective Europe’ 581 finds firm Polish
Ibid. EurActive: Interview: France to push ‘protective Europe’ agenda at EU helm, 06.11.2007, available under: http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/interview-france581 580

push-protective-europe-agenda-eu-helm/article-168064 (last access: 04.09.2008). 582 Biuletyn nr 30 (498), 8 lipca 2008, Polish Institute for Foreign Affairs. 583 Dziennik, 29.05.2008. 584 Gazeta Wyborcza, 20.05.2008. 585 Rzeczpospolita, 29.05.2008. 586 Gazeta Wyborcza, 28.05.2008; Rzeczpospolita, 28.05.2008.

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because there is a serious strategic interest for the union in terms of energy projects” 587.

initially. 590 What the plus will actually be is still unclear. In the end, however, the prevailing view in Portugal seems to be to give the Union for the Mediterranean a chance to prove its worth. The rationale for this is paradigmatically expressed by the former European Commissioner and semi-retired elder statesman, António Vitorino: “everything that pulls the EU towards the South is good for Southern Europe. Portugal did it during its EUPresidency with the EU-Africa Summit. France has now done that with the Union for the 591 Moreover, an enhanced Mediterranean.” participation in joint institutions by the Southern Mediterranean partners may indeed be a positive result of all this. Even if no fundamental positive changes in Euro-Med relations can be anticipated by the Portuguese political or diplomatic elite. The Portuguese Prime Minister set the tone by stating in Paris, at the end of the summit where the initiative was formally approved, that the “Union for the Mediterranean is good news” because it can provide “additional ambition and political impetus” for cooperation with a critical area of 592 the world for Europe. As for Defence, the official government position is that “European defence is the new Euro”. 593 This makes it imperative that Portugal is also “on the frontline of European integration” at the level of defence as the Minister of Defence made clear in a recent statement, while underlining that missions abroad contribute “for the modernization and internationalisation of the armed forces, and for the credibility of the Portuguese state and the prestige of the country”. 594 Therefore the Portuguese convergence with the French Presidency agenda is again clear; especially since a permanent Portuguese concern in this respect has been addressed by Sarkozy’s guarantee that France will not seek to upgrade European Defence as a threat to NATO. Still the question remains, and is arguably more acute now: if there comes a time to choose between a real operational capability for the
Teresa de Sousa: Merkel promete a Sarkozy todo o apoio alemão à presidência francesa da UE, Público, 10.06.2008. 591 António Vitorino, Interview on RTP (Public TV), 14.07.08. 592 Diário de Notícias: União para o Mediterrâneo é ‘boa notícia’, 15.03.08. 593 Público: Defesa europeia será um desafio igual ao euro, 18.04.2008. 594 Cited in Diário de Notícias: “Afeganistão 'trocado' por frota da NATO”, 07.07.2008.
590

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Portugal ∗
(Institute for Strategic and International Studies)

“France can count on Portuguese support. We share its priorities.” The priorities of the French Presidency were generally welcomed in Portugal. They are seen as close to major Portuguese concerns, namely energy and climate, immigration, defence and the Mediterranean. The fact that French diplomacy showed some concern with consulting Portuguese decision-makers made this support even more likely and publicly evident. The Portuguese Prime Minister stated during a visit by the French Prime Minister: “France can count on Portuguese support. We 588 Moreover, Prime share its priorities.” Minister Sócrates and President Sarkozy are perceived as having a good personal connection, despite being placed, respectively, in the ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the political spectrum, because both share a concern with difficult structural reforms and, we might add, with making their countries punch above their weight internationally. 589 The Mediterranean is of course, as the official program of the Portuguese EU-Presidency again made clear, always a priority for Portugal, and a consensual one among decision-makers, all main political parties, and analysts. This does not mean, naturally, an absolute consensus on what to do and how. And there is some scepticism among analysts regarding the actual impact of the new French initiative of the Mediterranean Union. There is also a realisation that Sarkozy had to wield to pressures from Germany and make the renamed Union for the Mediterranean some kind of «Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Plus» and not the more exclusive Med Club under stronger French leadership he had in mind

Interview to POLITYKA, 30.06.2008, available under: http://www.polityka.pl (last access: 04.09.2008). ∗ Institute for Strategic and International Studies. 588 Le Point: Paris et Lisbonne à l'unisson sur l'agenda européen, 22.02.2008. 589 After their first meeting Sarkozy is reported to have said: “I am lucky the French Socialists are not like him” cf. Dominique Audibert: José Sócrates, Le Tony Blair Portugais, Le Point, 19.04.2007.

587

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EU and its traditional link with NATO, will Portugal make a clear choice? Energy, above all, and climate change as a result, were also among the priorities during the Portuguese EU-Presidency. This is also a major priority internally, in terms of investment in renewable sources of energy and on energy efficiency. The impact of the recent truckers strike only made the urgency of major structural shifts more evident. 595 Therefore any further steps in this direction by the EU as a result of the French Presidency, and especially new funds, will be most welcomed in Portugal. Again this is a widely consensual policy, seen as crucial for Portugal as the most energy dependent country in the EU. 596 Employment and innovation are also major Portuguese concerns, to a much higher degree than agriculture. Here, however, the dominant perception is that there are some differences at the level of approaches and objectives with the French Presidency. This is not clear at the level of official public discourse, where the emphasis is on common concerns. But at least some commentators express more or less explicit reservations regarding the protectionist tone prevalent in France and other parts of Europe. According to this strong current of opinion, especially in the economic press, “protectionism would make Europe poorer”. It would make no sense for the EU as the “trading powerhouse” of the global economy to be against freer trade. Moreover, it would be a dangerous illusion, especially for a country like Portugal to think it could shield itself from the 597 world instead of adapting to it. Regarding agriculture the gap between France and Portugal is even bigger. Some investment is being made in Portugal in order to modernise agriculture further, and there is now a shift in policy towards promoting production – rather than actually paying for land to remain
Nicolau Santos: Ensinamentos da falta de combustíveis e do cerco a Lisboa, Expresso, 16.06.2008. 596 See Bruno Martins/Bruno C. Reis: Report for Portugal, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (ed.): EU-27 Watch, No. 6, March 2008, Berlin, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-27_Watch_No_6.pdf (last access: 25.08.2008); Bruno C. Reis: Report for Portugal, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (ed.): EU-25/27 Watch, No. 5, September 2007, Berlin, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-25_27_Watch_No_5.pdf (last access: 29.08.2008). 597 João Marques de Almeida: Globalização e Portugal, Diário Económico, available under: http://diarioeconomico.sapo.pt/edicion/diarioeconomico/opi nion/columnistas/pt/desarrollo/1143056.html (last access: 14.06.2007).
595

uncultivated in the name of rural development –, but of more added-value products, from olives to chestnuts. Still there is a widespread feeling that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) favours French and central European intensive agriculture, over Portuguese producers and products. The more protectionist approach apparently favoured by Sarkozy and his model of CAP would have costs in terms of EU relations with areas like Latin America with strong commercial agricultural sectors. In sum it would be negative for Portuguese interests, because it would not help its agriculture, and would have 598 additional costs in terms of food imports. There are those, however, namely in the ‘far left’, who are delighted to be able to quote a right-wing President of France and of the EU, in support of their more protectionist stance or of their more critical views, for instance, of the European Central Bank. 599 In terms of migration, Portugal officially followed the prevailing line within the EU of moderating but not fundamentally changing the more restrictive proposals of the French Presidency. Still, this is an area where the Portuguese government has made a major effort in terms of developing new and more effective strategies of integration. And while there is a concern with illegal trafficking, the government has also made clear it values the economic and cultural contributions of migrants. In terms of the wider public debate the new EU legislation has met with some strong criticism in Portugal because of its insufficient guarantees of basic human rights of migrants, in contrast with the vision of the EU as a normative power, exemplary in terms of 600 rule of law. The sometimes erratic and theatrical style of Sarkozy has obvious potential costs, not least in terms of public backtracking regarding some of his plans like the Mediterranean Union. However, there are also those who argue that this style may have the advantage of
Cf. Vítor Martins: O Lugar da PAC nas relações UEAmérica Latina, Lisboa 2001, p. 6 passim, still provides probably the most well-argued example of the kind of criticism of CAP that you can find in Portugal (Vítor Martins is now an advisor to the Portuguese President.). 599 For a critical note of the Left Block on the ECB quoting Sarkozy in support of its position see Left Block: BCE toma decisão controversa de subir taxa de juros para 4,25%, available under: www.esquerda.net (last access: 25.08.2008). 600 Noémia Pizarro: Nos bastidores da Directiva “Regresso”, available under: http://www.ieei.pt/post.php?post=679 (last access: 30.06.2008).
598

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confronting some taboos and forcing the debate of key issues, even if it is unlikely to produce the kind of sustained widespread consensus needed for any major reforms within the EU. Still the French EU-Presidency, if tempered and supported by Germany and, especially at the level of defence, also by Britain could produce some achievements, at least at the level of launching initiatives that others will then try to make work in practice. The establishment of a European External Action Service This is of concern only for a very narrow group of people, namely diplomats and some policymakers and academics. The main concern of the government, publicly expressed, is that the development of this external service of the EU should be done gradually. The Secretary of State for European Affairs synthesised this graphically: “if we try to move too fast, instead of having a big diplomatic bang, we might end up with a big boom”, therefore, things should be done with no rush in terms of numbers and tasks, while taking care to preserve a spirit of coordination and cooperation with national diplomatic services. However, Secretary of State Manuel Lobo Antunes also made clear that this service should be “integrated” in terms of including all the aspects of the EU’s external action. He then went on to add the important caveat that it also had to be “representative”, meaning that it should be concerned with welcoming diplomats and addressing concerns and policy priorities from different member states and, implicitly, also, with distributing postings and powers with even-handedness. For the Portuguese Foreign Ministry this is seen as a new challenge, requiring an expansion of the Portuguese diplomatic corps in order to make sure that there would be enough Portuguese diplomats available to be seconded to this new EU 601 external action service. The Portuguese official approach therefore could be described not as minimalist – because it in fact supports an integrated service for all of the EU’s external action – but as gradualist and concerned with maintaining in this process good working relations between the new EU external action service and national diplomatic services. There was no noticeable public discussion of this matter.
Manuel L. Antunes: Europa: E Agora? (Official Speech by the Secretary of State of European Affairs on Europe’s Day), 09.05.2008.
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Although it should be noted, that those hostile to the Lisbon Treaty, occasionally point to an external service of the EU as one of its negative points.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Romania ∗
(European Institute of Romania)

Some converging and some diverging interests As part of the preparation process of the French EU Presidency, which entailed highlevel visits in all the other 26 member countries by either President Sarkozy or Prime Minister François Fillon, Romania received Sarkozy on February 4th, when the French President also delivered a speech in front of the joint assemblies of the European Parliament, touching on several of the priorities of the Presidency. These were re-iterated and explained to Romanian audiences on July 3rd, in a press conference called by the Ambassador of France. Potential for disagreements as concerns the energy & climate package France aims at reaching a political agreement on these legislative initiatives before the end of its tenure in the office of EU-Presidency. This area, however, is one where Romania has some reservations and even specific grievances, which are unlikely to make it an ally of France in this endeavour. With respect to the liberalisation of the energy markets, Romania is a staunch supporter of ‘unbundling’ the transportation and distribution systems, respectively. France, on the other hand, has long opposed this initiative and, even in the ‘honest broker’ position imposed by its capacity as EU-Presidency, is unlikely to keep a low profile, as witnessed by the recent th statement (June 19 ) of the State Secretary for EU Affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, according to him, there needs to be a “third way” to sort out this issue, because “market liberalisation cannot take place without there first being a strategic vision of energy supply policy in the EU”. 602

European Institute of Romania. See: http://www.euractiv.com/en/opinion/france-intendsmeet-eu-presidency-expectations/article-173513 (last access: 22 August 2008).
602

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This contrasts sharply with the remarks made by President Băsescu just before the June European Council to the effect that Romania had carried out the unbundling prior to its accession to the EU, at the request – relayed by the European Commission – of several member states, which now seem reluctant to abide by the same rule: “Romania considers that no concession should be made and that it cannot be tolerated that some member states will keep in place vertically integrated companies, while the others, which have already implemented this reform, will just stay 603 Also relevant in this aside and watch”. respect is a remark made by a Romanian Liberal MEP, Daniel Dăianu, who, on the occasion of a debate devoted to the Lisbon Strategy held in Bucharest on March 26th commented, in relation with the EU energy market, that there are EU countries “which are more equal than others and they manage to impose their points of view”. 604 On the other hand, Romania’s concerns regarding the diversification and “securisation” of energy supplies have been echoed by the above-mentioned speech of President Sarkozy delivered to the Romanian parliament, when clear support for the “Nabucco” project was expressed and a statement of principle sounding like music to Romanian ears was made: “The independence of both our countries passes through the economic and energy independence of France and Romania – this is a major subject of co-operation 605 However, this between our countries”. concerns a matter where no common EU position exists, nor any legislative initiative has been made or is being contemplated by the Commission, hence its limited immediate relevance. Romania’s expressed reservations with respect to other elements of the energy/environment package suggest that it will not be one of the member states on which support the presidency can count for advancing it, but on the other hand there are indications that France (even if not the French Presidency as such!) might be willing to support some of them.
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Concerning the targets for the use of renewable energy, Romania easily meets them with regards to electrical energy. It already obtains over 29 percent of domestic consumption from renewable sources, and this proportion is set to reach 33percent in 2010, going up to 38percent in 2020. With respect to the gross consumption of energy in the aggregate, the Romanian government’s ‘energy strategy’ foresees reaching a percentage ensured from renewable sources of just 11 percent in 2010, meaning that the target of 24 percent for 2020 that the Commission’s proposal is attributing it is a very demanding one, especially because there is almost no use of renewable energy in the Romanian transportation sector. Moreover, Romania’s stance on the use of biofuels remains ambivalent: although its agricultural potential makes it a likely top producer of such fuels within the EU, Prime Minister Tăriceanu was quoted as saying, prior to the Summer European Council, that Romania will seek to insert into the Presidency conclusions a reference to the “elimination of subsidies for 606 crops devoted to the production of biofuels”. The environment part of the package of legislative proposals formulated by the European Commission in January came in the almost immediate aftermath of a dispute with Romania, triggered by the Commission’s decision to cut the allowances of greenhouse gas emissions provided in the Romanian national allocation plan. Romania, which is the first country covered by Annex 1 607 to the Kyoto Protocol to have ratified it, had devised a plan taking full credit for both the ability of its negotiators to set 1989 as reference year and the substantial reduction of emissions achieved in the subsequent decade, albeit on account of a chronic industrial recession. Concretely, Romania’s commitment assumed in the framework of Kyoto was to cut by 8 percent the greenhouse gas emissions in 2008-2012 relative to 1989, whereas, given the severe industrial restructuring undertaken in the 1990s, the reduction actually achieved was 608 of about 50 percent by the end of 2005! Hence, the national allocation plan foresaw a quota of 82.2 million certificates for 2007 and
As quoted by the daily newspaper Bursa, 19 June 2008. Annex 1 includes countries which assumed specific reduction commitments, i.e. developed, as well as and transition countries. 608 National greenhouse gas inventory data for the period 1990-2005, Note by the secretariat, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, FCCC/SBI/2007/30, 24 October 2007.
607 606

See: http://www.presidency.ro/?_RID=det&tb=date&id=9990&_ PRID=lazi (last access: 22 August 2008). 604 BizCity.ro, 28 March 2008, available under: http://www.bizcity.ro/ (last access: 22 August 2008). 605 See: http://www.cdep.ro/pls/steno/steno.stenograma?ids=6430 &idm=1&idl=1 (last access: 22 August 2008).

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an average of 97.6 million certificates for 20082012, only to be revised downwards by the European Commission, which decided late in 2007, to cut the 2007 allocation by 10.8 percent and by 20.7 percent for the period 2008-2012. Citing arguments of discrimination and excessive use of prerogatives by the Commission, the Romanian authorities filled an annulment action with the European Court of Justice on December 21st 2007. This notwithstanding, the Romanian government continued to play ‘by the rules’ and, on January 16th 2008, amended its allocation plan so as to abide by the Commission’s decision, pending adjudication of the case in Luxembourg. Over the course of January 2008, however, the Romanian press relayed several domestic estimates of the costs entailed by the Commission’s decision, ranging from EUR 500 million to over EUR 1.2 billion! On the face of it, the January 2008 proposals made by the European Commission with respect to the breakdown of allowances for greenhouse gas emissions seemed favourable to Romania. As emphasised, among others, by the Romanian Commissioner, Leonard Orban, Romania would be allowed to increase its emissions by 19 percent, whereas most other EU countries are being required to trim them 609 Once the fine print is internalised, down. however, there are no satisfactory reasons for Romania to be derived from this proposal. As indicated by a representative of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, on the occasion of a public debate held on March 27th, the reference year chosen by the Commission (2005) does not only disregard what the Spring European Council of 2007 had agreed upon (i.e. to take the year 1990 as reference), but also fails to give credit to the 50 percent reduction of emissions achieved by Romania between 1990-2005. Furthermore, the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development has expressed strong reservations vis-à-vis the cancellation, as per the European Commission’s proposals, of the gratuitous (free) allocation of emission certificates starting from 2013 and advocated, instead, a gradual transition towards such a system until 2020. It has to be said, especially against the background of Romania being one of the EU member states with the highest current per
609

capita level of emissions, that its stance risks putting it in direct opposition to the preferences of the presidency, given that – earlier in the year (i.e., on January 11th 2008) – President Sarkozy wrote a letter to Commission President Barroso, outlining France’s desire to see the cuts in global emissions expected from each member state expressed by reference to their respective per capita starting points. On the other hand, on the occasion of his recent tour of Estonia, Latvia and Hungary, the French Minister for Energy and Environment, Jean-Louis Borloo, admitted that the EU will have to ‘integrate’ the concerns expressed by his counterparts regarding the too harsh adjustment that the implementation of the Commission’s proposal would force on their economies. Romania shares very much the same concerns and, alongside the abovementioned Eastern European member states, plus Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria, has adhered to a joint position aiming at adapting the environment/energy package so as to take into account the specific problems of these countries. It may also be of interest to note that the issue is approached from rather different angles by Romanian MEPs. Whereas Adina-Ioana Vălean (ALDE group), contends that the European Commission’s proposal is a ‘false friend’ and the Romanian economy will suffer as a result of tight quotas it was attributed for 2008-2012, Marian-Jean Marinescu, vicepresident of the PPE group, sees the package 610 as “advantageous for Romania”. Immigration and asylum: low Romanian stakes, support for the presidency positions seems assured The issue of immigration and asylum has in Romania a very different significance from that in other member states. According to the National Immigration Office, there are only 65,000 foreigners residing in Romania (only a quarter of which originating from other EU countries), while the figure of Romanians living abroad, especially in Italy and Spain, is estimated at between 1.5 and 2 million persons. Hence, Romania has no special interest to protect against the ‘invasion’ of European regulations in this area, as witnessed among other things by the fact that it was one of the only 6 member states to have
610

See: http://www.moneyline.ro/articol_15024 (last access: 22 August 2008).

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fully transposed (as of end-2007) the European Directive on asylum. 611 Romania’s own priorities in this area, as expressed by President Băsescu before the Summer European Council, seem particularly low-key and outside the mainstream of EU’s preoccupations in the field: a labour mobility partnership between the EU and the Republic of Moldova (the launching of which, on a pilot basis, was to be welcomed in the Slovenian Presidency’s conclusions) and the even more esoteric “establishment of a co-operation platform on migration issues in the Black Sea 612 region”. CAP health-check seen eye-to-eye on the most salient topics The agricultural dossier is one where Romania’s positions have been closely aligned to that of France, not only because of similar interests, but also because of the good personal relations forged by the current Romanian Agricultural Minister (and former Secretary of State in charge with EU affairs in the Ministry of Agriculture) Dacian Cioloş, with his French counterparts. A very significant episode bearing witness of this closeness has unfolded in June, when Romania and France were the only EU member states to vote, in the relevant management committee, against the European Commission’s decision to extend the import duty exemptions for grains originating in third countries for another year. The episode is relevant also insofar as one of the often reiterated priorities of President Sarkozy refers to granting the ‘community preference’, which in that particular case Romania was the only other country willing to uphold. Concerning the most important stakes of the health-check, Romania’s stated positions are largely coincident with those of the French Presidency. In particular, there is a firm rejection of any attempt at phasing out the Community financing of this policy. In an intervention on 27 March 2008, during a debate organized by the European Commission’s representation in Romania on
Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status, in: Official Journal of the European Union L 326, 13 December 2005, pp. 13-34. 612 See: http://www.presidency.ro/?_RID=det&tb=date&id=9991&_ PRID=lazi (last access: 22 August 2008).
611

the topic of the potential revision of the EU budget, Minister Cioloş stated that the funds allocated for the CAP should support the defined goals of the policy, hence the need to first agree on them and then start discussing what sort of budget they need in order to get implemented. Regarding other stated preferences of the French Presidency, they are sometimes identical (and never colliding) with the positions taken by Romania. In particular, both countries are in favour of keeping the single payment system in place, as well as of ensuring that the smallest farms do not lose their entitlement to direct payments. The issue of extending the total ‘decoupling’ of payments is approached by both countries in a prudent way, so as not to hamper agricultural and rural diversity. Romania’s position concerning the elimination of the milk quotas until 2015 seems to entail less reservations than that expressed by France, while on the other hand the French hint at a more equitable distribution of funds (in particular, via instituting caps on the support granted to any large farm) do not tally well with Romania’s stated desire to avoid any capping of individual farm financing. Finally, one should take note of a point of potential disagreement, though it should be kept in mind that it originates at the highest political level, rather than at the technical level, where the two countries’ positions seem the most closely aligned. The sensitive issue pertains to the joint letter signed in June by the leaders of eight Central and Eastern European countries (including Romanian Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu) which requested that the full alignment of the level of direct payments granted to their farmers with that applicable in EU-15 be anticipated relative to what is provided for in the respective accession treaties. Obviously, should such issues be pursued further, it cannot fail to trigger the irritation of at least those of the ‘old’ member states whose share of the current agricultural budget would be most threatened, France being undoubtedly one of them. The establishment of a European External Action Service (EEAS) Possible developments at the institutional level of the EU external action area foreseen by the Lisbon Treaty – namely the new position of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the EEAS’s still insufficient defined project – have been tangentially

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tackled within the public debates in the context of various communication activities (conferences and roundtables) devoted to the reform treaty’s institutional innovations. Nevertheless, none of these occasions have generated substantial and thorough visions – at least at a public level – regarding the scope, the tasks, the composition, the division of competences and the possible modalities of coordinating activities the EEAS is supposing to deal with under the Council, under the European Commission or between the two institutions. The debates have been rather focused on the novelty of these issues, as well as on their impact on the EU’s future role in the international arena. In most cases, the Romanian opinions concerning the attempts to reform the external dimension of the EU tend to be in favour of any change meant to invigorate and to increase the efficiency and coherence of the actions undertaken in CFSP/ESDP fields. Some articles and pamphlets in the national press have outlined the most important and wide expectations regarding the composition and the functioning of the future European diplomatic service based upon the information presented by the various EU official documents or European channels and newspapers. The analysts have reiterated the concerns and the controversial elements associated with the EEAS ‘esoteric’, closed-doors debated and still unclear initiative, for example its potential to generate disagreements and reactions of rivalry within the Council and the European Commission, as well as among the EU institutions and the member states’ diplomatic structures, the risk of lacking coordination and duplicating efforts, the division of responsibilities related to the policy areas covered by its activities, the staffing issue and the unknown budgetary aspects. The articles occasionally touched upon the circulated ideas regarding the creation of a EEAS as a concrete measure and clear path towards the federalist 613 scenario of a ‘European super-state’ .

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Slovakia ∗
(Slovak Foreign Policy Association)

No real discussion about priorities of French EU-Presidency Since Slovakia’s fundamental concern inside the EU is to complete the country’s full-fledged membership by adopting the Euro and by getting rid of various transition arrangements imposed by the old EU-15, there was no real discussion about the priorities of the French Presidency. Probably the biggest reaction at the start of France’s EU-Presidency in Slovakia stirred the decision by Paris to abolish restrictions for the free movement of workers announced in July 2008. Slovakia’s discussion on the future architecture of the EU’s external relations is limited to the officials in the Foreign Ministry. Slovakia’s concerns about the European External Action Service reflect the larger problem that the country faces with both the quality and the availability of human resources. These inhibit the country’s ability to formulate preferences in the EU. According to Slovakia’s ambassador to the EU the country has three big concerns about the make-up and the workings of the European External Action Service. First, it wants to ensure the country’s ability to influence the placing of its own officials in the proposed EU diplomatic structures. Second, Slovakia wants a clear system of financing the European External Action Service. Third, the country wishes to benefit from the EU diplomatic corps in that the representatives of the European External Action Service will help represent its interests especially in those geographic areas where Slovakia has no or 614 very limited external representation. The biggest concern, arguably, is about the country’s potential influence inside the European External Action Service. Already today Slovakia’s central administration employs three times fewer people in EU departments than central administrations in neighbouring Czech Republic and Hungary. The constrained administrative capacity at home also has its external dimension in Brussels. Bratislava has been slow in pushing its cadres to mid-level management positions in EU institutions. According to Slovakia’s
Slovak Foreign Policy Association. The speech by Maros Sefcovic, head of Slovakia’s Representation to the EU, at an annual conference on Slovakia’s foreign policy, New Challenges and New Approaches, Bratislava, April 17, 2008.
614 ∗

See: http://www.romanialibera.ro/a112531/politicaexterna-europeana-unica-fara-corp-diplomatic.html (last access: 29 November 2007); See: http://www.euractiv.ro/uniuneaeuropeana/articles%7CdisplayArticle/articleID_13780/.html (last access: 9 June 2008).

613

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diplomats, the country is using its administrative quotas in the EU up to about 60 – 70 percent of what it could fill. 615 In July 2007 The Slovak Governance Institute (SGI) published a study examining the voice of Slovakia in Brussels. 616 The analysis pointed to three crucial shortcomings in Slovakia’s representation vis-à-vis the EU institutions. First, Slovakia is relatively weak at filling midmanagement posts in the European Commission, only the Czech Republic and Poland are lagging behind Slovakia. Second, only a limited number of young persons use the opportunity for internships in EU institutions, which limits the long-term development of quality human resources. Third, in comparison to other EU member states, Slovakia’s private sector does not have a sufficient institutional basis built at the EU level.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Slovenia ∗
(Centre of International Relations)

Keeping the momentum for the Western Balkan References to the French Presidency of the EU in Slovenia are scarce when it comes to their priorities, primarily due to two reasons: Slovenia’s Presidency preceded the French and there is a sense of a relief, maybe even saturation of the EU issues in the media, the public as well as among the political elites, who, after a relative calm in domestic politics, are quickly turning their attention to the September general elections. The second reason is the Irish ‘No’ and the situation the EU found itself after it. Dealing with the consequences of the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty has overshadowed the French Presidency priorities and with it the debate on them. However, there is one issue in which Slovenian government has a special interest: keeping the momentum for the Western Balkan states’ future in the EU. In the course of the Slovenian Presidency, the French, especially President Sarkozy, were already stating priorities for their term in office.
The speech by Maros Sefcovic, head of Slovakia’s Representation to the EU, at an annual conference on Slovakia’s foreign policy, New Challenges and New Approaches, Bratislava, April 17, 2008. 616 See: http://www.euractiv.sk/verejnasprava/clanok/oslabeny-hlas-slovenska-v-bruseli (last access: September 30, 2008). ∗ Centre of International Relations.
615

In January there was a sense of ‘stealing the limelight’. It lead to Prime Minister Janša stating in his presentation of Slovenian Presidency programme in the European Parliament on January 21st , that “Our Presidency will not be as spectacular as the French EU Presidency [...] but we promise to take on our tasks responsibly and to take forward the important subjects.” Tensions between the current and forthcoming presidency were also seen in Prime Minister Janša’s dismissal of the Mediterranean Union proposal. Janša was very clear, following President Sarkozy’s presentation of the project, saying that there is no need of doubling of the institutions (having in mind the already existing Barcelona Process, institutionalised within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership). Relations improved a lot already before the Spring Summit, but they became cordial and Slovenian political elite restrained from any comments on the French priorities, attitudes and goals, as well as on Slovenia’s own views on the issues, believing it inappropriate as long as it holds the Presidency, trying hard to play the honestbroker role. Still, Slovenian views on the issues amongst the French priorities can be identified. Above all, it needs to be mentioned that the French Presidency priorities are not surprising and that they follow up on many of the on-going processes. When it comes to energy policy, Slovenia was happy to reach an agreement in th the Council on the 6 of June on the (weakened) unbundling issue, closing the internal market debate related to energy market and thus opening the way for France to concentrate on the external security and supply related issues. In terms of ‘timing’ and ‘actor ness’ this is widely viewed as appropriate. Likewise holds true for the Common Agricultural Policy. The Health Check of the Common Agricultural Policy under the Slovenian Presidency advanced well and in cooperation with the French. It is viewed as only natural, in terms of Common Agriculture Policy’s own tempo and the French well-known interest in it. Concerning Mediterranean projects and immigration, Slovenia’s stance during its own Presidency was that of balancing the East and the South, having already taken upon itself this role during the preparations of the trio presidency programme (together with Germany and Portugal). It can be expected that it will join those, who will oppose

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duplications of structures, but support new impetus for both, the Mediterranean and the Eastern dimension, following on the joined Polish-Swedish proposal for the new impetus in the neighbourhood policy. On defence issues, though Slovenia is clearly a minor player, the French defence minister met his counterpart in Slovenia in mid-January to ensure the continuity of the policies, especially to discuss the EU’s military capabilities and the European Defence Agency’s (three year) budget. One desire is present, though: further enlargement and the process of bringing the Western Balkan states closer to the EU is undoubtedly the top interest of the Slovenian political elite and in the media. The Slovenian Presidency worked hard to retain support for further enlargement in the EU and to bring the Western Balkan states a step closer. It would like to see the French Presidency to not drop it from the top of the EU’s agenda, but to continue with processes such as visaliberalisation dialogue and especially actively working towards setting the date for beginning of accession negotiations with Macedonia.

autonomous European capacity. The Spanish government supports the French proposals to strength the resources and role of the European Security and Defence College and ideas such as the creation of an Erasmus military programme to foster exchanges among European military officers or the reinforcement of common schemes for training European military and civilian personnel. Related to the expected revision of the 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS) by the end of 2008 Spain is open to an update of the text, but in officials circles as well as academics, there are a lack of knowledge regarding the different steps of the process. According to the latest declaration of the Spanish Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero related to his priorities of Spanish foreign 617 policy : ”It is essential to go deeper in developing structures and capabilities, both civilian and military, with which the European Union can act. Three goals will guide Spanish policy: to push for the creation of a common security and defence policy with the necessary capabilities; maintaining the transatlantic link that is NATO, of which we are a firm and committed member; and encouraging cooperation between the EU and NATO. To this I will add our commitment to the Spanish Armed Forces in order to guarantee our defence and contribute to the defence of Europe”. In this context, French ideas towards the necessary level of civilian and military capabilities to meet Europe’s proclaimed ambitions, the strengthening of the mechanisms of common funding for ESDP operations and progress towards a European defence procurement market are in general, well received in Spain. Apparently, one of the most urgent objectives for the French is to adopt measures that imply a concrete and visible progress in the EU’s capability to conduct military operations, including the ability to plan and command such operations. Two instruments are central for this scheme: Permanent Structured Cooperation and a Permanent Operational Headquarters (OHQ). Spain, which is a strong supporter of Permanent Structured Cooperation, has led the discussion over the details of Permanent
Address by the Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero “In Spain's interest: A Committed Foreign Policy” on 16 June 2008 organised by the Elcano Royal Institute available in English, French and Spanish at: http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/ Content?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/Elcano_in/Zonas_in /Europe/00027 (last access: September 30, 2008).
617

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Spain ∗
(Elcano Royal Institute)

French EU-Presidency: positive expectation In general, the French EU-Presidency has been received with positive expectation in Spain. Some of the French priorities are considered as main issues for the Spanish European policy. Strengthening ESDP Related to defence matters, France’s EUPresidency arrives in a context characterised by a constructive transatlantic and intraEuropean environment, but with the shadow caused by Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. Despite the limitations of different national interests and priorities of the EU members, the favourable atmosphere offers the French EU-Presidency a good opportunity to revitalise ESDP and advance on the road to European strategic autonomy. The Spanish National Security is linked to the security of the European continent, it is a ‘shared security’, and Spain offers its full support to the development of an independent and
∗

Elcano Royal Institute.

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Structured Cooperation, but after the Irish ‘No’, the different initiatives were paralyzed because the mechanism of Permanent Structured Cooperation depends on the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. In addition, Spain is open to the idea of a Permanent Operational Headquarters. Invigorating the EU-Mediterranean relations Other of the priorities of the France’s EU Presidency is to reinvigorate the EUMediterranean relations. This geographic area is one of the most important regions of the Spanish foreign policy interest. In this context, the Prime Minister Zapataro has thanked President Sarkozy for encouraging the debate on reforming the Barcelona Process. At the beginning of the conversations the Spanish government received the proposal with a degree of mistrust and caution. Spain’s main concern was that the initiative could damage the Barcelona Process. Nevertheless, Spain’s perception has changed and the Spanish Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero, expressed his commitment towards the project, which he described as a new stage of the Barcelona Process. Spain is highly interested in developing the projects defined in the Paris summit for the Mediterranean that was held on July, 13th, for example, towards a “Mediterranean Solar Plan”. The Spanish business sectors are involved in developing alternative energies in the Mediterranean specially focused on the solar energy. However, and despite the positive assessment of the Paris summit outcome that diplomatic circles have made, the scholars and experts of the region are more sceptics towards the constructive impact of the Mediterranean Union project. It is believed that there are nothing really new in the Paris summit declaration. Furthermore, it is not clear, how the Barcelona Process and the Mediterranean Union will function, how the relations with the ENP, the European Commission, etc., will be. According to Spanish diplomats and the summit declaration, the details of the new institutional structure, the functioning of the copresidency, as well as the composition, seat and funding of the Secretariat will be decided during the next Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting in November 2008. European Pact on immigration and asylum without integration contract Migrations issues are one of the top priorities of the Spanish European policy. Spain has

welcomed the French idea to put on its Presidency program this issue and has agreed with the proposal of an “European Pact on immigration and asylum" at the next EU summit in October 2008. However, one aspect of the proposal was strongly rejected by the Socialist Spanish Government. Specifically, the paragraph on the "integration contract" in the document initially presented to EU capitals: “The European Council recognizes the interest of the integration contract for third-country nationals admitted for long-term stays and encourages the member states to propose such plans in a national context. This integration contract should be obligatory. It will include the obligation to learn the national language, national identities and European values, such as the respect of the physical integrity of others, the equality of men and women, tolerance, the obligation of school and the obligation to educate children." Spain led the fight against the clause becoming a European policy; it is believed that it will be more potential for controversy and discrimination than contributing to the better integration of immigrants. But, there is an important domestic reason for which Spain has forced France to abandon its plans for a compulsory "integration contract" for immigrants. It should take into consideration that during the recent presidential campaign, which won the Socialist Party (centre-left) and the Prime Minister Zapatero was reelected, the main opposition party, the Popular Party (centre-right) led by Mariano Rajoy, proposed an “Immigration contract” similar to the Sarkozy’s initiative. This project was very criticized by the Socialist Party. Economic issues employment,…) (CAP, energy,

During the French Presidency, the Common Agriculture Policy will undergo the so-called health check which will be previous to a more ambitious reform. The opposition leader, the conservative Mariano Rajoy offered last June full parliamentary consensus to define the Spanish position in agriculture matters. With regard to energy policy, and according to Zapatero himself, Spain is going to keep working to develop a European market that is more transparent and efficient, with supply security and sustainability. For Spain it is particularly important to promote

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interconnections (with France) and the harmonising of the major economic players so that uniform rules do not benefit or harm different companies. Spain will maintain the phasing-out of nuclear power plants and it is making a big effort in investment in renewables; something quite different from French priorities. 618 The European External Action Service After the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, the initiatives and the studies related to implement the new institutional architecture were paralyzed. However, there is an increasing concern related to these issues because of the next EU Spanish Presidency (first semester in 2010) and it is uncertain under which institutional framework it will be developed.

presidencies and has been accepted by the other member states. 620 According to Cecilia Malmström, Swedish Minister for EU Affairs, the Swedish overarching themes are all included. These are: • • • • • Climate, energy and environment; Jobs, growth and competitiveness; A safer and more transparent Europe; The Baltic Sea region and relations with neighbouring countries; The EU as a global actor and continued enlargement. up a working months of its the 18-month

Sweden will also draw programme for the six presidency, based on 621 programme.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Sweden ∗
(Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

France and Sweden work closely together, while disagreeing on certain topics France has presented a number of primary issues for its presidency, in short the following: • Growth and employment; • Europe’s role in the world; • The future Europe; • Protection of citizens and immigration. 619 The French Presidency is connected to the Swedish one in the three-presidency group consisting of France, the Czech Republic and Sweden, with the Swedish Presidency starting on July 1st 2009. A joint 18-month programme has been drawn up by the three future

There is, as explained by Cecilia Malmström, agreement among the three countries on the goal of having the treaty and the European External Action Service (EEAS) in place during the 18-month period as well as to start discussions on the budget reform and to finish the last cycle in the Lisbon Strategy (the EU growth strategy) in a positive way during this period. The three furthermore agree on the climate issue as the most important one, to which can be added energy issues, the sustainability strategy and others. Sweden is also content that the Swedish idea of a Baltic Sea strategy has been accepted. Several other issues were also brought up by the Minister for EU Affairs as endorsed by the group of three 622 within the 18-month programme. The French interest in updating the European Security Strategy is also shared by Sweden. Part of this effort, according to Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, is to look over the various peace instruments available: diplomatic, economic and military. In order to be a real power for peace Europe needs the

See the addresses by the Prime Minister José Luis Rosdríguez Zapatero and the opposition leader Mariano Rajoy in the Parliamentary Journal of Debates (Diario de Sesiones del Congreso de los Diputados, IX Legislatura), 18th Plenary Session, 25 June, 2008, Spanish Congress, available under: www.congreso.es/portal/page/portal/Congreso/PopUpCGI ?CMD=VERLST&BASE=puw9&FMT=PUWTXDTS.fmt&D OCS=11&QUERY=%28CDP200806250019.CODI.%29#(Página5 (last access: September 30, 2008). ∗ Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 619 EurActiv: France outlines EU Presidency priorities, 30 August 2007, available under: http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/france-outlines-eupresidency-priorities/article-166313.

618

Council of the European Union: 18 Month Programme of the French, Czech and Swedish Presidencies, 30 June 2008, Council document 11249/08, POLGEN 76. 621 Government Offices of Sweden: The Swedish Presidency, available under: http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/10302/a/98858 (last access: 19 August 2008). 622 Statement by Cecilia Malmström, in: Committee on EU Affairs: EU-nämndens stenografiska uppteckningar (stenographic reports of the Committee on EU Affairs), 13 June 2008, pp. 15-17.

620

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means that ambitions. 623

are

commensurate

to

its

receive the same information, use the same type of evidence and in the same way, etc. 627 A number of institutional issues related to the different clauses of the Lisbon Treaty are now under discussion. One of them concerns the role of the rotating presidency, and another the EEAS, which is now being discussed within the Committee for Foreign Affairs. Little is as yet known however, about the Swedish views taken on this.

There are, however, a number of important issues on which France and Sweden have different views. One of the points of disagreement concerns the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the connected issues of free trade and the EU budget. 624 Sweden strongly endorses free trade, to give improved access to the European market for the agricultural sector in developing countries and to remove disturbing factors such as tariffs and subventions. The EU bears a responsibility in the present food crisis, according to Cecilia Malmström, due to the effects of the CAP. 625 Another point of disagreement between Sweden and France concerns enlargement, for which there is Swedish endorsement, even beyond the present candidates and the Balkans, which are the only ones mentioned by the 18-month programme. Furthermore, Sweden argues for a more open immigration policy than France. Part of this is that there should be better possibilities to enter the EU for those who seek work. This is also in Europe’s interest, Sweden argues, since there is an increased demand for labour in 626 Regarding asylum seekers, Europe. Sweden has launched a new proposal aiming at giving refugees similar treatment. The goal is to stop ’asylum shopping‘ but also to improve chances for asylum seekers to enter countries that are now very restrictive. At present the European Asylum Curriculum is an educational project led by Sweden with participation by the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, in which those who deal with asylum applications are to
Carl Bildt: Nu måste vi göra EU till en militär fredsmakt (It is time to make the EU a military power for peace), Dagens Nyheter, 2 January 2008. 624 Regeringskansliet (Government Offices): Tal vid SIEPS årskonferens 2007 – The Purse of the European Union: Setting Priorities for the Future, Speech of Cecilia Malmström at the Annual SIEPS Conference, 26 October 2007, available under: http://regeringen.se/sb/d/7415/a/91254 (last access: 19 August 2008); Rikard Bengtsson/Gunilla Herolf: A modern budget reflecting the real need of the EU, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (ed.):EU-27 Watch,No. 6, March 2008, pp. 182-183, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-27_Watch_No_6.pdf (last access: 19 August 2008). 625 Statements by Cecilia Malmström, in: Committee on EU Affairs:, EU-nämndens stenografiska uppteckningar (stenographic reports of the Committee on EU Affairs), 13 June 2008, pp. 3-4 and 9-11. 626 Tobias Billström (Minister for Migration)/Cecilia Malmström (Minister for EU Affairs): Slå hål på fästning Europa (Make a hole in fortress Europe), Dagens Nyheter, 9 May 2008.
623

French Presidency and the future of the EU

Turkey ∗
(Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University)

Union for the Mediterranean perceived as an obstacle to accession Turkey has been reluctant in discussing issues related to the EU since the suspension of accession negotiation on eight chapters and the topics that attract some attention, are the ones related to Turkey’s EU membership. In this framework, after the French government announced the priorities for its Council Presidency, such as, energy and climate change, immigration, defence, and the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, economic growth and employment and the Mediterranean Union, the only subject that attracted some attention has been the Mediterranean Union due to its perceived close link with Turkey’s membership to the Union. The Mediterranean Union has been perceived as an alternative of the European Union that is being created, which would hinder Turkey’s EU membership. Therefore, foreign affairs ministry, prime ministry, academic circles, journalists as well as the public were sceptical of the whole idea, and Turkey for some time could not decide on how to react to this proposal. On the one hand, Turkey rejected the creation of a Mediterranean Union instead of the European Union, but on the other, she is willing to participate in an initiative concerning the region in order to be an active player rather than an outside observer. From the beginning of Mediterranean policies of the EU, Turkey has been engaged in these policies starting with the Barcelona Process, and naturally

Dagens Nyheter: Sverige strider för rättvis asyl inom EU (Sweden fights for fair asylum within the EU), 6 July 2008. ∗ Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University.

627

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Turkey desired to be included in the new initiative as well. After the criticisms, the name of the initiative has been changed to Union for the Mediterranean, which meant loosening the idea of integration and a union in the Mediterranean region as an alternative to the European Union. This new initiative would be only completing and enriching the EU institutions and structures. At the time this report was written, after long consultations at the higher echelons of the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Prime Minister Recep. Tayyip Erdoğan decided to participate in the meeting on the Union for the Mediterranean in Paris on the 13th July, 2008, after France gave assurance to allay Turkey’s concerns over EU membership. Neither the Lisbon Treaty, nor the provisions for the new post of a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy attracted attention in Turkey. The Turkish public, journalists, academics, and bureaucrats have been reluctant towards the debates and discussion on the creation of an European External Action Service. Especially after the suspension of the negotiation talks on eight chapters, the Turkish public lost interest in the issues related to the EU. Moreover domestic politics issues such as the court case against the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – Justice and Development Party), and the case of “Ergenekon” involving retired generals, journalists, civil society leaders and so on have been on the agenda rather than the international relations or the EU. In theory however, Turkey would be in favour of the establishment of an European External Action Service in order to increase the capability of the EU in international arena as a global political actor.

For the British government, continued discussions over the future of the Lisbon Treaty, or its implementation by other means, is politically unwelcome. It, like commentators from across the political spectrum, takes the position, at least in public, that the European Union is best served by concentrating on the business of governing. British polls consistently show wide support for concerted action in the field of energy and climate change; an area in which the European Union is uniquely well placed to act effectively and with the support of its citizens. On the Common Agricultural Policy, British attitudes remain almost instinctively hostile, and further substantive reform is hoped for, if not expected, during the French Presidency. EEAS should be under national control There is no public debate on this in the United Kingdom. The British government’s concern is not so much with the scope of the service’s activities, as with the origin of the officials who make it up. The British government is very eager that the service should have a large proportion of national civil servants in its ranks, a feature which will reinforce, in the British government’s view, the intergovernmental nature of European foreign policy.

French Presidency and the future of the EU

United Kingdom ∗
(Federal Trust for Education and Research)

Policy on climate change favoured, while opposing CAP British debate about the French Presidency of the European Union is now focused on the fallout from the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty.
∗

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3
Public opinion and European integration
According to current Eurobarometer results, “Support for membership of the European Union is at its highest in over a decade” (Standard Eurobarometer 68 / Autumn 2007 – TNS Opinion & Social, p. 22). • Is this trend mirrored by national opinion polls in your country and how can trends be explained? Please give a more detailed picture of how European integration / the EU is perceived by political elites, media, business community, citizens or pressure groups.

•

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Public opinion and European integration

Austria ∗
(Austrian Institute of International Affairs)

Support for EU reached a new low According to current Eurobarometer results, “Support for membership of the European Union is at its highest in over a decade”. 628 In the case of Austria this trend cannot be confirmed. The contrary is the case, as support for the European Union has reached a new low. The results of the Eurobarometer in spring 2008 have shown a steady decrease in support for the EU in general and for Austrian membership in particular. However, it should be maintained that the polls were conducted in a time dominated by heated discussions on the Reform Treaty. The results are however alarming: Only 28 percent of Austrians associate a positive picture with the European Union compared to 35 percent in autumn last year. Trust into the institutions of the European Union has also reached the bottom. Only 37 percent of the Austrian population sees the European Commission as trustworthy, this means a loss of 11 percent since autumn. Only 36 percent regard the EU membership as a positive thing. The outcome shows a very deep-rooted scepticism of the Austrian population towards the European Union. Nevertheless, it was also very striking that more than a third of the interviewees had no opinion on the question whether the EU was something positive or rather something negative. Analysing this result, many different factors should be considered. As mentioned above the opinion poll was conducted during a very intense and polarizing discussion on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Some civil society organisations protested against the government’s policy to ratify the treaty in parliament without any involvement of the broader public in form of a referendum. It is a similar position to that of the two right wing parties – BZÖ and FPÖ – which both fiercely demanded a referendum on the issue. Another factor which has negatively affected public opinion was the fast rising prices for energy and food, as well as the growing inflation. In the newspaper “Die Presse” an article written by Doris Kraus and Wolfgang Böhm analysed very profoundly the reasons for Austrians’ deep EU scepticism. They stated that the EU
∗ 628

has lost its purpose; it is not clear what it stands for. One of the reasons why this is perceived that way is the growing number of issues the EU has to deal with. This has led to the question whether the EU stands for the interests of the common people or for the interests of the business world. As when it comes down to interests the EU – especially the Commission – tends to speak out for the industry and its needs. Moreover, the Austrian public has held the EU responsible for two particular problems; the question of transit through the Tyrolean Alps and open access for German students to Austrian universities. In conclusion one can say that the EU has a substantial image problem in Austria and political parties and actors as well as the media should be more careful in their presentations and comments. European integration / the EU perceived by business community, media, and civil society The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (Wirtschaftskammer Österreichs, WKÖ) is an important actor in Austria’s politics and opinion building. The WKÖ has a great interest in the promotion of the EU, therefore it has dedicated a large part of its webpage to all relevant EU topics for the economic sector. Apart from offering basic information, they have different types of newsletters and information services. This summer the WKÖ started an information tour called “Europaschirm” (Europe-umbrella) to rise the level of information regarding the EU, since a great part of the population does not feel well or properly informed. The EU and European integration, like the enlargement, are widely seen as a chance. The already mentioned ÖGB has as a kind of counterpart to the WKÖ also a predominantly positive position towards the EU. They also offer on their webpage information on the EU and on specific social and trade union issues. But they are also critical towards the European Union, especially regarding the prevalence of the single European market before social needs and issues. However, they see the Lisbon Treaty as a positive development towards more democracy. The second important actor in Austria’s representation of workers and employees is the Arbeiterkammer (Chamber of Labour, AK). Their tendency is also to be positive towards the EU, as well as the Lisbon Treaty, but under

Austrian Institute of International Affairs. Standard Eurobarometer 68, Autumn 2007, p. 22.

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the condition that the Austrian government should engage more in social issues at EU level. Unlike the ÖGB, the AK does not offer further information on the EU. The other big player in Austria’s economy and market is the Industriellenvereinigung (Industry’s Federation, IV). They are like the other actors EU friendly and support the enlargement of the EU. The IV has also criticised very explicitly the SPÖ for their announcement to set coming EU treaties and similar decisions under a referendum, which meant a total turning back in their EU policy for the last 13 years (this change will be explained more profoundly at a later time). Their level of offered information is not very high, but they are linked properly with the important institutions and information sources of the EU. The Austrian media has been rather negative in its coverage of EU and the EU integration. The EU is widely seen as a big black hole. No one really understands how it works and how the decisions are taken; even more, it’s seen as a kind of ivory tower with a huge administration apparatus that makes decisions far away from the daily concerns of the population. The media in general covers EU topics if it concerns Austrian interests, especially when they are affected negatively, and in connection with party politics or events. Some media actors try to be objective, but also critical, others act in a populist way. In the media real information on the EU institutions, mechanisms, decision taking procedures etc. is rarely offered. Regarding the print media, Austria has one unique newspaper – “Neue Kronenzeitung” – with a coverage of 44 percent, it is qualified as yellow press. It uses its high level of coverage to influence the decision making process and the public opinion. Often the articles carry a message between the lines which can be formulated as ‘Austria against the EU’ or the other way round. One positive example of civil society trying to inform and discuss about Europe is the discussion rounds “Reden über Europa” organised by several institutions and the Austrian newspaper “Der Standard”. This campaign started in 2006 in Munich and had had four discussion rounds in Vienna in the first half year of 2008. It will move on to London and Venice this autumn and come back to Vienna in 2009. These discussion rounds were held in the “Burgtheater”, and several actors from economy, politics, culture

etc. were invited to discuss in public on Europe and answer the questions from the public.

Public opinion and European integration

Belgium ∗
(Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles)

Belgians more favourable to EU than EUaverage According to the Eurobarometer 68, 48 percent of the people in Belgium think the EU are headed in the right direction, and there is a clear optimism for the future of the EU (75 percent). 629 Belgian citizens are indeed generally seen as more Euro-enthusiast than average in Europe. A recent poll showed that Benelux countries and Ireland are the most enthusiast member states about the participation of their country in the EU. Belgium is the fourth most favourable country in the EU, with 66 percent of people supporting the EU. 630 However, a recent poll of the newspaper Le Soir (to be analyzed with all the necessary reservations on the quantity and representativeness of the respondents) showed that only 49.1 percent (1993 persons) would have voted ‘Yes’ in a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty while 28.2 percent (1143 persons) would have voted ‘No’ but above all 20.4 percent (829 persons) did not know what 631 Generally, Belgians the treaty was about. are more favourable to the EU than the EU average, but it is worth noting that a substantial number of people are against the Lisbon Treaty or do not know what it is, contrary to the cliché image of a constant and unconditional Euro-enthusiast population. European integration / the EU perceived by political elites and citizens As noted above, Belgium is a country where citizens are generally in favour of Europe, the EU and the idea of federalism at the European
Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles. Standard Eurobarometer No. 68, October-November 2007. 630 See Knack, 24/06/08, available under: www.knack.be (last access: 22/07/2008); La Libre Belgique, 24/06/08, available under: www.lalibre.be (last access: 22/07/2008); Le Soir, 24/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 631 See Le Soir, 13/06/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008).
629 ∗

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level. It is one of the founding members of the EEC and some well-known supporters of the European Union were/are Belgian (Paul-Henri Spaak, Guy Verhofstadt, Étienne Davignon, Jean Rey). The political actors are also enthusiast toward the EU. However, as within the population (see above), some resistance occurred in the political parties in the 1980s and 1990s. On socio-economic policies, two trends can be observed. On the one hand, centre-right and Christian-democratic parties are rather satisfied with the evolution of the European integration, although lately the Christiandemocrats stressed the importance of a more social Europe. On the other hand, the Greens and the Socialists are more and more reticent vis-à-vis the EU and would like to see more developed social (for the latter) and environmental (for the former) policies at the 632 supranational level. On the institutional evolution of the EU, another division can be seen. The mainstream political parties (i.e. left-wing, right-wing, greens and Christian-democrats) accept and support the EU structures, although they would favour a more federal and democratic Union. Nevertheless, some parties such as the regionalists (“N-VA”) and an extreme-right party (“Vlaams Belang”) reject some pillars of the current institutional architecture and promote a ‘Europe of the regions’ (the regionalists) and a ‘Europe of the people’ 633 (extreme-right).

generally. Thinking about Europe was thinking about the EU, and the institutional expression of European integration came to constitute the main lens through which a peripheral and marginalised society imagined its ‘return to Europe’. High levels of support for the EU have been the expression of this overall attitude. Yet, once in the organisation, attitudes are beginning to undergo important transformations even if the overall framework of support remains intact. As mentioned, high levels of support for the EU have been a feature of Bulgarian public opinion for a number of years now. Data for 2008 is within this vein but with some important caveats that need to be explicated. Support remains in the 65-70 percent range with a small minority of about 17-20 percent opposed. Over the years, there has been a fairly clear structure of support and discontent in terms of type of employment, residence and life opportunities. Essentially, support is quite evenly spread across social and age group, but is most pronounced among the young (up to 35 years), the highly educated (tertiary education) and the residents of the capital and big cities where economic activity is most evident. Conversely, displeasure is most often encountered among the elderly (over 60 years of age whose relative social group weight is significant in Bulgaria), the residents of small towns and villages and the less educated (people with only primary education). This is somewhat stereotypical but captures the main trend. Does the picture start changing?

Public opinion and European integration

Bulgaria ∗
(Bulgarian European Community Studies Association)

People detect EU’s influence on everyday life Membership in the EU has been a key element in the efforts of Bulgarian society and polity to undergo change in the post 1989 context. The hopes of ‘rejoining Europe’ and of ‘regaining the rightful place of the country’ marked political and public thinking not simply about Europe but about international relations more
Pilet, J-B./Van Haute, E.: Les réticences à l’Europe dans un pays europhile. Le cas de la Belgique, in: Coman R./Lacroix, J.: Les résistances à l’Europe: cultures nationales, idéologies et stratégies d’acteurs, Bruxelles, 2007, pp. 211-216. 633 Ibid., pp. 216-218. ∗ Bulgarian European Community Studies Association.
632

While this overall picture continues to be accurate, some important changes are starting to occur. One is the increasing trend of EU disapproval among people engaged in small and medium-size enterprises. While it would be premature to state that there has been a reversal of support there, clearly growing reluctance is setting in. The other significant movement is happening in the social group of secondary education/mid-size town individuals, where uncertainty about the EU is on the rise. Again, it will be incorrect to posit the emergence of stable trends but such changes need to be registered if only to provoke some discussion of the context of EU perceptions. Less than 18 months into Bulgaria’s EU membership, the most important change at hand is the disappearance of Europe and the emergence of the EU. For a very long period of

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time after 1989, Bulgarian citizens have treated Europe and the EU as largely congruent. Europe meant the EU, returning to or rejoining Europe meant joining the EU. Consequently, the entire approach to EU matters has been one of focusing on the big picture rather than focusing on the detail. People were interested in EU politics but not in EU policies. The overarching importance of accession displaced what little attention was devoted to policy detail and its impact on social and professional groups, economic sectors, etc. The important process at work currently seems to be the growing differentiation between things European and things EU. In other words, two things could be happening. One is that an increasing number of citizens are starting to identify EU policies and their immediate impact on daily work and life. Alternatively, people might simply be attributing various events to EU policy and impact, thereby starting to produce a more nuanced view of Bulgaria’s membership. In fact, both events are occurring at the same time. There is sufficient anecdotal evidence that the cost of regulation and compliance is beginning to have an impact on small businesses and not all of that cost is being offset by the opportunity to participate in the single market. Some economic sectors such as textiles for instance, are also not particularly pleased about some of the side effects of accession such as increases in labour costs. Furthermore, the 18 months of EU membership have coincided with a significant increase in inflation. By expert opinions, various accession-related processes produced some inflation, but there is clearly the non-EUrelated process of commodity inflation, which is hitting the Bulgarian economy. Moreover, some of the inflation may also be due to insufficiently developed markets within the country. Whatever the case, this causes a significant number of Bulgarians make a link between EU accession and rising inflation. Such a perception is likely to have the most impact on social groups, which are less likely to benefit from the systemic benefits of membership as free movement of people, opportunities to study in the old member states, etc. Should such a dynamic further structure and progress, we are likely to witness the emergence of two big camps as far as EU attitudes are concerned. One would be clustered around younger, more entrepreneurial people, less reliant on public sector employment, able to benefit from accession and flexible on the labour market,

residing in the capital city and the main big cities around the country. The second group would be clustered around older, retired people, reliant on public sector income, less able to participate fully in the open EU market, and residing in smaller towns and cities and villages. Positing such a trend does not amount to predicting the emergence of a new eurosceptic nation on the EU map. Rather, it should be perceived as a correction to a highly inflated and unrealistic set of expectations from a persistently marginalized culture and polity. Attitudes of main actor groups Beyond this macro picture of Bulgarian attitudes towards the EU, some important differences need to be mentioned. Significant sections of the political elites approached the EU as a decisive source of legitimacy for their programmes and policies. In a way, the EU acquis communautaire was a ready-made package, sufficient to transform and do the reform work if only it were implemented effectively. Political discourse has been persistently shaped by the EU project and its consequences for acceding countries. No significant political player until the emergence of the “Ataka” Party questioned the importance of EU accession in the overall transition of the country. The EU had a crucial place in the larger geopolitical task of re-positioning Bulgaria in the post-1989 world order. This was coupled with NATO accession as well as membership in organizations such as the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization. Importantly and as indicated, accession work was seen as doing reform work. While subject to debate, this linkage may have facilitated the introduction of some otherwise painful measures. At the same time, once discontent with some of the outcomes of the transition surfaced, it was also directed partially at the EU. The internal blame game acquired a EU dimension as politicians blamed the organization for some of the displacements caused by economic restructuring. It is worth noting however, that such critique has never been solely EU-oriented. Rather, a wider conspirational mode of explanation was offered, purporting to aim at the demotion of Bulgaria. The mainstream political elite has so far refrained from using ‘Brussels blame games’, but as sectoral problems deepen, such tactics might emerge in the not so distant future.

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The media have been generally very supportive of the EU and the country’s accession to the organisation. This has been true at the level of editorial policy but also at the level of individual journalists. If treated as a sub-group, they would belong to the more mobile, better-educated and flexible group in Bulgarian society, which has been able to benefit either as students or professionals from membership. The business community has not been actively involved in debates about Bulgaria and the EU. Generally, a positive attitude has prevailed focusing on a number of benefits accrued from membership. These include EU funding, improved rule of law, access to the single market, ability to tap into the company expertise across the market, etc. There has been one consistent complaint on the part of business throughout the 1990s, and then again before the signing of the Accession Treaty in 2005. It centres on the criticism that successive governments have not involved business in the accession negotiation process, thereby depriving it of detailed information about the acquis communautaire and the necessary adjustments and investments that needed to be made. The cost of compliance remains an important issue but access to EU funding will be the decisive points on which future attitudes would hang. Currently, anecdotal evidence suggests that small and medium-size businesses are having a rather difficult time accessing these at the expense of ‘big business’ that is close to executive and legislative circles. Citizens and pressure groups are likely to remain strong supporters of the EU, as they view the organisation as an ally in their continued efforts to reform an insufficiently open and transparent Bulgarian state. Yet this belies a misunderstanding of the essential dynamic of the European process, which relies on internally produced change rather than on change of the means of external guidance and intervention. In any case, the persistent selfperception of the frailty of polity and society will keep on producing largely positive attitudes towards the EU. Bulgarians still see themselves as inhabitants of a persistent periphery in need of the ‘centre’s’ attention.

Public opinion and European integration

Croatia ∗
(Institute for International Relations)

Euroscepticism on rise in Croatia The level of public support for EU membership in Croatia has stayed rather low in the first half of 2008, according to the recently published Eurobarometer results (June 2008), which shows that only about 30 percent of population speak positively of EU membership, while 39 percent are pretty reserved and consider it neither a good nor a bad thing. 634 The results have followed the trend of rather modest levels of general public support to the European integration process, which started in the spring 2007. 635 Generally, this is quite a disappointing level of support of Croatian citizens to the EU membership and many analysts consider it as a rise of euroscepticism, 636 especially when compared to Turkey (49 percent) or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (72 percent), what have much higher levels of citizens’ support for the EU accession process. Although such trends of lower levels of public support prior to the accession were also seen before the last wave of enlargement, this situation nevertheless calls for better communication strategy from the government in the future; President Mesić has criticized the government for failing to communicate the benefits of the EU membership more 637 Media persuasively to Croatian citizens. reports attempted to identify the possible reasons for current Croatian euroscepticism and mostly referred to harsh benchmarks Croatia got for some negotiating chapters (judiciary, competition), which has caused general stalemate in the negotiations, especially during the Slovenian Presidency. Also, most citizens consider it unfair to see that the EU is ready to lower standards for Serbia especially with regard to war crimes. And finally, the Irish ‘No’ has underlined again the
Institute for International Relations. Standard Eurobarometer 69, First Results, June 2008, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb_69 _first_en.pdf (last access: 27 June 2008). 635 According to the results of Standard Eurobarometer 68, December 2007 the Croatian citizens’ support for EU membership was at the level of 35 percent, which was an increase compared to the very low support of 29 percent in spring 2007. 636 See Veronika Reškovic: “Eurosceptics: only one third of Croats for the EU”. Jutarnji list, 27 June 2008, p. 3; “Croats indifferent towards European Union”. Business.hr, 24 June 2008, available under: http://business.hr/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=d16f99cf-c39748b4-8369-d2e3ce9df0f7 (last access: 2 June 2008). 637 Natasa Bozic: “The Government responsible for Euroscepticism”. Jutarnji list, 28 June 2008, p. 6.
634 ∗

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uncertainty of membership, regardless what Croatia does to comply with requirements. 638 It is also interesting that media found it important to stress that the Croatian citizens still show a higher degree of trust in European institutions such as European Commission (36 percent) and European Parliament (40 percent) than the Croatian government (21 percent) and parliament (i.e. Sabor)-21 percent. Similar results could be found in the other European countries. 639 The recent domestic opinion poll done after the Irish ‘No’ by daily “Vecernji list” on the sample of 900 citizens, showed that despite the widespread impression of growing scepticism, the majority of Croatian citizens would still vote ‘Yes’ on referendum for accession if it would have been called now. Namely, according to the results, 58 percent of interviewed citizens would support joining EU, while around 53 percent will also support joining NATO if this 640 question was also asked on referendum. As opposed to the EU integration, the substantial positive change in the public opinion in Croatia happened with regard to the citizens’ support to NATO membership. This was especially noticeable prior to the formal decision on inviting Croatia to join NATO in April 2008, when all the national polls showed a significant rise of public support. The rise of the support could be attributed to an intensive information campaign on the costs and benefits of joining NATO led by the Croatian government, which was at that time very eager to comply with all the remaining conditions of getting formal invitation from NATO at the Bucharest Summit. One of their conditions was also to prove that NATO membership has substantial citizens’ support (over 50 percent), which could be seen either from opinion polls or from national referendum on the matter. Most of the domestic polls done at that time demonstrated the level of the public support 641 Nevertheless, about above 50 percent. 126,000 citizens opposed to making a decision on such an important matter based simply on the public opinion polls and signed a petition
Veronika Reškovic: “Eurosceptics: only one third of Croats for the EU”. Jutarnji list, 27 June 2008, p. 3. 639 Irena Frlan: “Croatians trust the EU more then Zagreb”. Novi list, 27 June 2008, p. 9. 640 Anita Malenica: “For the EU accession -58% of Croats”. in Vecernji list, 29 June 2008, p. 4. 641 See for instance results of the opinion poll done by GfK in February 2008, which show that 52 percent of citizens are in favour, while 27 percent against joining NATO, as quoted in “Croatia might join NATO already in 2009”. Glas Slavonije, 22 February 2008.
638

requesting a referendum. The initiative failed as the number was insufficient i.e. below minimum 5 percent of total electorate required by the Croatian constitution.

Public opinion and European integration

Cyprus

∗

(Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies)

EU support recovered in early 2008 Europeans’ support for membership in the European Union was best depicted in the Standard Eurobarometer 68, according to which 58 percent of all European citizens believe that their country’s EU membership is a good thing. 642 In the classification by country, Cyprus ranks low among the EU-27, as just 40 percent of Cypriots consider Cyprus’ EU membership as a good thing. Asked whether Cyprus has benefited, or would benefit, from its EU accession, 37 percent answer positively, far below the EU-27 average of 58 percent, whereas in the Spring 2007 Eurobarometer the figure stood at 44 percent. 643 Presidential elections affected opinion polls in late 2007 This downward trend can be attributed to the particular timing of the survey, which was conducted at a period when the campaign for the Cypriot presidential elections had commenced. 644 At that time, Cypriots also came up against a number of other profound concerns: a relative stalemate in the discussions for the resolution of the Cyprus problem; the massive illegal construction boom over Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied northern part of Cyprus; statements by Turkish President Abdullah Gül on the existence of ‘two peoples and two states on the island’; and the initiation of a ferry-boat line between Latakia, Syria and occupied Famagusta, which allowed the influx of hundreds of illegal immigrants in Cyprus. All these developments, along with the preparation period before the accession to the eurozone (something that had caused inevitable concerns) affected public
Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies. 642 Standard Eurobarometer 68, National Report Cyprus, Executive Summary, Autumn 2007, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ cy_exec.pdf (last access: 01/09/2008). 643 Ibid. 644 Analysis on the political, social and economic status of the time conducted by Nicoleta Athanasiadou.
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opinion in a negative way against decision makers in Cyprus and in Brussels as well. The Euro and the Cyprus problem reversed the trend After the smooth transition in the adoption of the Euro by Cyprus since January 2008 and the EU’s declared support for the forthcoming negotiations for the resolution of the Cyprus problem, the pessimistic trend towards the EU was reversed. The results of the Spring 2008 645 Eurobarometer indicate that Cypriots exhibit the highest level of support for the EU, as 71 percent say that they trust it. Cypriots also exhibit the highest level of support for their newly elected national government amongst the EU-27 with 69 percent. This is an increase of 20 percent compared to the Standard Eurobarometer from autumn 2007. In addition, 52 percent consider Cyprus’ membership in the EU as a good thing; a mere 15 percent think it is bad; and 58 percent of Cypriots say that they have a positive image of the EU. A significant increase of 18 percent is also recorded as the percentage of those who believe that Cyprus has overall benefited from its EU membership (55 percent). Cypriots also appear to be pro-European when it comes to decisions being taken at EU level, with the greatest support recorded for defence, 646 When asked to foreign policy and inflation. prioritise the most important issues faced by their country, Cypriots rank, in order of importance, crime, inflation and the economic situation. 647 European integration is highly appreciated in Cyprus: this is because it is perceived as a means by which the Island-state’s role and power in the international scene is enforced. 648 Belonging to the European family is a serious asset, acknowledged by not just the public opinion, but by Cypriot decision-makers, the business community and organised groups. Cypriot businesses, NGOs, organised groups, even the Church of Cyprus, are starting to develop closer ties with Brussels, first by establishing offices in the EU capital and
Standard Eurobarometer 69, National Report Cyprus, Executive Summary, Spring 2008, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_ cy_exe.pdf (last access: 01/09/2008). 646 Ibid. 647 Ibid. 648 Analysis conducted by Nicoleta Athanasiadou.
645

second by claiming community assistance in various projects. During the first half of this year, given a number of setbacks – such as the prolonged drought, the increase in the price of oil and of basic consumer products, the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease and the location of Aflatoxins in dairy products - even more affected groups resorted to the EU to ask for assistance. On the other hand, Cyprus’ EU membership has been used by authorities to explain certain adopted measures and reformed laws that come up against various public reactions. It goes without saying that opinion polls in Cyprus are also highly and immediately affected by developments in the island’s convoluted political problem and the conflicting perceptions of its resolution prospects. The EU is both perceived by public opinion and promoted by the political leadership and most political analysts as the organisation, that safeguards human rights and international 649 Therefore, any developments in the law. process for the problem’s fair resolution which seem to be instigated or cultivated by alien interests and which deviate from the European Union’s values are considered as unacceptable.

Public opinion and European integration

Czech Republic ∗
(Institute of International Relations)

Declining support for the EU The percent of the Czech population that thinks that the country’s EU membership is a good thing is steadily decreasing. In the fall 2005 this figure was 64 percent and in fall 2007 45 percent. From this perspective the Czech Republic is getting closer to the situation in the old member states than that in the other newcomers. 650 Despite this negative trend, a significant higher number (64 percent) think that the country has benefited from EU

See Costas Melakopides: The Moral Obligations of the European Union to the Republic of Cyprus, in: Costas Melakopides/Achilles Emilianides/Giorgos Kentas (eds.): The Cyprus Yearbook of International Relations 2007, Nicosia 2008, pp. 199-221. ∗ Institute of International Relations. 650 Standard Eurobarometer 68, National Report: Czech Republic, December 2007,available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ cz_nat.pdf (last access: 14 July 2008).

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membership. 651 This figure is rather stable over a longer time period and slightly higher than it was in spring 2007. 652 One explanation to these diverting views on European integration in the public opinion is probably the wide consensus among the political elite on EU membership, where even most EU critics agreed with the necessity of EU membership due to economic reasons. Therefore, EU membership was often conceived as a “marriage of convenience” rather than as a ”marriage of love especially” by the Civic Democrats. From such a perspective the EU is acceptable as long as concrete economic benefits can be obtained but further steps of integration, e.g. the Constitutional Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty etc., are viewed reluctantly while they are not believed to provide any clear cut benefits for the country. As one analyst put it: “When the Union offers something, we take it, but we are 653 not giving anything. Not anything.” There is a paradox in the fact that, among the political elite and in parliament, it is the rightist Civic Democratic Party that expresses eurosceptical opinions, for instance sending the Lisbon Treaty to the constitutional court (see question one), while their voters are the most pro European according to various opinion polls. 654

vs. 54 percent in the EU). 655 No Danish poll has been carried out in Denmark concerning the general perception of the EU in the spring of 2008. The Danish EU focus has recently been on the Danish opt-outs from European Security Defence Policy, Justice and Home Affairs, the Euro, and Union citizenship. According to a survey from “Gallup” from January 2008, there was support to abolish all three opt-outs from defence (60 percent), JHA (58 ppercent), and 656 The Danes’ positive the Euro (50 pecent). attitude of abolishing the opt-outs seemed, however, to have decreased. According to a poll by “Capacent Epinion”, the only opt-out that the Danes are presently in favour of abolishing is the defence opt-out. 657

Public opinion and European integration

Estonia ∗
(University of Tartu)

At difficult times, growing loyalty towards Europe According to a survey conducted in March 2008, 81 percent of Estonia’s residents supported membership in the EU. 658 This is one of the highest support rates since the start of regular national surveys on popular attitudes towards the EU. Support for the EU was rather low before accession, earning Estonia the title of the most eurosceptic candidate country. It increased substantially after accession and again, after the “Bronze Soldier crisis” of April/May 2007 when the relocation of a Soviet-era monument from downtown Tallinn escalated into a major crisis in EstonianRussian relations. Thus, between December 2006 and May 2007, support for the EU grew by 11 percentage points, standing at 85 percent in the immediate wake of the crisis. This increase in support can be attributed to growing insecurity in face of the perceived Russian threat. It can also be interpreted as
Standard Eurobarometer 69, First results, Spring 2008, p. 21, 28, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_ en.htm (last access: 27June 2008). 656 TNS Gallup: survey, available at: http://www.tnsgallup.dk/nyhedscenter/meningsmaalinger.aspx (last access: 27 June 2008). 657 DR.dk: Danskerne vil kun af med et EU-forbehold, 20 June 2008, available at: http://www.dr.dk/Nyheder/Politik/2008/06/20/044801.htm?r ss=true (last access: 27June 2008). ∗ University of Tartu. 658 The survey, conducted by “TNS Emor”, involved 501 residents of Estonia aged 15-74.
655

Public opinion and European integration

Denmark ∗
(Danish Institute for International Studies)

Focus on Danish opt-outs According to the latest Eurobarometer survey the percentage of the Danish population that has a positive image of the EU is in line with the EU average. The perception of the benefits of EU membership is significantly above average in Denmark (77 percent in Denmark
Standard Eurobarometer 69 First Results, June 2008, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb_69 _first_en.pdf (last access: 14 July 2008). 652 Standard Eurobarometer 67, June 2007, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb67/eb67_ en.htm (last access: 14 July 2008). 653 Petr Fishcer: Nastřelované centry na Brusel (A centre at Brussels), available at: http://hn.ihned.cz/c1-25625930nastrelovane-centry-na-brusel (last access: 14.07.2008). 654 See, e.g. Standard Eurobarometer 68, National Report: Czech Republic, December 2007, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ cz_nat.pdf (last access: 14 July 2008). ∗ Danish Institute for International Studies.
651

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endorsement of strong EU solidarity with Estonia during and after the crisis. However, there are virtually no differences in the EU evaluations of ethnic Estonians and the country’s Russian-speakers. Those with high incomes are slightly more positive about the EU than others. Given the favourable public mood, political parties have few incentives to politicise European integration or to question Estonia’s membership. Currently, European integration does not occupy a prominent place in patterns of political contestation. Many of the fears that were prominent before accession (such as loss of national identity, rising prices) have abated. Although the Estonian economy has taken a downturn after years of extremely rapid growth, the reasons for the difficulties are associated with the global and national, not the European level. The political elite has become increasingly competent in dealing with and talking about Europe. The government still has a relative monopoly over the EU-related competence, although pockets of competence exist in universities, think tanks, business associations, and civil society organizations with strong international links. The “Open Estonia Foundation” (the local “Soros organisation”) has played a key role in facilitating Europe-related debate in the society and promoting NGO involvement in these debates. Another non-governmental actor, the “European Movement”, suffered a major setback in credibility following news about misuse of funds by the executive director, leading to a criminal investigation.

EU, and so it can be stated that the amount of EU opposition has grown three years in a row, and is now at its highest ever. We can say that the polls do not correlate with the Eurobarometer results for all the EU member states: the amount of Finns who want to separate from the EU has also gone up by 10 percent during the last two years, which means that currently 29 percent of the Finns want Finland to leave the EU. At the same time, the number of people opposing leaving the Union has increased to 49 percent. Having said this, we can conclude that there will be some people who oppose the EU but at the same time they do not want Finland to secede from the EU. The reasons for the negative views can be explained by both short- and long-term changes. In the short-term, the latest challenges in the field of the Finnish EU politics may explain part of the growth in the opponents’ camp. These challenges include the article 141 of Finland’s accession treaty to the European Union, which concerns agricultural subsidies. Finland recently failed to keep the relevant subsidies and the following media attention was very vocal against the EU. In the long term, there are two major explanatory factors, firstly one reason is the ‘minor regulative stuff’ that the EU produces, i.e. norms and regulations that ‘we do not need but that we have to obey’. A typical example is the famous ‘cucumber directive’. Those are the types of directives that also get the most media coverage. 79 percent of the Finns criticise the amount of this kind of regulation. This frustration has been growing every year since 1992 (the question was not asked 1996-2003). The second factor regards the financial issues; how much money Finland gets back in exchange for its membership fees. After the 2004 enlargement, Finland has become permanently a net payer into the EU budget. During the 2000’s, the amount of criticism on this issue has increased constantly. Nowadays two thirds of Finns see the membership payments as too high. It is noteworthy that the statement “If I did not know that our country was a member in the EU, I would not notice it in any way in my everyday life” gets only 29 percent support compared to the end of 1990’s, when 60 percent of the Finns agreed so. Thus, we can conclude that the citizens have started to notice the ways the EU is affecting their everyday lives. However, the polls do not tell whether these effects are negative or positive

Public opinion and European integration

Finland ∗
(EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs)

The amount of EU opponents at its peak According to “EVA” (Finnish business and policy forum) 659 polls, 36 percent of Finns have a positive attitude towards the EU. 35 percent have a negative view of the EU membership and 27 percent feel neutral about the Finnish EU membership. These polls have been conducted since 1995 when Finland joined the
EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs. 659 Ilkka Haavisto/Pentti Kiljunen: Kenen joukoissa seisot?, th EVAn Suomi, EU ja maailma -asennetutkimus 2008, 29 of February 2008, available under: http://www.eva.fi/files/2166_kenen_joukoissa_seisot.pdf th (last access: 29 of August 2008).
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but one could assume that the biggest explanatory factor behind these figures is the common currency. Regardless of the fact that only 36 percent of Finns have a positive attitude towards the EU, people are still interested in EU affairs. 65 percent of Finns say that they are interested in the EU affairs that concern Finland and follow them regularly. However, the ‘very interested’ response receives only 10 percent of the total amount. At the same time, the majority of Finns state that the “EU is too complicate and distant for one to understand it”. To conclude, we can say that people are interested to know more about the EU but at the same time they feel incapable of understanding it because it is 660 so complicated.

more integration is necessary), tax and social policies (72 percent), immigration policy (62 percent) and defence (78 percent). In the meantime, other newspapers are less optimistic concerning the French and European relationship. “French still doubt about Europe”, says the catholic newspaper “La Croix”. 662 And according to the right-wing newspaper “Le Figaro”, “French people are pessimistic about Europe”. 663 “La Croix” bases its analysis on different figures: it underlines the fact that 43 percent of the people think that the country does not take advantage of its membership in the EU, while only 29 percent think the opposite. “Le Figaro” argues that only 48 percent of French people think that being part of the European Union is a good thing for the country. The globalisation process appears as an interesting example to illustrate the relation of French people to the EU. According to the opinion poll commissioned by “Le Figaro” from “OpinionWay”, 82 percent of French people think the EU should protect Europeans from globalisation. However there are only 24 percent 664 Thus, who think that it actually does this job. the conclusion for those two newspapers is that the French are still strongly attached to the EU, but they are not confident about the economic benefits that this membership can bring. Perception of the EU varies from one social group to another Among political actors, the traditional division between anti- and pro-European attitudes remains relevant. Even within the government, positions are balanced towards European integration. The ‘special counsellor’ to Nicolas Sarkozy, Henri Guaino, often described as a souverainist or a eurosceptic, has a rather critical opinion of EU monetary and competition policy. On the other hand, the State Secretary for European Affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, is known as a Europhile, who reassures European partners. For instance, this was the case with the Mediterranean Union 665 project. More generally, if the majority of political elites are rather supportive towards the EU, eurosceptic or ‘eurocritic’ political forces are still vigorous. This includes right-wing politicians like Nicolas DupontAignan or the “Mouvement pour la France” (Philippe De Villiers) who fear a dilution of nation
La Croix: Les Français doutent toujours de l’Europe, 25/06/2008. 663 Le Figaro: Profond pessimisme des français face à l’Europe, 25/06/2008. 664 Le Figaro, 05/07/2008. 665 Challenges, 19/06/2008.
662

Public opinion and European integration

France ∗
(Centre européen de Sciences Po)

A balanced support for the EU General overview of French public opinion. An unclear picture French media and polling institutes were especially prolific during the month of June, releasing various studies about French opinion on European integration. After the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty, and a couple of days before France took the EU-presidency, a lot of different questions were asked about French people and Europe, but the answers are not very clear, sometimes even contradictory. According to the Eurobarometer 68 (Autumn 2007), support for membership of the EU is at its highest level in over a decade. This trend has been confirmed by national opinion polls. According to a poll published in the Newspaper “Liberation” at the end of June, “French people are 661 The article stresses the attached to Europe”. fact that, despite the results of the 2005 referendum, French people are still in favour of further European integration, and even of more European intervention in their daily lives: intervention on oil prices, poverty and unemployment, for instance. “As if it were a State”, the newspaper concludes. Further integration is seen as crucial for specific policies, especially the environment (93 percent think that
Ibid. Centre européen de Sciences Po. Libération: Les Français attachés à l’Europe, 25/06/2008.
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states within the EU. It also includes left-wing political movements (“Fondation Copernic”, “Attac”, etc.,) and parties (Communist Party LCR 666), which have been particularly active during the 2005 campaign. They remain sceptical towards European integration mostly because they perceive it to be a Trojan horse for globalisation and liberalisation. These actors strongly criticise the media’s attitude, especially since the campaign of 2005 for the Constitutional Treaty. Their criticisms are based on the analysis of associations or observatories like “Acrimed” or the “Observatoire français des Medias”, who accuse French editorial writers and newspapers of covering European issues without objectivity. According to “Acrimed”, the media were quasi-unanimous about the Lisbon Treaty. They went on about the crisis caused by the referendum in 2005; they opposed the use of a new referendum in France; they privileged the positive aspects of the new 667 treaty. Thus, media and political elites are often accused of monopolising the debate about European integration, creating frustration among citizens. Others groups are quite critical of the European Union, but from a professional perspective, because of the way the EU regulates their activity. Recently, fishermen joined other traditional eurosceptic groups like hunters. They reproach the EU for blocking state aid aimed at supporting their activity being hit by higher fuel prices. A few days later, a specific category, bluefin tuna fishermen, severely criticised Brussels’ decision to ban bluefin tuna fishing for the rest of the year, arguing the 2008 quota already is exhausted. In such cases, the EU is often accused of being unaware of local realities. The business community is conversely supportive of the EU. According to an opinion poll commissioned by “General Confederation of Small and MediumSized Enterprises” (CGPME) from “IPSOS”, small and medium sized enterprise directors remain 668 very optimistic about European integration. Even if they consider that they do not have enough information about the European Union’s activities, 72 percent of them think that this process is an asset for their company.
Ligue communiste révolutionnaire. Acrimed: Quand la plupart des éditorialistes adoptent – sans référendum – le nouveau traité européen, 22/10/2007, available under: http://www.acrimed.org/article2739.html (last access: 29/08/2008). 668 General Confederation of Small and Medium sized Enterprises. See the results of the opinion poll (May 2006) under: http://www.cgpme.fr/documents/rapporteurope.pdf (last access: 29/08/2008).
667 666

Public opinion and European integration

Germany ∗
(Institute for European Politics)

Permissive indifference in Germany According to the autumn 2007 Eurobarometer results two thirds of Germans regard EU membership positively. 669 Despite a sharp decline of approval in the spring 2008 survey (7 points down to 60 percent) the support for membership remains well above the EU average in Germany. 670 However, European integration is a low priority issue for most Germans. Especially among younger people there is a high degree of indifference: According to a survey by the “Allensbach Institute” from May 2008 75 percent of the 1629 year old respondents answered that they were not interested in decisions taken in Brussels or by the European Parliament while only 25 percent are interested. Interest is highest in the group of the over 60 year old, but even among them a majority of 59 percent 671 These is not interested while 41 percent is. figures can probably be explained by the fact that more than 50 years after the signing of the Rome Treaties most Germans consider European integration as a matter of course. As the project of an ever closer union steadily progressed over the last decades, Germans became increasingly cautious on the prospect of further integration. While in the 1980s only a small minority considered the process of European unification as too fast this trend reversed since the 1990s with now 35 per cent thinking that the speed of European unification should slow down while only 12 percent want 672 The liberal the pace to be accelerated. economic policy of the European Commission is partly seen as serving only the interest of business at the expense of ordinary citizens and the national welfare systems. 673 Also, the alleged excessive bureaucracy and the
Institute for European Politics. Standard Eurobarometer 68, National Report: Germany, December 2007, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ de_nat.pdf (last access: 11 August 2008). 670 Standard Eurobarometer 69, First Results, June 2008, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb_69 _first_en.pdf (last access: 11 August 2008). 671 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Der Kampf Europas mit der Gleichgültigkeit, 21 May 2008, p. 5. 672 Ibid. 673 Cf. Institut für Europäische Politik (ed.): EU-25 Watch, No. 3, July 2006, Berlin, pp. 69-72, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-25_Watch-No3.pdf (last access: 11 August 2008).
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perceived lack of democracy in the EU is nowadays a reoccurring source of criticism. However, most of the criticism goes against certain aspects of European policies but not against the idea of European integration itself. Even when asked on such sensitive policy areas such as fighting crime, foreign policy, taxation policy, immigration and asylum policy or education policy the majority of respondents favours common rules and joint actions on the European level. 674 Furthermore, according to a poll conducted shortly after the failed Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, 54 percent of Germans would have voted in favour of the treaty. 675 Altogether the attitude of the population in Germany towards European integration may thus be described as ‘permissive indifference’. While there is no significant real anti-European party in the political landscape Germany’s second largest opposition party, the newly founded left-wing “Die Linke” is strongly rejecting the current economic model of the EU. Claiming that “the European social states are to be destroyed” 676 and a militarized Europe was to be established 677 it was the only party in the German parliament (“Bundestag”) that rejected the Lisbon Treaty. However, even “Die Linke” is not against European integration in principle. With its strong criticism of the current EU “Die Linke” is quite an anomaly in the party system as all the other mainstream parties have a “distinctly pro-European attitude and support the current model of the EU” 678. As the German industry largely benefits from the European single market 679 German
674

business leaders continue to be fierce supporters of European integration. They are putting their emphasis on the free-market dimension of the EU while at times criticising the European Commission for its exceeding regulation attempts as, for instance, in the case of anti-discrimination rules. 680 The failed Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is considered as a backlash but not as a disaster, since the functioning of the single market is hardly affected by the outcome. 681 However, there is some concern among business leaders that the EU’s position in future external trade negotiations might be weakened without the Lisbon Treaty especially in the relations with the US and Asia. 682 Furthermore, a permanent stall of the integration process, the rise of national protectionism within the EU and a re-nationalisation of policies is seen as a potential threat for the German economy. 683 The labour unions also support European integration. They see the EU as a central instrument for shaping globalisation and demand Europe’s social dimension to be strengthened. Hence, recent decisions of the European Court of Justice considered to undermine union contracts and employment rights drew strong criticism. Germany’s largest labour union, Ver.di, complained that a social and democratic Europe had been a vision, while a Europe of unlimited economic 684 freedoms has become reality.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Der Kampf Europas mit der Gleichgültigkeit, 21 May 2008, p. 5. 675 Emnid poll for N24 of 17 June 2008, source: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/deutschland/artikel/886/1813 27/ (last access: 11 August 2008). 676 “Die Linke” parliamentary leader Gregor Gysi quoted in: Das Parlament, No. 26/2006: Debattendokumentation. Regierungserklärung zum Europäischen Rat in Brüssel / 169. Sitzung des 16. Deutschen Bundestages am 19. Juni 2008, p. 4. 677 Cf. “Die Linke”: Der Lissabonner Vertrag: Rückgrat für die forcierte Militarisierung der Europäischen Union, press release, 24 April 2008, available under: http://www.dielinke.de/index.php?id=251&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=1738&tx_tt news[backPid]=35&no_cache=1 (last access: 11 August 2008). 678 Institut für Europäische Politik (ed.): EU-25 Watch, No. 3, July 2006, Berlin, p 70, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-25_Watch-No3.pdf (last access: 11 August 2008). 679 According to the “Federation of German Industries” (BDI) 60 percent of German trade is conducted with other EU countries. Cf. http://www.bdi-

online.de/de/fachabteilungen/7858.htm (last access 11 August 2008). 680 Cf. Confederation of German Employers’ Associations: Arbeitgeberpräsident Dr. Dieter Hundt lehnt neue Regulierungspläne der EU-Kommission ab, press release, 2 July 2008, available under: http://www.bdaonline.de/www/bdaonline.nsf/id/64BEA998745A565FC125 747A0045D68F?Open&ccm=300160000&L=DE (last access: 11 August 2008). 681 Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag: Europas Sommer der Entscheidungen, Newsletter 25, 26 June 2008, available under: http://www.dihk.de/download.php?dload=http://www.dihk.d e/root/inhalt/informationen/news/wochenthema/26062008. pdf (last access: 11. August 2008). 682 Süddeutsche Zeitung: Wirtschaft fürchtet um globale Wettbewerbskraft, 20 June 2008, p. 26. 683 Süddeutsche Zeitung: Lustlos in Europa, 9 July 2008, also available under: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/ausland/artikel/454/184874/ (last access: 11 August 2008). 684 Cf. Europa ja. Aber nicht so!, in: ver.di publik, 5/2008, available under: http://publik.verdi.de/2008/ausgabe_05/gewerkschaft/.titel/ seite_1/A1 (last access: 9 September 2008).

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Public opinion and European integration

Public opinion and European integration

Greece ∗
(Greek Centre of European Studies and Research)

Hungary ∗
(Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

Greeks generally support European integration Greek public opinion remains widely supportive of European integration and both the media and the political system reflect this situation. Still, European topics are not in the forefront of public discourse, unless ‘something special happens’. But then, emotions tend to run high. Thus, when the Irish referendum messed up the Reform Treaty ratification process, a major ‘center-left’ sunday newspaper (“TO VIMA”) editorialised, linking the row within the Socialists (“PASOK”) as to whether Greek ratification should proceed through the parliament or by referendum with the “impossibility to conceive Greece as non685 participating (in the future) in the EU”. While another ‘center-right’ sunday newspaper (“ELEFTHEROS TYPOS”) organised a debate with the interesting title: “Why more and more people long for a EU-15”. 686 It is also worthy of note that the Reform Treaty was ratified in parliament by a large majority, since only the Greek Communist Party and the Alliance of Radical Left (“Synaspismos”) voted against – the latter demanding that the treaty be brought to a referendum. The Socialists (“PASOK”) voted in favour of the treaty, notwithstanding their leadership’s squabble over ratification by referendum, epitomised by the rift between the party’s president, George A. Papandreou, and his predecessor, the former Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The ‘right-wing’ government party “Nea Democratia” did so, too. In general though, the parliamentary debate on the Lisbon Treaty only gave rise to party-politics games, exactly the way it did in the parliamentary debate on the 687 Constitutional Treaty.

Positive perception of EU membership rather low Given the fact that the most detailed regular opinion polls on European issues are conducted by Hungarian polling institutes commissioned by Eurobarometer, it is worth citing the results of the Hungarian contribution to Standard Eurobarometer 68 done in autumn 2007 and published at the end of the same year. 688 According to the results, Hungary is unfortunately an exception to the ’rule’ mentioned in the question, since here the positive perception of EU membership was one of the lowest among the member states with a rate of 40 percent – which was well bellow the EU average of 58 percent. This indicator has actually never crossed 50 percent – it has been moving between 39 percent and 49 percent since accession. It must also be underlined that practically the same share (lately 41 percent) was rather neutral vis-à-vis membership and only 17 percent gave a negative judgement of it (this rate has been moving between 10 percent and 19 percent since accession). At the same time, in terms of trust, Hungarians positioned the EU institutions first in the rank of different institutions: 60 percent trust the EU, followed by the army (50 percent), the police, justice and churches (between 49 percent and 43 percent) and finally the trade unions, the government, the parliament and the political parties (going from 23 percent to 8 percent). If we take a closer look at the supporters of EU membership from the point of view of political affiliation, it seems that the socialist oriented citizens are more supportive than the conservative oriented citizens. Furthermore, a positive assessment of EU membership is mainly typical among the younger generations and among those with higher education (while
∗

Greek Centre of European Studies and Research. See the newspaper TO VIMA, 15 June 2008. 686 See the newspaper ELEFTHEROS TYPOS, 15 June 2008. 687 See the speeches of all the party leaders and the debate in Greek Parliament’s Minutes of 12 June 2008.
685

∗

Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. 688 Standard Eurobarometer 68, Executive Summary National Report Hungary, Autumn 2007, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ hu_exec.pdf (last access: 28 August 2008); Standard Eurobarometer 69, National Report Hungary, Spring 2008, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_ hu_nat.pdf (last access: 28 August 2008). Here the positive assessment of EU membership by Hungarians is the lowest since ever: 32 percent. page 140 of 293

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only one third of the eldest and the least trained would be supportive). Regarding knowledge of the EU, only 12 percent of the respondents thought Hungarians have sufficient knowledge about European integration matters (not far from the 18 percent EU average). At the same time around half of the respondents thought the amount of EU related information provided by the press, the radio and TV was satisfactory, while nearly 70 percent of those who had internet-access said EU information was sufficiently present. In fact, information is of key importance. Last autumn “Szonda Ipsos”, a Hungarian polling 689 They institute, organised an ‘experiment’. invited 200 people to the parliament for a oneday event. The participants have already been asked about EU membership one month before, but now they could participate in an exchange of views about the EU with experts. After these discussions the positive assessment of EU membership grew from 46 percent to 60 percent, and 80 percent thought Hungary enjoys greater possibilities of representing national interests as a member of the Union – against the earlier 59 percent. Furthermore, 50 percent were of the view that EU membership brought about benefits for them personally as well as for their families – while this rate was only 33 percent before the discussion. The results of this ‘pilot project’ can actually serve as a good lesson for Hungary, all the other member states and the EU institutions too. In fact, support for EU membership seems to depend on at least two factors: on the level of knowledge of the citizens and on the actual (political, economic and social) performance of the given country. In Hungary both factors have been problematic ever since accession: information campaigns had been much stronger prior to entry, while in the last four years living standards in Hungary have hardly improved, even though catching up to EU average has of course been one of the main motivations of joining.

Public opinion and European integration

Ireland ∗
(Institute of International and European Affairs)

Paradoxical support: pro-Europeans stop the Reform Treaty Support for EU membership At one level of analysis, the answer is a somewhat paradoxical ‘Yes’; paradoxical in the sense that the recent post-poll data from the Lisbon Treaty referendum showed that 82 percent of voters described themselves as “pro-Europe” (the highest level in the EU), while at the same time 54 percent actually voted against the treaty. 690 This outcome is currently being analysed in more detail, but there are clear indications that much of the stated pro-European stance is passive at best, and somewhat ambiguous. For example, a poll 1,000 respondents when asked in 2001, whether Ireland should “do all it can to fully unite with the EU”, 46 percent said ‘Yes’, 41 percent said ‘No’, with 13 percent 691 having no opinion. By May 2008, 43 percent said ‘Yes’, 38 percent said ‘No’, with 18 percent having no opinion. 692 Post-Lisbon Treaty referendum, we can safely predict that this ‘No’ figure has hardened, due to much of the ‘no opinion’ group moving towards the ‘No’ side. Perception of EU by elites, media, business community, citizens or pressure groups In the recent referendum, 96 percent of Ireland’s parliamentary representatives were pro-Lisbon based on those members of the lower and upper parliamentary chambers who called for a ‘Yes’ vote during the Irish referendum campaign. Regarding media, however, the landscape has been increasingly colonised by a UK informed euro-scepticism. While the business community is largely proEU, it was striking during the recent referendum how many prominent people in the
∗

FigyelőNet, available under: http://www.fn.hu/kulfold/20071018/jobban_orulunk_eu_tag sagunknak/ (last access: 28 August 2008).

689

Institute of International and European Affairs. TNS/MRBI opinion poll. Ibid. 692 Ibid.
690 691

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business community supported the eurosceptic “Libertas” 693 line. Regarding citizen/pressure groups, there is an array of anti-EU organisations across the ‘leftright’ spectrum, ranging from radical Socialists to Catholic fundamentalists. Issues range from neutrality/militarism at one extreme to abortion/family values at the other. Common to all are underlying issues about identity and the importance of an independent Irish foreign policy.

weakness factor. On the other hand, polls reveal that Europe is seen as an effective ‘shield’ against globalization, which is considered more of a kind of threat that an opportunity in Italy. 697 Italians’ mistrust of European institutions is mostly due to the widespread confusion regarding the way these institutions work. Apart from the European Parliament and the European Central Bank, knowledge of other institutions is lower than in other member states. Significant percentages of Italians are completely unaware of the existence of some European institutions, such as the European Council (34 percent), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) (46 percent), the European Court of Auditors (48 percent), the Economic and Social Committee (64 percent), the Committee of the Regions (68 percent) and the European 698 Ombudsman (69 percent). Notwithstanding this, according to a poll conducted by the Department for Communitarian Policies of the Prime Minister Office, 50.7 percent of Italians perceive themselves as well informed on the European Union. Only a few of them (24 percent) have approached the offices in Italy in charge of releasing information on the EU (CIDE – Interdepartmental Centre of European Documentation), while the main source of information on the EU is television and more frequently the press or the internet. However, a considerable part of the Italian population still considers itself not informed enough (38.5 percent) or even not at all (2.2 percent) of the 699 European Union’s objectives and activities. Things change when we look at to what extent Italians are aware of the advantages of being part of the European Union. This was revealed by the data collected by the Department for Communitarian Policies by means of a questionnaire entitled “Are you ready for Europe?”. When asked whether they thought that Italy had gained any advantage from its participation in the EU, 73.2 percent of interviewees answered positively. In particular, Italians declared that the advantages they benefited from the most are freedom of
Ibid. Standard Eurobarometer 68, National Report Italy, Autumn 2007, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ th it_nat.pdf (last access: 28 of August 2008). 699 Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, Dipartimento per le Politiche Comunitarie. See: http://www.politichecomunitarie.it/newsletter/15798/sondag th gio-sulleuropa-i-risultati (last access: 28 of August 2008).
698 697

Public opinion and European integration

Italy

∗

(Istituto Affari Internazionali)

The EU – a ‘team of sick players’ Taking into consideration Italian opinion polls, it is not possible to say that support for membership of the European Union is as high as in other member states. On the contrary, trust and belief in European institutions have decreased slightly. Today, 55 percent of Italians have a positive opinion of the EU, while a few months ago that figure was 58 percent; simultaneously the percentage of Italians that perceive Europe in a negative way has 694 increased from 8 percent to 10 percent. Italians’ mistrust of European institutions is probably the most striking feature of recent surveys. Only 26 percent (compared to a European average of 42 percent) of people in Italy declared that they trust European institutions. 695 There are several explanations for this phenomenon. First, as far as it can be deduced from the national press, Italians are feeling the pressure and difficulties of economic decline. 696 Nonetheless, surprisingly enough, Europe is perceived in this field as both a cause and a solution to the problem. On the one hand, debates over the European single currency show that membership in the European Union and particularly in the European Economic and Monetary Union is sometimes considered a
“Libertas” is a campaigning group of the ‘No’ camp. Istituto Affari Internazionali. Standard Eurobarometer 68, Executive Summary National Report Italy, Autumn 2007, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ th it_exec.pdf (last access: 28 of August 2008). 695 th Il sole 24 ore, 25 of June 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IIIA1 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 696 Ibid.
∗ 694 693

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movement and programmes addressed to young people such as “Erasmus”. They also consider peace among member states as a positive result of EU membership. The conclusion that can be drawn from this data is that people in Italy are still behind other European citizens concerning knowledge of the EU’s institutions and activities. It is interesting to note that Italians perceive the advantages that directly affect them deriving from EU membership, while they are confused and misinformed about the European Union’s functioning at the institutional level. From the media point of view, Italian citizens’ mistrust of European institutions could be explained by observing it from a wider perspective. Especially after the Irish ‘No”’ to the Lisbon Treaty, there have been many unfavourable remarks in Italian newspapers on the current situation. European political elites have been accused of having preferred national interests to intra-European links. It has been argued that “if we compare the current situation to that of some decades ago, the progressive slackening of mutual contacts between the European political classes is 700 striking” ; and it is even more surprising when considered that in the last years the opportunities for open dialogue have increased. 701 For these reasons, when speaking about European integration in Italian debates, people think of a “far away Europe” 702 and are much more interested in internal and national issues. The EU has even been metaphorically defined as a ‘team of sick players’, whose performances will not easily be improved by its new ‘trainer’ Sarkozy. 703 Notwithstanding these critical opinions, some positive remarks have been made about EU institutions and the possibility of Italy playing an important role in them. In particular, the ECJ is seen as an institution that acts independently from national pressures. 704
La Stampa: Lontana Europa, 3 July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=ILA2E (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 701 Ibid. 702 Ibid. 703 Il Giornale: L’Europa? Una squadra di giocatori malati st che frenerà Sarkozy, 1 of July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IKH7U (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 704 th Il sole 24 ore: A Lussemburgo c’è un Italia forte, 30 of June 2008, available under: http://www.ilsole24ore.com/ th (last access: 28 of August 2008).
700 rd

According to part of the Italian business community, the current European crisis can be explained by the insufficient budget at the EU’s disposal. It has been argued that there is no correspondence between European Union’s economic resources and its political ambitions. However, economist and former European Commissioner Mario Monti has recently asserted that at present a change in the EU’s priorities does not seem feasible and for the time being no final solution to the problem can 705 be found. Today, a large part of the economic debate on European integration concerns the opportunities that the single European market can offer to counterbalance pressures coming from the Chinese and Indian emerging economies. Corrado Passera, managing director of “Banca Intesa Sanpaolo”, said that it is necessary to compete more as a united Europe in order to be able to overcome 706 economic crises that may arise. Notwithstanding the assertion made at the European Council in Brussels in June by Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi on the role of EU commissioners, 707 Italian political elites are undoubtedly in favour of the EU. José Manuel Barroso, who was recently in Italy, has affirmed: “There is great collaboration between the European Commission and Italian In this atmosphere of authorities” 708. cooperation, the president of the lower house of the Italian parliament (“Camera dei deputati”), Gianfranco Fini, stated that the Italian Parliament would ratify the Lisbon Treaty before the end of the summer, because otherwise the EU - 27 will be ‘ungovernable’. 709

Corriere della Sera: Frodi e sprechi: I piani per rifare il rd bilancio UE, 23 of June 2008, available under. th www.corriere.it (last access: 28 of August 2008). 706 th Il Giornale: Così gli economisti vedono il futuro, 13 of July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IOPB1 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 707 La Repubblica: Berlusconi striglia la UE. Serve un th ‘drizzone’ o fallirà, 20 of June 2008, available under: http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/20 08/06/20/berlusconi-striglia-la-ue-serve-un-drizzone.html th (last access: 28 of August 2008). 708 th Il Secolo d‘Italia, 16 of July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IPMVG (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 709 th Il sole 24 ore: Sì al trattato entro l’estate, 16 of July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IPRBM (last th access: 28 of August 2008).

705

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Public opinion and European integration

Latvia ∗
(Latvian Institute of International Affairs)

Public opinion and European integration in Latvia Although the Eurobarometer 68 concluded that in autumn 2007 support for membership of EU in the member states was at it highest in over a decade, such a broad conclusion is not entirely appropriate for Latvia. The table below summarises public opinion regarding EU in recent months. Latvia’s Residents Respond to the Question: In general, do you think that Latvia’s membership of the EU is a … Time of Selected response as percent of poll total responses of all respondents Neither Good good Bad Don’t thing nor thing know bad October 26 47 22 5 2007 November 28 43 25 4 2007 December 30 45 22 3 2007 January 31 43 22 4 2008 February 25 45 26 4 2008 March 22 47 28 3 2008 April 33 41 21 5 2008 May 24 40 29 7 2008 June 26 42 26 6 2008 July 22 48 24 6 2008 Source: European Union Information Agency in Latvia, available under: http://www.esia.gov.lv/lat/sdp/ (last access: 10 September 2008). Owing to the lack of additional polling and analyses, it is not possible to explain authoritatively the vacillations in public opinion. It does seem, however, that in responding to the principal question about the EU, the people of Latvia tend to reflect their own personal situation and their perception of the current
∗

situation in Latvia. There is, however, no research to support or dispute such a correlation. It is, therefore, not possible to provide here a more detailed picture of how the EU and European integration are perceived by political elites, media, business community, citizens or pressure groups in Latvia.

Public opinion and European integration

Lithuania ∗
(Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University)

A big and stable support for the membership in the EU According to the Standard Eurobarometer No. 68, 81percent of Lithuanians thought that Lithuania’s membership in the European Union was useful for the country, while only 10 percent of the inhabitants held the opposite opinion. 710 As the Standard Eurobarometer No. 69 reveals, the Lithuanian support for the membership has fallen by several percentage points – now 75 percent of Lithuanians say that membership in the EU is beneficial for Lithuania. 711 Still, the majority of Lithuanians are convinced that our membership in the EU has a positive impact on all fields of life except for inflation and taxes. The latest national survey, completed by the opinion poll agency “Vilmorus” in June of 2008 reveals that 72 percent of Lithuania’s inhabitants support the membership in the EU and 16 percent are against it. According to this survey, a high level of support is characteristic of all demographic groups. Such a high level of support is stable and is not changing over 712 time.

Latvian Institute of International Affairs.

Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University. 710 Standard Eurobarometer No. 68, National Report Lithuania, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ th lt_nat.pdf (last access: August 28 , 2008). 711 Standard Eurobarometer No. 69, National Report Lithuania, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_ th lt_nat.pdf (last access: August 28 , 2008). 712 Visuomenės nuomonės tyrimas: Lietuva Europos Sąjungoje, informacija apie Vyriausybės darbą, Lietuvos įvaizdis (Public opinion poll: Lithuania in the European Union, information about the work of the Government, Lithuanian image), press release of Lithuanian th Government, July 4 , 2008, available under. http://www.euro.lt/lt/naujienos/apie-lietuvos-narysteeuropos-sajungoje/naujienos/3767/ (last access: August th 28 , 2008).

∗

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Expectations and results of membership Before the Lithuanian accession to the European Union, a referendum was held. More than 63 percent of Lithuanian citizens participated in the referendum (this is high attendance compared to national elections) and more than 90 percent of them voted for Lithuania’s accession to the European Union. It was said that Lithuanians were so enthusiastic about membership in the EU because they had many hopes and expectations related to the EU. Political scientists report that today the support for the EU remains so high because people already see the results our membership brings to Lithuania. At the time of the Lithuanian accession to the EU farmers and retired people were more sceptical about membership than other groups of society. Nevertheless, today the farmers, having profited from the EU financial support, are one of the biggest supporters of the EU. To sum up, there is a general consensus both among the political elite and the people about the advantages of EU integration and there is no prominent or strong opposition against the EU in Lithuania.

socialist colleagues, blames the inflation and the dwindling confidence in the performance of the national economy. 715 EU-scepticism is also expanding in Luxembourg; the grand duchy just goes along the same path as the other Luxembourg people member states. 716 continue to appreciate the membership of their country in the EU, so it is therefore not astonishing that Luxembourgers’ confidence in the EU equals their confidence in their national government. Like their Prime Minister, Luxembourgers have realised the positive role the EU could play in the global economic competition. The editorialist of the German weekly “Die Zeit”, comparing the EU to Luxembourg, and Luxembourgers are more aware than ever that the European project is needed to give European nations a chance in a globalised world. Juncker, whose rhetorical qualities are rarely denied has abandoned his funding myth discourse (“French-German reconciliation on the graves of dead soldiers made European unification possible”) and has switched over to the paramount importance of a united Europe in a globalized world, especially when he considers the ever more shrinking part of Europe’s share in the world population and 717 economy. The historian and political analyst Michel Pauly feels that European integration is perceived by more and more Luxembourg citizens as a rush towards a free trade area whereas the European social union is less and less visible. 718 This is not a mere communication problem. 719 The general feeling that the European Union might be a protection filter against the unsocial consequences of globalisation vanishes. Luxembourg’s people feel that EU is co-responsible for the globalisation of the markets, poverty, climate change and the loss of social rights. According to Michel Pauly the political debate on these European policy subjects, as it occurred in the referendum campaign in 2005, has been aborted in Luxembourg because the
Laurent Zeiment: Sorge um Kaufkraft, Luxemburger Wort, 27.6.2008. 716 Olivier Wagner: Bréckelnde Mehrheiten, Zeitung vum letzebuerger Vollek, 3.7.2008. 717 Jan Ross: Wir Luxemburger, Die Zeit, 19.6.2008; RTL Letzebuerg: Interview with Jean-Claude Juncker,12.7.2008. 718 Forum: Michel Pauly Danke Irland!, Juli 2008. 719 RTL Letzebuerg online: carte blanche. Jacques Drescher. Europapolitik: D’Leit hu scho laang verstaan, 9.7.2008, available under: www.rtl.lu (last access: 28.8.2008).
715

Public opinion and European integration

Luxembourg ∗
(Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman)

Importance of a united Europe in a globalised world For a long time, Luxembourg’s public opinion has strongly supported the country’s membership in the European Union. Luxembourg was once the strongest supporter of the integration process. 713 The editorialist of the only Luxembourg communist newspaper cannot hide his personal rejoicing over the poor showings of EU in last Eurobarometer. In Luxembourg, “one of the most EU-friendliest nations”, the editorialist must concede, the level shrank from 82 to 73 percent. 714 The other newspapers and observers sincerely regret the unpopularity of the European integration right now. They try to explain, why European integration has become so unpopular: Laurent Zeimet, a ChristianDemocrat commentator, like his liberal and
Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman. Journal: Luxemburger gut informiert, 6.3.2008. 714 Zeitung vum letzebuerger Vollek: EU-Ablehnung wächst, 5.7.2008.
713 ∗

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CSV 720 leaders refuse to separate national and European election days. 721 Socialist and Christian-Democrat unions tend to be more and more critical about the way European integration follows. The leader of the largest Luxembourg union the OGB-L 722 (socialist) Jean-Claude Reding expresses his feelings as follows: ”I would refuse to sign an appeal to vote ‘Yes’ if a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would take place in Luxembourg today” 723.

2009, in line with the EU’s policy of not subsidizing ports from government coffers.

Public opinion and European integration

Netherlands ∗
(Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’)

EU: Large support, mediocre knowledge Eurobarometer results have shown that about three-quarters of the Dutch population regards EU membership positively, 724 which is high above the EU average. It should be noted that those 8 percent of the Dutch who are reluctant towards the EU, generally also tend to hold a rather negative stance towards Dutch politics and society. 725 In comparison with other member states, Dutch knowledge of the EU is mediocre, which is interesting as the threatening image of the EU as a complex organisation was one of the explanations of the Dutch ‘No’ against the Constitutional Treaty in June 2005. The lack of insight into how the EU works could be explained by earlier findings that EU news coverage is relatively light in the Netherlands and is mostly focused on procedures, instead of policy contents. 726 Education and politicisation to increase EU awareness Providing more education on the EU is one objective of the government’s new EU communication strategy that has seen the light in December 2007. As part of a general EU awareness campaign hosted by the representation of the European Commission in the Netherlands and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April, some 350 Dutch civil servants working for the European institutions and MEPs gave EU lessons at their former secondary schools. Moreover, the objective to treat EU issues more politically has been taken up by many political parties and experts. This would increase contestation and thereby the legitimacy of EU policies, as has been argued
Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’. Standard Eurobarometer 68, National Report The Netherlands, Autumn 2007, p. 22, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ nl_nat.pdf (last access: 26 August 2008). 725 See SCP/CPB Market place Europe, The Hague 2008. 726 Claes H. de Vreese: ‘Europe’ in the news, a crossnational comparative study of the news coverage of key EU events, in: European Union Politics, vol. 2 3/2001, p 283-307.
724 ∗

Public opinion and European integration

Malta

∗

(Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta)

EU membership is regarded as positive There is a general consensus in Malta that EU integration is a positive development and that membership since 2004 has been a relatively positive one. This is based on the fact that EU integration has provided stability and prosperity to all member states and improved the outlook for member states that have been successful in implementing the acquis communitaire. An example of this is that of adoption of the Euro that has brought further stability to the economic and financial sector of those states that are making use of it. The majority of sectors highlighted believe that EU membership is facilitating implementation of a more liberal political and economic reform process than otherwise would have been possible. The pro-growth economic strategy of the EU, including that of the Euro’s stability plus the open market policy offering more of a selection to consumers at different prices are highly regarded as positive outcomes that have been achieved as a result of EU membership. Two minor sectors that do not perceive EU membership as positive are those of bird hunters and port workers. The bird hunters are disappointed that the EU decided to enforce the prohibition of bird hunting in spring and the majority of port workers did not welcome the government of Malta’s decision to completely privatize the dry docks of Malta by January

720 721

Chrëschtlech Sozial Vollékspartei. Forum: Michel Pauly Danke Irland!, Juli 2008. 722 Onofhängige Gewerkschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg. 723 Woxx: Recherche social désespérément, 27.6.2008. ∗ Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta.

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by a number of advisory reports to the government. One key element in this respect that is often highlighted in The Hague is a stronger role for national parliaments. This issue has been elevated by the Dutch government to a make or break issue during last year’s negotiations on the Lisbon Treaty. In April, two Dutch MPs used the COSAC 727 meeting to promote the resulting ‘orange card mechanism’ as a chance for parliamentarians to pro-actively shape upcoming EU legislation. 728 In their proposal, a group of MPs under COSAC should meet every two months to examine legislative proposals to see if they overstepped EU bounds.

accession. The study prepared by the Office of the Committee for European Integration 730 presents the generally growing figure (with certain fluctuations) of support for membership observed between 2005 and 2008, with support figures never falling below 58 percent, what is presented in the graph below.

Public opinion and European integration

Poland

∗

(Foundation for European Studies - European Institute)

European benefits assure high levels of EUsupport Compared to 58 percent as the EU-27 average support for membership in the union observed in autumn edition of Standard Eurobarometer, 729 Poland ranks highly among the countries with the largest support rates (71 percent), and among the countries with the highest results regarding the benefits of membership for the respondents’ home country (83 percent). The support rates, despite some fall as reflected in new 69th edition of Eurobarometer (65percent of Poles supporting membership and 77 percent positively assessing benefits of membership), still remain high and find general support in national opinion polls as well as perception of experts, politicians and business communities. Even though the 2008 results are slightly lower than those of the 68th edition, they still remain higher by far than the Union’s average. A good occasion for conducting new opinion polls and comparisons with previous surveys was the fourth anniversary of Poland’s
Conférence des Organes Spécialisés dans les Affaires Communautaires et Européennes des Parlements de l’Union européenne. 728 Leigh Phillips: MPs seek to make concerted use of new powers under EU treaty, in EU Observer, 23 April 2008. ∗ Foundation for European Studies - European Institute. 729 Standard Eurobarometer 68, Executive Summary National Report Poland, Autumn 2007, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ pl_exec.pdf (last access: 04.09.2008).
727

Pentor/GfK Polonia/SMG/KRC for DA/UKIE: 4 lata członkostwa Polski w UE. Bilans korzyści i kosztów społeczno-gospodarczych związanych z członkostwem w Unii Europejskiej (1 maja 2004 r. — 1 maja 2008 r.) (4 Years of Poland’s membership in the EU. Socio-economic benefits and costs of membership in the EU (1 May 2004-1 May 2008)).

730

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The question to investigate the support for Poland’s membership in the EU 731 was: “If on Sunday a new referendum on membership in the EU was to be held would you vote for or against accession to the EU?”

__ for (SMG/KRC – 2004, Pentor – 2005, SMG/KRC-2006, Pentor-2007, GfK-2008) __ against (SMG/KRC-2004, Pentor –2005,SMG/KRC-2006, Pentor-2007, GfK-2008 __ would not vote (SMG/KRC-2004, Pentor –2005,SMG/KRC-2006, Pentor-2007, GfK-2008) Source: Pentor/GfK Polonia/SMG/KRC for DA/UKIE. The report also presents the data for public perceptions of the benefits of membership for the country at a level of 83.6 percent, 732 while regarding support for the Lisbon Treaty, the same study found 36 percent for, 6 percent against with 56 percent of those undecided. 733 The authors of the report stress the economic benefits (accelerated growth, accompanied by significant fall of unemployment from 20 percent in 2003 down to 11 percent, 4 percent in 2007 and restructuring of the agricultural sector) linked with the use of pre-accession and structural funding. Similarly, the report by Public “Opinion Research Centre” (CBOS) published in relation to the 4th anniversary of membership the steadily growing tendency in support for membership between 2001 and 2008, with the number of opponents falling in the same period (especially staring from the date of entry to the EU):

Source: CBOS (“Public Opinion Research Centre”): Polish Public Opinion, April 2008, available under: www.cbos.pl (last access: 04.09.2008).
731 732

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According to the same report, the number of those regarding membership as bringing more benefits than costs for the country is at its highest levels ever (in April 2008) and amounts to 64 percent of ‘yes’ answers, this being four times larger than the percentage of those seeing more costs than benefits of membership (15 percent) 734. The belief that benefits outweigh the costs is more visible among the respondents with a university degree (79 percent), more prosperous respondents(79 percent) and young people, up to 24 years of age (76 percent). Among the socio-economic groups, the ones most often seeing more benefits than costs the most are: managers, white collar workers (78-79 percent) and among those not yet employed – students in all types of schools – 80 percent. 735 The report observes the correlation between results of integration and the support for integration as such and this means that Poles, while supporting integration, are more apt to link it with benefits for the country rather than the feeling of personal gains. April 2007 was the first year when benefits for Poland were perceived as outweighing the benefits for the old member states of the union (30 percent to 28 percent respectively), with a growing tendency in April 2008 (35 percent and 27 percent respectively). Regarding the positive results of membership on the Polish economy, the report presented the figure of 75 percent of respondents answering ‘rather positive’ about the impact of accession on the economy (8 percent answered ‘rather negative’). The same number of respondents hold the opinion about positive impact of accession on private farms (11 percent answered ‘rather negative’), while the opinion about the positive impact on private 736 The enterprises amounts to 64 percent. positive impact on the economy is most visible for university degree holders, white-collar workers, wealthier respondents, big city inhabitants, managers, company owners, skilled workers (all with results above 80 percent) and students and pupils (95 percent). 737 With still high opinions about the positive impact on the private agricultural sector and the economy, this perception differs among some socio-economic groups. For
CBOS (“Public Opinion Research Centre”): Polish Public Opinion, Bilans czterech lat integracji z Unią Europejską (A summary of Four Years of Poland’s Membership in the EU), Research Communiqué BS/66/2008, April 2008, p. 4, available under: www.cbos.pl (last access: 04.09.2008). 735 Ibid., p. 3. 736 Ibid., p. 9. 737 Ibid., p. 8.
734

example, only 66 percent of farmers are convinced of the benefits (against 75 percent among the whole population). The positive impact of accession on the unemployment rate is quite high (65 percent of those answering ‘a rather positive impact’) as compared to 56 percent of ‘Yes’ answers in April 2007, 738 while 56 percent of respondents are of the opinion that integration with the EU has had positive impact on living conditions. Over 60 percent of respondents in the “CBOS” poll point out the positive results of membership on the environment and 57 percent on infrastructure and state roads. The results of a similar poll conducted by “TNS OBOP” 739 in March 2008 report the number of supporters of Poland’s membership at 73 percent and opponents at 5 percent. Another poll conducted on 16th March 2008 by “PBS DGA” 740 for the daily “Gazeta Wyborcza” reports that over 80 percent are satisfied with Poland’s membership (39 percent ‘definitely yes’ and 46 percent ‘rather yes’) with only 10 percent of those dissatisfied (7 percent ‘rather not’ and 3 percent ‘definitely not’). Among the representatives of political parties in Poland the support for integration remains the same with the pro-European parties: left parties (including the the “Left Democratic Alliance”, the “Social-Democratic Party of Poland” and minor left-wing organisations), and the parties of the governing coalition. In addition, the “Civic Platform” and “Polish Peasants Party” reflected this in their program documents and current statements (including those after the failed Irish referendum). “Law and Justice”, the former governing party has a somewhat puzzling stance, taking into account the critical voices against ‘making Poland an EU province’, conditional of the party’s vote in the parliament over ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and the current postponement of the president’s countersignature under the parliamentary ratification bill. The situation is reflected also by the support for integration and assessment of membership among the potential electorates of the parties with clearly higher rates of support among pro-European parties voters than those located to the ‘right’ of the political scene. The attitudes of the media towards integration differ according to
Ibid., p. 10. TNS OBOP opinion poll of 6-10 March 2008, quoted after Polskie Radio Online, available under: www.polskieradio.pl (last access: 04.09.2008). 740 PBS DGA poll for Gazeta Wyborcza Daily, available under: http://www.pbsdga.pl (last access: 04.09.2008).
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the political bias of individual publications, usually in line with the general ‘left-right’ divide over integration issues or in the case of the independent media, a largely positive opinion about integration process is similar to the public opinion assessment. The largest Polish dailies seem to present a largely pro-European stance, though they do not avoid discussing sensitive issues and presenting various voices from the political scene.

national interests, this would reinforce those, so far few but prestigious figures, who have carried the torch of relative scepticism towards the EU in the name of the national interest, to the point of shifting the more right-wing CSDPP and the more ‘centre right’ PSD towards a more eurosceptic position. Yet, at this point in time, this would be a bold prediction to make.

Public opinion and European integration Public opinion and European integration

Romania ∗
(European Institute of Romania)

Portugal ∗
(Institute for Strategic and International Studies)

Still very enthusiastic about EU membership One year after Romania’s accession to the EU, the public perception concerning confidence in the European Union and in the benefits of membership continues to display a high level of enthusiasm, according to the results of the latest Eurobarometers, 741 namely those released in the autumn of 2007 and spring 2008, which are actually the only ones elaborated on the basis of opinion polls devoted to the way Romanians relate to the new phenomenon of Romania belonging to the EU. If, however, between the spring and autumn of 2007 the Romanians’ confidence in the EU has shown a slight increase (from 65 percent to 68 percent), in the first part of 2008 the percentage of those expressing confidence in the EU dropped to 66 percent, while remaining still significantly above the average percentage recorded in the new member states (59 percent), and even more so above the average for the whole EU (50 percent). According to a sociological interpretation of these figures, the main reason for Romanian citizens to show confidence in the EU is related to the perception of the advantages deriving from the country’s member status, hence the fluctuations of the percentage of those expressing confidence stem from variations of the intensity with which the benefits of membership are being perceived. It is worth mentioning that, in Romania’s case, these perceptions are mostly based on prospective elements, consisting of hopes and expectations, while in the ‘older’ member
European Institute of Romania. See Standard Eurobarometer 68, National Report Romania, Autumn 2007, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ ro_nat.pdf (last access: 22 August 2008); Social and Standard Eurobarometer 69, National Report Romania, Spring 2008, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_ ro_nat.pdf (last access: 22 August 2008).
741 ∗

Traditional political alignments Public support for the EU has remained high in Portugal, clearly above the EU average, and this despite the continued economic crisis. Polls show that the Portuguese still have a mostly positive view of EU institutions, and would in fact welcome a more active role of Brussels in economic matters. However, our only real source for this are the Eurobarometer surveys, since Portuguese polls continue to mostly ignore EU-related issues. In terms of the wider debate of European issues, the basic long-term polarisation remains – with the main ’centre left’ and ’centre right’ parties and those sectors of the elites aligned with them taking a pro-EU position, and the ‘far left’ Communists and Left Bloc and their ‘compagnons de route’ as the main critics of European integration as capitalistic and elite-driven. The issue that generated most discussion of European issues as such has been the Irish referendum, to which we have already made reference, and it did not fundamentally change traditional alignments, at least not so far. One interesting question is if this third ‘No’ in a referendum on EU-related matters, and its eventual wider implications, will indeed change things in the longer term. This seems very unlikely among the ‘left’, where parties and personalities have been strongly polarised regarding the EU for decades, between a staunchly pro-EU Socialist Party, now in government, and a strongly anti-EU Communist Party and ‘far left’. Things are perhaps less clear-cut on the ‘right’, however. It is not inconceivable that if as a result of this crisis there is a prolonged impasse at the European level, and greater weight is given to
∗

Institute for Strategic and International Studies.

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states these perceptions rest on the awareness of the existence of projects completed and benefits already felt. This is why the general attitude of Romanians towards the benefits of integration is less dependent on the identification of specific advantages, these being less visible and more difficult to point out than in the case of other countries. It is also notable that, despite the stability of the ‘euro-optimism’ displayed by the Romanians, the first signs of a more critical approach towards the EU have started to emerge, while they used to be far less visible before and immediately after accession, when the paramount goal set by the political decision-makers and mimetically assumed by public opinion was that of obtaining the member state status as of the target date foreseen by the timetable of the accession negotiations. Once this important chapter on Romania’s European agenda was concluded, several events unfolding over the course of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 (in particular, the developments linked to the intensely media-covered situation generated by the treatment of the Romanian citizens of Roma origin living in Italy, as well as of other Romanian citizens resident in Italy, who are the ‘collateral damage’ of waves of discriminatory reactions) tended to reinforce the perception of a ‘second-class citizenship’, felt by the Romanians immediately after accession. The seriousness of the diagnosis of belonging to the periphery of the ‘European family’ has been intensified by the wide publicity given both at national as well as at European level to the development of the circumstances of this crisis, with a clear tendency to present the debatable decisions of the Italian authorities and the reaction of their Romanian counterparts in a logic of confrontation, the latter being commented at some length and even criticized by part of the local media for not being sufficiently firm. Moving the analysis to a more general level, compatible with a testing grid capable of assessing the European public opinion in its entirety, the perception of the marginal status internalized by the Romanians has fuelled frustrations deriving from the fact 742 at that “Romania’s voice does not matter” the European level. This, as a consequence, has informed the emergence of a
Standard Eurobarometer 68, National Report Bulgaria, Autumn 2007, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb68_ bg_nat.pdf (last access: 22 August 2008).
742

predominantly negative opinion about the country’s role in the EU. The temptation to discount “the national voice” as deprived of resonance at the European level is, nevertheless, a feature common to other EU member states as well. The citizens of theses member states, like those in Romania, tend to think that “larger countries hold the biggest power in the EU’. However, the opinion polls on which the recent Standard Eurobarometers were based are signalling an optimistic attitude by Romanians concerning the future influence of their country in Brussels. Concerning the public agenda and the hierarchy of the main preoccupations of the Romanian citizens following the moment of accession, the results of more detailed opinion polls which were made public show a change in the order of the most important fears expressed by the Romanians. Diffuse concerns linked to “Romania’s economic situation in general”, which used to top the fears of the Romanians until recently, are now being dwarfed by preoccupations stemming from the rises of prices relative to wages. These are followed by generic economic concerns and by preoccupations associated to 743 pensions, health and criminality. Several studies on the evolution of disseminating and interpreting, for general audiences, the information on topics linked to Romania’s EU accession are attempting to discern and explain whether and in what way the reconfigured political environment after 1st of January 2007, has contributed to the transformation of the public discourse from the point of view of its strategies and of the way of “stating the issues”. 744 Thus, as long as the European issues (focused on accession to the EU) used to be regarded as a consensual matter, the media favoured a normative, expert-type discourse. In Romania, the emergence of a European topic – in the sense of the built-up of a deliberative agenda – occurred against the background of a lack of dynamism at the level of the identification of issues (“poser les problèmes”), which is typical of reflection by the media in consensual situations. Public debates regarding the EU were thus affected by a deficit of the theoretical identification of issues. Experts in media
Ibid., p. 6. See Camelia Beciu: «Europe» as a media format. Strategies for constructing public problems in the Romanian press, in: Europe and the public space. Discourse, representations, emotional climate, Academiei Romane (ed.), 2007.
744 743

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communication consider that this deficit can only be bridged once the European issues come to be internalised at the collective level as ‘national themes’, reflecting the concerns of ordinary people, and not as ‘international themes’, suitable for technical, exclusively political and diplomatic approaches. Going from the theoretical level of the construction of media messages to their content and form, the predilect subjects of the analysts who are promoting a europessimist discourse concerning the level of engagement of Romania’s political elites in defending Romania’s interests in Brussels are converging towards the same vision of a country situated at the periphery of the European Union. For instance, Sever Voinescu (columnist and former General Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) considers that Romania’s European profile is almost invisible and that “our stalemate attitude on the European arena is dangerous” precisely because, “due to local stridencies, it cannot be noticed from home”. “On the one hand, from the inside, Romania looks like a hysterical country, full of noises and colours, with mindless people and uncensored temperaments. From a political standpoint, Romania is a lively country, full of energy. From outside, however, Romania looks grey, quiet, lacking salience and 745 importance.” The critical and pessimistic attitude of editorialists like Sever Voinescu is also reflected in the way of explaining the special interest shown by the public opinion (and the political elites as well) in respect to the financial benefits of accession (the structural funds). Something which is not necessarily a fundamentally flawed way of regarding the absorption of community funds (at least, insofar as practically all member states pay a special attention to the ‘net balance’ of their interactions with the EU budget), is seen by the analysts as evidence of the perpetuation of a mentality of an ‘assisted person’, indicative, in his view, of the vitiated way Romania assumes its EU member status, as well as for the lack of interest shown by its citizens and political decision makers relative to the most prominent European issues.

Public opinion and European integration

Slovakia ∗
(Slovak Foreign Policy Association)

Positive view of EU-membership Slovak citizens regularly score high support for the European Union and tend to have more positive view on the European affairs. Last Eurobarometer results show that “49% of Slovak citizens think that the things in the European Union are going in the right direction while in the EU27 only 40% of citizens share this view.” 746 According to a national opinion poll by FOCUS from April 2008 “two out of three Slovaks said the country’s entry into the European Union four years ago was the right move” 747. 16.8 percent of people see EU membership as disadvantage. But the growing group is people who believe that EU membership brings Slovakia more advantages than disadvantages. Since 2005 it has grown from 25 percent to nowadays 35 percent according to a national poll. This support is still accompanied by the lower level of knowledge about the functioning of the EU. 76 percent of Slovak citizens think that people are not well informed or are not informed at all about EU. Only 20 percent of people consider Slovaks to be well 748 Slovak citizens gain most of the informed. information from media but surprisingly 63 percent of them think that television offer sufficient information. The EU-27 average in this question is 39 percent. Only 29 percent of Slovaks regard presented information as too little and that is again below EU-27 average (48 percent). So Slovaks are the most satisfied EU nation in regards of satisfaction with information on EU presented in television and as well as in radio. Latest national opinion polls focus on the support for and citizens concerns from joining the eurozone but these show that citizens who are in favour of Euro at the same 749 time claim to be well informed (75 percent). Government attitude towards European integration is officially supportive but in reality
Slovak Foreign Policy Association. Standard Eurobarometer 68 / Autumn 2007. 747 Two out of three Slovaks think it was right to enter EU, Slovak Spectator, 12.5.2008, available under: http://www.spectator.sk/articles/view/31685/2/two_out_of_t hree_slovaks_think_it_was_right_to_enter_eu.html (last access: September 30, 2008). 748 Standard Eurobarometer 68 / Autumn 2007. 749 Názory na zavedenie meny EURO na Slovensku, FOCUS, May 2008, available under: http://www.focusresearch.sk/files/87_Nazory%20na%20zavedenie%20EUR O%20na%20Slovensku%2005-2008.pdf (last access: September 30, 2008).
746 ∗

Sever Voinescu: Why we are not important?, in: Dilema Veche, 29 March 2008; Sever Voinescu: Far away from Europe, in: Cotidianul, 18 June 2007.

745

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are Prime Minister’s statements ambiguous. For example, at the beginning of summer, the Prime Minister declared that the Lisbon Treaty ratification process can be only retrieved when EU highest representatives start to focus on more important and realistic issues as rising food and fuel prices and stop to discuss the treaty. 750 The euro-sceptical parties are very small and except one – Christian Democratic Movement – all of them are outside the parliament and they get hardly any attention in media. Among pressure groups medical unions have tried to bring their agenda to the EU level when they organized a strike in Brussels in May 2008. Medical unions request to increase salaries in health care system. Especially unions tried to focus the attention on the wage differentials. Personnel in smaller regional or local hospitals earn less than those working in big or university hospitals. After failure to raise this issue at home, unions presented their requests at the Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) plenary session in Brussels. Their attempt was rather unsuccessful for different reasons. Activities in Slovakia like doctors’ strikes threats and closed policlinics are not coordinated and frequent so only small attention is devoted. Slovak member of the ECOSOC Martin Chren considered their presentation as constrained and member of the European Parliament Irena Belohorská criticized unions that they did not bring this issue to the parliamentary 751 discussion. Unions attempt illustrates lurking outlasting perspective of EU as judging political authority as it acted during accession process.

EU was a good thing for Slovenia. 752 Despite a relative decline in support for the membership since the last Eurobarometer (56 percent in autumn 2007), Slovenian results once again remained levelled among average in the EU. It needs to be emphasized that Standard Eurobarometer polls represent the most comprehensive public opinion analysis in Slovenia since national opinion polls on European issues are almost completely absent. Despite the incoming and later ongoing Slovenian EU-Presidency in the first half of 2008, no official polls published by the government communication office in the last year included questions related to general or specific EU matters. However answers to the standard question of 753 on trust in public the “Politbarometer” polls institutions among those also the EU, somehow reflect the results of the Eurobarometer. Poll results from December 2007 754 and June 2008 755 indicate that 38 percent of respondents place trust in the EU, putting the latter firmly in the upper half of the most trusted public institutions. Such results can be attributed to the fact that there is a trend of a high level of trust in international institutions, and a considerably lower level of trust in national institutions respectively, in post-socialist countries. In Slovenia, this is confirmed by the low level of trust enjoyed by the government (21 percent in December 2007, 18 percent in June 2008) and the national assembly (20 percent in January 756 Though 2007, 17 percent in June 2008). hardly representative, various small-scale opinion polls conducted by printed and electronic media additionally show a generally
Standard Eurobarometer 69, First Results, Spring 2008, p. 24, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb_69 _first_en.pdf (last access: 9 July 2008). 753 “Politbarometer” is a comprehensive poll, conducted by the “Center za raziskovanje javnega mnenja” (Centre for public opinion research), commissioned by the Government’s information office between 1995 and 2005 and independent ever since. 754 The number of respondents was 833. 755 The number of respondents was 804. 756 Javnomnenjske raziskave o odnosu javnosti do aktualnih razmer in dogajanj v Sloveniji (Public opinion surveys on the attitude of the public towards current affairs and developments in Slovenia), Politbarometer 3/2007. p. 20, available at: http://www.cjm.si/sites/cjm.si/files/File/raziskava_pb/pb3_0 7.pdf (last access: 5 July 2008); Javnomnenjske raziskave o odnosu javnosti do aktualnih razmer in dogajanj v Sloveniji (Public opinion surveys on the attitude of the public towards current affairs and developments in Slovenia), Politbarometer 6/2008, p. 4, available at: http://www.cjm.si/sites/cjm.si/files/File/raziskava_pb/pb06_ 08.pdf (last access: 5 July 2008).
752

Public opinion and European integration

Slovenia ∗
(Centre of International Relations)

Stable support – apathy dominates over genuine interest The first results of the Standard Eurobarometer 69 (June 2008) showed that 52 percent of the respondents believed that membership in the

Fico vie, ako zachrániť Lisabonskú zmluvu, Pravda, 3.7.2008, available under: http://spravy.pravda.sk/fico-vieako-zachranit-lisabonsku-zmluvufp/sk_domace.asp?c=A080703_154310_sk_domace_p23 (last access: September 30, 2008). 751 Zdravotnícki odborári vraj boli v Bruseli prijatí rozpačito, SITA, 29.5.2008. ∗ Centre of International Relations.

750

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positive image of the EU in the eyes of the public. On-line surveys made on the internet portal of the national television station (“RTV Slovenija”) show that 43 percent of the respondents believe that membership in the EU contributed to the rise in the standard of living in Slovenia and for 53 percent of the respondents the EU fulfilled their expectations. 757 Eurobarometer and national public opinion polls show no clearly identifiable long-term trend in the support for the membership in the EU. Moreover, the support for membership has been constantly shown levels common to the average throughout Europe. Such results could be explained by the fact that entering the EU did not change the lives of citizens significantly; the only major novelty was the subsequent adoption of the Euro. Down-to-earth issues, no vision European integration in general is more often than not absent from public discourse and only rarely appears as the focal point of public debate. The reasons for this can be found in the lack of public interest in European issues and in the disinclination of the national political issues to coincide with their wider European political framework. However, since Slovenia entered the EU in May 2004, traces of specific topics related to the functioning of the EU could be found, which appeared to have penetrated into the public sphere on several occasions. The most visible among these topics have been: the opening of new markets; the effects the membership in the EU has on consumers; the effects of the EU on the farming community; the monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the citizens’ 758 attitude towards the Euro. In the first half of 2008 the most salient topic related to the EU was the Slovenian EU-Presidency, which is analysed in Chapter 7 of this issue of EU-27
RTV Slovenija: Vprašanje: Ali menite, da je vstop v EU prispeval k dvigu življenjske ravni? (Question: Do you believe that membership in the EU contributed to the rise in the standard of living?), 5 September 2005, available at: http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php?&c_mod=poll&op=polls&f unc=listmain&page=23 (last access: 9 July 2008); RTV Slovenija: Vprašanje: So se po dveh letih članstva v EU izpolnila vaša pričakovanja? (Question: Were your expectations fulfilled after two years of membership in the EU?), 1 May 2006, available at: http://www.rtvslo.si/modload.php?&c_mod=poll&op=polls&f unc=listmain&page=85 (last access: 9 July 2008). 758 Perception of the autonomy of the European Central Bank and the citizens’ perception of the single European currency is dealt with in Chapter 5 this issue of EU-27 Watch.
757

Watch. The following paragraphs represent a more detailed actor-specific analysis of the perception of European integration in close connection to the above-mentioned topics of public discourse. Business community The Slovenian business community has had a very positive perception of the EU due to the number of new opportunities brought by the European integration process. In January 2005 the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jožko Čuk, stated that the favourable macroeconomic situation that developed after Slovenia entered the EU proved to be a big incentive for Slovenian companies. Opening of markets, the development of a wider financial market and easier access to capital not only stimulated the import-export activities of larger companies, but also had a very favourable effect on the international operation of small and medium 759 enterprises. Current topics of debate within the business community related to the EU are mainly focused upon the alarming rates of inflation that could eventually endanger the competitiveness of European companies in general. Despite the ECB’s decision taken in the beginning of July 2008 to raise the interest rate to 4.25 percent, Slovenian companies remained seriously worried about the growing prices of raw materials and the consequent 760 rise of costs of production. Pressure groups The influence of European integration processes on the activities of pressure groups in Slovenia mostly remains an unstudied area. Available information leads to the conclusion that pressure groups, in the circumstances of the full membership of Slovenia in the EU, enjoy various systemic opportunities, enabling them to enter the policy-making processes not only on local and national levels, but supranational levels as well. On the other hand, their influence is restricted exactly due to different structural opportunities that make it difficult for the pressure groups to choose the
Barbara Štrukelj: Predsednik GZS Čuk: Za podjetništvo trenutno najbolj stimulativne makroekonomske razmere (President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Čuk: Entrepreneurship currently faces a most favourable macroeconomic situation, STA, 30 January 2005. 760 STA: Slovenska podjetja kljub potezi ECB skrbi inflacija (Slovenian companies remain worried about the inflation despite the move of the ECB), 3 July 2008.
759

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most efficient channel of influence. 761 The biggest and most active pressure groups in the country operate in the domains of the labour market and consumer protection. Generally, the EU enjoys passive support among employers or their associations and also among trade unions. The Association of Employers of Slovenia (“Združenje delodajalcev Slovenije”) asserted that the realization of the Lisbon Strategy and especially the implementation of the concept of ‘flexicurity’ currently represent the biggest challenges of the EU and should therefore be placed high on the agenda. Moreover, the Association of Employers is also worried about the ambitious goal of the EU related to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which might, in their opinion, hamper economic growth in energy-intensive sectors of 762 On the other hand, trade unions industry. perceive the EU especially as an important ideological stimulus in their struggle for workers’ welfare. Social partnership and social dialogue are the values of the EU that are most commonly expressed by representatives of trade unions. The latter believe that social responsibility of capital in industrial relations, which the EU stands for, ought to be reflected in the results of national collective bargaining. 763 Entering into the EU in May 2004 did not bring significant changes to consumers, since products from Western European markets had already been available to Slovenian consumers for a while. However, effects that the European integration process had on consumers were visible in the context of the introduction of the Euro. In this period the Consumers Association of Slovenia (“Zveza potrošnikov Slovenije”) was an active pressure group warning consumers about the unjustified 764 increase in prices of products and services. Bogomir Kovač, a renowned economist and a supporter of the consumers association, stated that consumer protection was a relative novelty in the EU because preference had been given to other instruments of economic integration.
Danica Fink Hafner, Lobiranje in njegova regulacija (Lobbying and its regulation), Ljubljana 2007 pp. 42-3. 762 Aljoša Rehar: EU/2008: Gospodarstvo za uvedbo bolj ambicioznih reform (EU/2008: The economy favours more ambitious reforms), STA, 3 December 2007. 763 STA: Na ZSSS ob dnevu človekovih pravic opozorili na pomen sindikatov (Slovenian Association of Free Trade Unions emphasizes the significance of trade unions on Human Rights Day), 9 December 2005. 764 The activity of the Consumers Association is more thoroughly dealt with in Chapter 5 of this issue of EU-27 Watch.
761

The consequence of this is a highly differentiated consumer market where comparable products and services have very different prices. In his opinion this is reducing the benefits and the efficiency of the single market. 765 Farming Community Membership in the EU and the consequent opening of agricultural markets represented a great challenge for the Slovenian farming community. Farmers believe that the membership in the EU furthermore intensified the effects of globalization on agricultural trade, bringing more competition and new problems with the buying-in of Slovenian products. In order to ensure the success on the single market, producers needed to establish a unified approach towards trade in agricultural products, which demanded further linking of 766 regional producers’ organizations. The farming community believes that any radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in terms of a retrenchment of financial expenditure would be detrimental to agriculture not only in Slovenia, but also all over Europe. Moreover, the Agriculture and Forestry Chamber of Slovenia (“Kmetijska in gozdarska zbornica Slovenije”) stated that the Government should not advocate such a reform of the CAP, since agriculture is the key sector providing Slovenia with the position of a net-beneficiary of EU funds. This is supported by the fact that in 2007 the Government was truly successful only in the field of CAP, where it managed to acquire 150.5 million Euros in 767 EU funds out of the 160.9 million planned.

Bogomir Kovač: V imenu potrošnika (In the name of the consumer), Mladina, 28 March 2008, available at: http://www.mladina.si/tednik/200812/clanek/slo-ekonomija-bogomir_kovac/ (last access: 10 July 2008). 766 STA: Slovenski kmetijstvo mora za preživetje v EU uspešno povezati tržne tokove (Slovenian agriculture needs to succesfully link market flows in order to survive in the EU), 10 August 2004. 767 Urša Marn. Slab izkupiček Slovenije (A bad take for Slovenia), Mladina, 13 April 2008, available at: http://www.mladina.si/tednik/200814/clanek/slo-crpanje_evropskih_sredstev-ursa_marn/ (last access: 10 July 2008).

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Public opinion and European integration

Spain ∗
(Elcano Royal Institute)

Public opinion in Spain While Eurobarometer survey 68 / Autumn 2007 results show an increase in support for membership of the EU among the member states, the case of Spain goes in the opposite direction. Although Spanish opinion towards the decision making in the EU is still positive and there is an optimist attitude about the future of the European integration process, the truth is that results have worsened in comparison with those of the Eurobarometer 67. Thus, those thinking that Spain’s membership of the EU is a good thing (68 percent of the public vis-à-vis 58 percent as an average in the EU-27) are 5 percent less than in 2007; those saying that Spain had on balance benefited from being a member of the Union (64 percent vis-à-vis 58 percent in the average EU-27) have fallen 11 percent since 2007 which is the largest fall recorded in the Union; and the number of Spaniards who tend to agree that Spain will become more influential to the EU in the future (58 percent vis-à-vis the 43 percent of EU-27) has reduced 17 percent in only one 768 Additionally, according to the year. Eurobarometer itself, both the Spanish parliament and government have enjoyed very high levels of trust in this latest edition of the survey, in contrast to the majority of other EU member states where citizens tend not to trust their national polities. Anyhow, and considering the traditional Europeanism of Spanish public, figures are high as it is demonstrated above (in brackets) when data are compared with the EU average. The majority of Spanish interviewees (47 percent) agree that the interests of Spain are taken into consideration in the Union and 44 percent thinks that things are going in the right direction. When evaluating the future of the EU, 59 percent of the Spanish public feel fairly optimistic while another 10 percent is very optimistic. Regarding the decisions that should be taken in each level of government, 64 percent of Spaniards prefer that issues like terrorism or immigration be Europeanised. In contrast, decisions on social issues should only be
Elcano Royal Institute. See Eurobarometer 68 / Autumn 2007. Nacional Report, Spain.
768 ∗

taken by the states. 47 percent of the Spanish public think that the EU should prioritise the fight against illegal immigration. With data of a national opinion poll 769, Spaniards are divided regarding EU defence policy, with 40 percent in favour and 40 percent against increasing military spending in order for Europe to stop depending on the United States. Moving on to a recent issue of the EU, an overwhelming 80 percent are against extending the work day more than 40 hours weekly. It is also interesting to note that the majority (52 percent) of the Spaniards feel not very well informed and only 3 percent very well informed on EU affairs, even though they trust the majority of the national media. Regarding how European integration is perceived by political, business or social elites, the fact is that Europeanism remains very high and there is a general consensus about the need of a stronger Europe; “which is capable of making decisions efficiently and making a difference in the world, an integrated Europe, one that renounces the right to veto and admits that some institutions, which will not work on the basis of national representation, will be 770 able to make important decisions” . For both the government and the opposition energy policy (and climate change), immigration and fighting terrorism are the three areas in which the EU should concentrate in the near future. Spain is, roughly speaking, a country which believes in Europe and wants to advance the project for political union. At the same time, Spanish politicians are worried by the idea that the EU has become something distant and sometimes unintelligible. However, it is not clear if they are really supporting a change of approach in the relations EU institutionscitizens.

18th wave of the Barometer of the Elcano Royal Institute (June 2008), available under: www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Baro meteroftheRIElcano (last access: September 30, 2008). 770 Address by the Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero “In Spain's interest: A Committed Foreign Policy” on 16 June 2008 organised by the Elcano Royal Institute available in English, French and Spanish at: http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/ Content?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/Elcano_in/Zonas_in /Europe/00027 (last access: September 30, 2008).

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Public opinion and European integration

Sweden ∗
(Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

Increased support for the EU in Sweden The European trend of increasing endorsement of the EU is mirrored in Sweden as well. The Eurobarometer figures for Sweden took a sharp upward trend in the spring of 2006 when support increased from 39 to 49 percent. This trend is continued in the Eurobarometer 69 of spring 2008, according to which 54 percent of Swedes see membership of the EU as positive (as compared to the EU27 average of 52). The view is most positive among the youngest respondents (15-24: 59 percent) and decreases with each age category (55+: 46 percent). Furthermore, there is a strong relationship between academic education and a positive view on the EU. Other differences relate to professional fields. Persons with executive positions support the EU by 66 percent, whereas for office employees the figure is 56 percent, for manual workers 49, for unemployed 46 and for housewives 42 percent. There is also a noticeable difference between male (57 percent) and female (47 percent) 771 endorsement. Other well-known differences among groups in society can be seen in the SOM survey (March 2008) of Gothenburg University. The endorsement of EU membership in this survey is 46 percent, with 29 percent against and 25 percent having no definite opinion. 772 The distribution among sympathizers of the different political parties is as follows: The Moderate Party 69 percent, The Liberal Party 64 percent, the Centre Party 52 percent, the Christian Democratic Party 45 percent, the Social Democratic Party 36 percent, the Green Party 39 percent and the Left Party 27 percent. 773 Another strong divisive factor is urban versus rural areas: among those who live in the cities, 60 percent are positive towards the EU, whereas this figure is only 37 percent in rural areas. 774
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 771 Standard Eurobarometer 69, National Report Sweden, Spring 2008, question QA7, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_ se_nat.pdf (last access: 19 August 2008). 772 Sören Holmberg: Swedish Opinion on the Swedish Membership in the European Union 1994-2007, SOM report 5/2008, , March 2008, p. 3, available under: http://www.som.gu.se/rapporter/nya_rapporter_2008/europ ean_union.pdf (last access: 19 August 2008). 773 Ibid., p. 11. 774 Ibid., p. 9.
∗

Generally, the business community is strongly for the EU, whereas the media is divided and pressure groups of a variety of types are seeking to influence politicians and the general public on EU matters.

Public opinion and European integration

Turkey

∗

(Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University)

EU: a successful economic structure threatens national sovereignty Turkish public opinion in the recent months has been mainly preoccupied with the ongoing political tension in domestic politics. Two major issues dominate the political agenda, the closure case against the governing AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – Justice and Development Party) in the constitutional court, and the ongoing “Ergenekon” investigation of the plots of a neo-nationalist uprising against the government. 775 Both issues have dominated the political debate in Turkey since January 2008, not leaving much space for foreign policy in general, and the European Union in particular. The most recent example of the domination of domestic politics over foreign policy was the opening of two new chapters (company law (chapter 6) and intellectual property law (chapter 7)) in Turkey’s negotiation process. This important event went almost unnoticed in the general press and media, headlines being reserved for the successes of the Turkish national football team in the EURO 2008 championship, followed by the arrests of certain individuals as part of the “Ergenokon” 776 investigation . In the first half of 2008, Turkish public opinion on Turkey’s membership in the European Union did not change much from the last six months of 2007. Without a major development
Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University. 775 For a detailed analysis on both issues see Senem Aydin Düzgit: What is happening in Turkey? Party Closure and Beyond, CEPS Commentary, available at: http://shop.ceps.be/downfree.php?item_id=1520 (last access: 30 July 2008). 776 Three major daily newspapers have been analyzed on 17, 18 and 19 June 2008. See the websites Aksam, available at: www.aksam.com.tr(last access: 30 July 2008); Sabah, available at: www.sabah.com.tr (last access: 30 July 2008); Zaman, available at: www.zaman.com.tr (last access: 30 July 2008).
∗

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in Turkey-EU relations and with the focus of the public opinion on domestic politics, the results of the last two Eurobarometer polls for Turkey confirm that the steady decline of positive evaluations of membership in Turkey has stopped. 777 When asked if they consider Turkey’s membership ‘a good thing’ or ‘a bad thing’, 49 percent of Turkish respondents have answered it is a ‘good thing’. The opinion appears to be stabilized around this figure since spring 2007, when the rate of the respondents who indicated that “membership would be a good thing” was at 52 percent. However, when the evaluation of membership as “a good thing” is taken as the major indicator for support, Turkish public opinion differs from the high level of support observed in EU member states. If the analysis is extended beyond the evaluation of membership as ‘a good thing’ or ‘a bad thing’, certain characteristics of Turkish public opinion regarding the EU becomes apparent. First of all, the Turkish public has a major trust issue regarding the EU and its institutions. As indicated in the last number of EU-27 Watch778, the actions and declarations of the European politicians such as the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who questions Turkey’s EU membership and Turkey’s European ness, has a significant impact on Turkish attitudes. In the recent Standard Eurobarometer 69 779, the rate of Turkish citizens who have indicated that they “tend to trust” the European Union is 31 percent, significantly lower than the EU average of 50 percent. What is even more striking is the fact that slightly more than half of the interviewees indicated that they “tend not to trust” the EU. When the European institutions are questioned, the European Commission suffers
Standard Eurobarometer 68, Full Report, May 2008, avalaible at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb_68 _en.pdf (last access: 30 July 2008); Standard Eurobarometer 69, First Results June 2008, avalaible at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb_69 _first_en.pdf (last access: 30 July 2008). 778 See Sait Aksit/Tolga Bolukbasi/Ebru Ertugal/Burcu Gultekin/Ayse Idil Aybars/Kıvan/Ulusoy/Cigdem Ustun/O.Gokhan Yandas: Report on Turkey, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (ed:): EU-27 Watch No. 6, March 2008, p. 62, available at: http://www.euconsent.net/content.asp?contentid=522 (last access: 30 July 2008). 779 Standard Eurobarometer 68, First Results, June 2008, valaible at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb68/eb_68 _en.pdf (last access: 30 July 2008).
777

from the lowest level of trust from Turkish public opinion, as only 23 percent of the respondents declared they “tend to trust” the European Commission, in contrast to the EU average of 47 percent. As the Standard Eurobarometer 69 summarizes, “Low levels of subjective as well as objective knowledge and a low level of importance attributed to EU institutions are also coupled with low levels of trust in EU institutions. For all EU institutions, Turkey’s trust levels are about half of the EU 780 member states”. When other reasons of euroscepticism beyond lack of trust to European institutions are investigated, two possible explanations stand out. The first is the feeling of being treated unfairly by the European Union in the quest for membership; the second is the fear of loosing national sovereignty and identity. On the first issue, Turkish public, political and academic circles agree that the European Union should “rethink its faltering degree of engagement with Turkey. If its members had united to offer Turkey a firm and optimistic timetable for accession, instead of constantly 781 raising the bar to entry […].” The strong national identity of Turkish citizens and their scepticism towards European integration fits in with what Catharina Sørensen calls, “sovereignty based euroscepticism” 782. In this way of thinking, the citizens perceive the European Union as a successful economic structure, but remain sceptical of any undertaking that could challenge national sovereignty. When the respondents were asked why they consider EU membership would be a bad thing in the Standard Eurobarmeter 69, one third of them indicated that they are against the European Union in general, while 17 percent believe that EU membership would make the country more vulnerable and 16 percent indicated that best way to solve problems is at the national level. All these responses go along with the definition of sovereignty based euroscepticism.

Standard Eurobarometer 69, National Report Executive Summary, p. 3, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_ tr_exe.pdf (last access: 30 July 2008). 781 Financial Times: Turkey’s secularist coup must crumble, editorial commentary , 2 July 2008. 782 Catharina Sørensen: Love me, love me not... A typology of public euroscepticism, SEI working paper No. 101/EPERN working paper No. 19.

780

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The government continues to advocate the European accession process, or at least tries to appear so. The main attention and energy of the press, politicians and business circles is concentrated on the dire straits Turkey is going through in it domestic politics. The European accession process in general is considered as a secondary issue. The potential repercussions of the decision of the constitutional court on the closing down of the AKP are the major preoccupation of the citizens, business circles and political elites alike. Thus, the European integration in the coming months does not seem likely to go higher on the Turkish political agenda, especially with the French Presidency, during which not much progress is expected. That is of course, in the absence of a major development in the EU-Turkey relations, either negative or positive.

fill the usual news vacuum on European questions and to influence substantially this middle ground. A 17 June poll commissioned by the eurosceptic organisation “Open Europe” 783 found that while 29 percent favoured continued membership of the European Union, 24 percent favoured leaving it altogether. The largest proportion (38 percent) favoured a “Single Market without the political elements”, responding to the narrative – cultivated by organisations such as “Open Europe” – that this was the arrangement agreed to in the 1975 British referendum on continued membership of the then-EC, and indeed that such an arrangement would be objectively possible. The unpopularity of the Brown government, combined with a feeling that the promise for a referendum had been somehow withdrawn after the Constitutional Treaty’s failure has allowed resentment against an ‘untrustworthy ruling elite’ – in Westminster as well as Brussels – to build. That those in favour of the Lisbon Treaty’s ratification almost exclusively opposed a referendum while those against the treaty were united in their call for a referendum helped support this feeling; it was also indicative of a general acceptance that the ‘No camp’ was very likely to be successful had any vote on the Lisbon Treaty taken place. Government tries to please eurosceptics Much weight is rightly attributed in the United Kingdom to the role of the media in sustaining a broad but uninformed euroscepticism in public debate. Widely circulated and stridently anti-European newspapers such as “The Sun” and “Daily Mail” often succeed in dictating the terms of political debate. The Blair and Brown governments, though by their actions apparently accepting of the need for some degree of increased political integration at the European level, have nonetheless had the terms of their arguments dictated by these and other eurosceptic outlets such as the “Daily Telegraph”, which ran a national petition in favour of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The government’s defensive approach was typified by its presentation of negotiations over the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties, in which it stressed what was not in the treaties and what ‘red lines’ had not been crossed. The image of the European Union as an inherently
See: http://www.openeurope.org.uk/media%2Dcentre/pressrele ase.aspx?pressreleaseid=79 (last access: 22 September 2008).
783

Public opinion and European integration

United Kingdom ∗
(Federal Trust for Education and Research)

British EU-enthusiasm on its lowest level since 1983 Most British commentators would receive with surprise the news that support for EU membership is at a decade-high level. They would certainly not recognise such an analysis as being reflected in United Kingdom attitudes. A recent opinion poll showed British enthusiasm for the EU as being at its lowest level since 1983. Indeed, those holding the perception of Britain as being somehow different to ‘mainland Europe’ would only have their views confirmed by polls suggesting such different perceptions of the Union in other countries. The vocal campaign for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty fought by the Conservative Party and the eurosceptic British media have certainly impacted negatively on British attitudes towards the EU. However, a characteristic of British attitudes towards Europe is that, while there may be a ‘hard core’ of fervently anti-European politicians and media outlets, much of the broader suspicion about the ‘European project’ is relatively shallow. The malleability of this broad middle section of the public is in part a result of European politics figuring so little in day-to-day public debate. Debates such as those over the ratification of the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties represent opportunities for polemic to
∗

Federal Trust for Education and Research.

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foreign body was reinforced as a result. Only the liberal The “Independent” newspaper, which has the smallest circulation of the daily national broadsheets, is explicitly proEuropean. The business community’s attitude towards the European Union is at any time founded upon its perceptions of a varied set of considerations. For example, a sample of business leaders might well assert that, on the one hand, excessive regulatory burdens (‘red tape’) are imposed on businesses by Brussels, but on the other that the internal market has brought great economic benefits to British business. The interplay over time of such arguments is central to the business community’s perception of the European Union. There is however, in the current climate, seldom evidence of overt support for or opposition to the EU from the business community. Were British membership of the Euro to become a ‘live issue’ at some point in the future, different sectors of the business community would no doubt be more minded to lend their weighty support – political and financial – to both sides of the debate, and to sharpen the community’s attitudes towards the Union in more clearly discernible directions.

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EU-27 Watch | Political leadership in the EU

4
Political leadership in the EU
The Lisbon Treaty includes some provisions (e.g. introducing the position of an elected President of the European Council) that might well change the nature of political leadership in the EU in the future. • Taking this into consideration, which personalities, institutions, or countries might be capable of playing a leading role in the future and why? Are such issues of high salience in your country? What are the main concerns and expectations in this context?

•

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Political leadership in the EU

Austria ∗
(Austrian Institute of International Affairs)

Schüssel President of the European Council? There has been not much discussion on this question. The only expectations Austria carries towards the EU is – as already mentioned above– whether former Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel can get enough support at the European level to be elected as President of the European Council. In general the Lisbon Treaty has been discussed as a whole. Certain aspects where not taken out and looked at in an extraordinary way. One topic that became a highly discussed issue was the possible effects of the Lisbon Treaty towards Austria’s neutrality.

propose compromises and reach a consensus. He should also have good leadership, social and language skills. 786 Thus, the President will be important, but for Belgian political actors it was important to determine the profile for that position first before starting the discussions on the personalities likely to fulfil the post. 787 Another position considered important in Belgium is the High Representative of the Union for Common Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as he is the link between the Commission and the Council, the supranational and the intergovernmental aspects of the European Union. 788 Finally, Belgium is in favour of a strong General Affairs Council. It should maintain its position of coordination and continue to prepare the European Council’s meetings. 789

Political leadership in the EU

Political leadership in the EU

Belgium ∗
(Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles)

Bulgaria

∗

(Bulgarian European Community Studies Association)

Defining profiles before discussing personalities The issue was not of high salience in Belgium during this term. The most important elements were first, that a profile is defined before considering specific persons for a position and second, that positions are given to a person originating from a full EU member (member state without opt-out or derogation). 784 The position of President of the European Council did not create a real enthusiasm although it was seen as relevant. 785 Belgium is not in favour of a presidential leader but would rather see a chairperson, who does not take the lead but encourages and handles the debates. Moreover, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs stressed the importance for Belgium that the future president comes from a country that is a full member of the European Union, in other words not from the United Kingdom. The selected person should be a good negotiator, able to
Austrian Institute of International Affairs. Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles. 784 See Knack, 06/04/08, 28/05/08, available under: www.knack.be (last access: 22/07/2008); Le Soir, 07/05/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 785 See Knack, 28/05/08, available under: www.knack.be (last access: 22/07/2008).
∗ ∗

Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha not nominated as ‘President’ Bulgaria closely followed the debate on the nominations of a future President of the European Council, which unfolded prior to the Irish referendum and froze soon afterwards. The Bulgarian Minister of European Affairs, Gergana Grancharova, expressed the hope that the Bulgarian side would participate effectively in the forthcoming debate on identifying the persons who would hold the new European posts, the President of the European Council as well as a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and in the decisionmaking on the status of the national diplomats who would work in the future European External Action Service. These claims have materialized by the official announcements of 790 several representatives of the party NDSV – including Grancharova – about the possibility for nominating Bulgaria’s former king (1943See Knack, 06/04/08, available under: www.knack.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 787 See Le Soir, 07/05/08, available under: www.lesoir.be (last access: 22/07/2008). 788 Interview with a civil servant from the Belgian Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development cooperation. 789 Ibid. ∗ Bulgarian European Community Studies Association. 790 Since the 2005 elections, the party “NDSV” takes part in the current governing coalition together with the socialist “BSP” and the Turkish party “DPS”.
786

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1946) and Prime Minister (2001-2005) Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha for the post of President of the European Council. However, these suggestions have not been sustained by other members of the governing coalition and have failed to become an official nomination of the Bulgarian government. They should, therefore, be regarded not even as a bargaining chip of Bulgaria for demanding concessions on other issues of policy making, but rather as accompanying intra-party reshuffling. As a smaller and newer EU member state, Bulgaria could/should put higher stakes on the question of the formation of a EU diplomatic service, which is another institutional issue of the highest priority.

enlargement fatigue, which threatens a strong vision of European integration and its extension. The main problem lies in the leadership crisis. There is no political leader in Europe, except maybe the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has the potential to turn back that negative trend which has lasted for too long.” 793 Interestingly, before the Irish referendum political analyst Jurica Korbler wrote for the same daily: “Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, German-French duo, as the time goes by, are becoming more and more the real driving engine of European integration” 794, while after the Irish referendum. Anđelko Milardović in his column at the same paper warned: “It is one more evidence of the main weakness of the EU project, the lack of the discussion on concept of the development of the Union. Most European leaders believe that the discussion of conceptualization of the structure of EU is over, which is completely wrong.” 795 Most of the comments and reactions of the Croatian media and political leadership are focused on the question what would be the impact of the recent crisis on political leadership in EU, that is to say, how the lack of political leadership will affect the enlargement process, particularly the chances of Croatia to become a 28th full-fledged member. Prime Minister Ivo Sanader is persistently stating that the Irish ‘No’ will not harm Croatia’s efforts to become full-fledged member in due time, providing Croatia will meet all European 796 standards and benchmarks in that period. All the prime ministers of Southern-European countries agreed with him at the conference “Croatian Summit” in Dubrovnik. 797 However who will be the one to decide on the legal niche, so that Croatia could possibly go through evading the constitutional agenda, nobody dares to mention. It will be the European Commissioner for enlargement Oli Rehn who keeps stating that he believes that accession negotiations will be completed by the end of 2009, providing Croatia will progress in reforms, especially in the fight against corruption, the reform of judiciary, restructuring
Bruno Lopandic. “EU is waiting the outcome of election in the USA”. Vjesnik, 14 and 15 June 2008. 794 Jurica Korbler: “The leaders of vision are today leading the united Europe”. Vjesnik, 3 nd 4 May 2008. 795 Anđelko Milardović: “The question of conceptualization of the EU and possible scenarios”., Vjesnik, 4 July 2008. 796 Prime Minister Sanader statement quoted in Jutarnji list, 20 June 2008, p. 10. 797 th th The conference was on 4 and 5 of July 2008.
793

Political leadership in the EU

Croatia ∗
(Institute for International Relations)

EU political leadership crucial In Croatia, the problem of political leadership in EU is mostly tackled in the context of the current crisis around Lisbon Treaty, after the negative outcome of the Irish referendum. Some media analysts 791 stressed that the Irish referendum has also provoked the negative attitude and feelings towards the treaty in the Czech Republic and Poland. The question is who will have the motivation, political will and enough determination to stop that negative trajectory and to turn back the development of the EU on the whole in the right track. Political weekly “Globus” quoted the statement of the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who said that he is uncertain if the Lisbon Treaty is in consent with the Czech constitution and was unable to forecast what would actually happen 792 The with ratification in the Czech Republic. same article also brought an interview with Declan Ganley, the leader of Irish organization “Libertas”, who articulated the key flaws of the Lisbon Treaty among which the important one is that the President of the European Council will not be selected through a democratic vote of the people but though a bureaucratic mechanism in Brussels. Pro-government daily “Vjesnik” wrote: “The problem is neither in a Lisbon Treaty, nor in the Irish referendum. At the scene are not only an economic crisis on a global scale or
Institute for International Relations. Bisera Fabrio: “The man who stopped Croatia”. Globus, 27 June 2008, pp. 144-145. 792 Ibid., p. 145.
791 ∗

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of industry (particularly in shipbuilding), respect of minority rights and all another very wellknown criteria. 798 However the question remains – if Croatia would be successful meeting all those benchmarks, what will be pushing the safeguarding of further enlargement track if the legal framework, in terms of Lisbon Treaty or some other in EU recognized document, will not be set at this time. By repeatedly citing the newest statements of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy on the need to have some legal treaty document before acceding new members including Croatia, the Croatian media is suggesting that this duo have the most important relevance in directing the enlargement trajectory and towards paving ways towards overcoming the current crisis. There are particular hopes and deep persuasions that the French Presidency will find the way. Nevertheless, in this context the problem of disagreement on the possible creation of a union of Mediterranean states between Merkel and Sarkozy has been 799 commented. There was yet another piece of evidence that in the EU real, not formal, leadership is shared by both political leaders, when Angela Merkel has also a very large share of relevance. 800 In the period before the Irish referendum crisis there were some comments on the political leadership in EU, based on the Lisbon Treaty. Journalist Željko Trkanjec reported: “The contest for the president of Europe already started on a more fierce and open way, than expected. A big fight is ongoing; the whole of Europe is already witnessing a lot of lobbying efforts in order to find out who would be the optimal person for this position. All this is naturally occurring off the record, far from eyes of the public, very discreetly. During these discrete talks, some information is leaked, such as in one instance that Nicolas Sarkozy does not want to have former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as the possible president, due to his support of Georg Bush’s policy in Iraq. This rumour has a special relevance because Sarkozy came out with this statement after the meeting with Angela Merkel 801 previously this month”.
Lada Stipic-Nisiteo: “The Finish skipper for EU candidates”. Privredni vjesnik, 5 May 2008. 799 Stojan de Prato: “EU has watered down the Union of the Mediterranean States”. Večernji list, 25 May 2008. 800 Jurica Korbler: “The lady diplomat with complete proficiency and vision”. Vjesnik, 26 and 27 April 2008. 801 Zeljko Trkanjac: “Sarkozy does not want to have Tony Blair as the president of Europe”., Jutarnji list, 8 May 2008
798

The academic discussions on the future EU political leadership are in Croatia sometimes associated with the discussion of so called ‘democratic deficit’ in EU. “After the victory of neo-liberal concept in 1989 which has been associated with the American type of market fundamentalism, the EU identity and the tradition of social state, can be saved or preserved only by some new political strong leader or father figure, as was for instance Bismarck at one time. Such a person would be the most reliable guardian against the rise of populist movements or any development of this kind”. And it has been also said that: “The bureaucratization of EU is the main manifestation of democratic deficit, which is very damaging for the development of global 802 democracy.”

Political leadership in the EU

Cyprus ∗
(Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies)

Balancing between small and large members The EU’s political leadership was not an issue discussed in depth within the circles of the Cypriot political elite. Nevertheless, some politicians, on several occasions, expressed their concerns regarding the space granted by the European structures to personalities from small member states to claim the Union’s leadership. Moreover, they commented that the current balance between the small and the large member states would be perhaps 803 affected if the Lisbon Treaty is implemented. In addition, diplomats of the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs conveyed to us that small member states like Cyprus fear that larger states will try to impose some sort of directorate, which will allow the passing of many EU policies without their involvement. 804 On the other hand, they pointed out that the EU needs accountable and effective political leadership more than ever, because the advanced economic integration within Europe
Zoltán Balász, Institute of Sociology at Pazmany Peter Catholic University, Budapest, at the international conference “EU and global democracy”, organized by th th Centre for Political Research, Zagreb, on 28 and 29 of May, 2008. ∗ Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies. 803 Interviews conducted by Christos Xenophontos with sources from Cypriot political parties, May-June 2008. 804 Interviews conducted by Christos Xenophontos, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 2008.
802

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and the global economic and security challenges do require effective common policy responses. 805 Small members are capable of playing a leading role They also added that some of the most successful EU-presidencies until now were chaired by middle and small member states. In response to our question who or which group of states could be more capable of playing a leading role, they stated that because the EU political leadership would be also engaging in issues like advanced economic integration within Europe, the countries which use the Euro and have a clear European orientation towards the European Union’s overall policies 806 should have a priority. High ranking diplomats also pointed out that all member states have personalities that are capable of playing a leading role in the EU, indicating that such personalities as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, and Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, have all played, from different positions, significant roles in Europe and they are all capable of playing a leading role in a future, and more integrated, European 807 Union. Cypriot political analysts reported during a televised debate at the “Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation” in May 2008, that a vast majority of European citizens consider the EU as a bureaucratic machine, incapable of solving urgent European problems, and as unaccountable to the public. 808 During the discussion, the analysts advocated that reinforcing political leadership calls for a holistic reform reflecting the complexity of the institutional setting – including the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament. 809 They added that the European Council might be capable of playing a leading role in the future, admitting at the same time that the European Council failed to provide the EU with strong leadership (i.e. set the agenda of European politics and promote plans for the
Ibid. 806 Ibid. 807 Ibid. 808 Televised debate at the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation “CyBC” on the occasion of Europe Day, 08/05/2008. 809 Ibid.
805

future) as it was indicated in the Maastricht Treaty. The current rotation system for the EU’s presidency created a lack of continuity in the agenda-setting process. Moreover, the summit agendas are burdened with many details and each country that has the EUpresidency uses selective means to address particular topics. This made the Council insufficient to its overall task and to the current European demands. Consequently, the EU undoubtedly needs to reform its institutions, especially the Council and its working mechanisms, in order to restore political leadership, speeding up at the same time its decision-making procedures and gaining more 810 legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. In view of the fact that the Lisbon Treaty has been put into question, and given the still limited comprehension of this treaty by the Cypriot people, the “Cyprus Institute of Mediterranean, European and International Studies” has embarked on a series of contacts with opinion-makers and members of the Cypriot political elite, in order to review the current state of affairs, analyse possible implications, and formulate relevant recommendations.

Political leadership in the EU

Czech Republic

∗

(Institute of International Relations)

The President of the European Council as a moderator The view of the government is that the President of the European Council should serve rather as a moderator than as political leader. Therefore this new office should not change the balance of power between European institutions and the member states. 811 This is reflecting the view of the biggest party in the coalition, the Civic Democrats (ODS), who prefer to view the EU in terms of intergovernmental cooperation. The Czech government also emphasises the principle of equality of EU member states, which therefore suggests a leading role of the

810 ∗

Ibid. Institute of International Relations. Alexandr Vonda: Speech at the Conference “Visegrad Group and the Czech EU-Presidency”, Prague 5 June 2008, available at: http://www.alexandrvondra.cz/?item=visegrad-group-andthe-czech-eu-presidency&category=projevy (last access: 14 July 2008).
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rotating presidency in the future as well. 812 Given the differences in the general view of European integration between the biggest parties in the governing coalition, the Civic Democratic Party (reluctant), and the two smaller parties, the Christian Democrats (KDUČSL) and the Greens (both pro European), the government’s line tends to favour stability and not reform. Therefore, from this perspective the question is whether or not the EU needs strong leadership at all. Furthermore, more debate in the public on the question of future leadership of Europe as well as the question of the deeper implications of the Lisbon Treaty, have both been overshadowed by concerns regarding what the new treaty will mean for the Czech Council Presidency during the first half of 2009. The smaller parties in the governing coalition, the Greens and the Christian Democrats, as well as the Social Democrats and Communists in opposition all would prefer the European Parliament to play an increased role in general. According to them, this would be one way to solve the EU’s democratic deficit. In the Czech Republic there is a consensus on the point that the national parliaments should be more institutionally anchored into the EU decisionmaking process, and that the Lisbon Treaty provides a step in the right direction, even if 813 some would have preferred to go further. The Czech political elite are split on almost all issues relating to European integration, with one exception being the call for equal treatment of new EU members. Therefore, there might be a consensus regarding the desirability of the new member states being represented at any of the new positions: the President of the European Council, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, or as the President of the 814 European Commission.
812

Political leadership in the EU

Denmark ∗
(Danish Institute for International Studies)

Rasmussen for President? The new institutional framework in the Lisbon Treaty has been both heralded for its supposed efficiency and criticised for its supposed lack of democratic influence. 815 In general the treaty is seen as a necessary compromise. In relation to political leadership in the EU, it is widely thought in Denmark that Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen would like the position as President of the European Council if he can gain the necessary support. Alongside Rasmussen, Britain’s Tony Blair and Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg are thought to be favourites for the job. Yet many, including the “BBC”, estimate Rasmussen to 816 be a favourite for the job. The Prime Minister himself, however, has not formally announced his candidature. 817 Rasmussen’s chances of beating his competitors are related to his ability to remove the Danish opt-outs. The Euro opt-out is of special concern in this regard as the French Secretary of State for Europe, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, has declared that the President of the European Council should be from a country that participates fully in EU’s economic coThe speculations about operation. 818 Rasmussen have received much attention in Denmark. But this is more due to domestic speculations about the implications for Danish domestic politics ‘after Prime Minister Rasmussen’ than to the concerns and expectations about what is going to happen at the European level after the possible introduction of a new political leadership structure in the EU.

Pozice vlády České republiky v rámci jednání o institucionální reformě Evropské unie (Position of the government of the Czech Republic regarding the negotiations on the institutional reforms of the EU), available at: http://www.vlada.cz/assets/cs/eu/dokumenty/Pozice_vlady _CR-_final_25.4.pdf (last access: 14 July 2008). 813 Interview at the government’s office, 17 October 2007; see also Mats Braun: Institucionální otázky (Institutional Questions), in: Jan Karlas et. al.: Jak předsedat Evropské unii? Návrh priorit předsednictví ČR v Radě EU v roce 2009 (How to chair the European Union? Proposed priorities of the Czech Presidency of the EU Council in 2009), Prague 2008, pp. 33-48. 814 Alexandr Vonda: Speech at the Conference “Visegrad Group and the Czech EU-Presidency”, Prague 5 June 2008, available at: http://www.alexandrvondra.cz/?item=visegrad-group-and-

the-czech-eu-presidency&category=projevy (last access: 14 July 2008). ∗ Danish Institute for International Studies. 815 Information: Lissabon-traktaten er skadelig for Europa, 18 January 2008, available at: http://www.information.dk/153350 (last access: 30 June 2008). 816 BBC: A ’George Washington’ for Europe, 1 May 2008, available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7371840.stm (last access: 27 June 2008). 817 Politiken: Fogh: Jeg er ikke ‚kandidat’ til toppost, 7 May 2008, available at.: http://politiken.dk/politik/article505104.ece (last access: 27 June 2008). 818 Information: EU-afstemning afgør Foghs chance for EUpost, 6 March 2008, available under: http://www.information.dk/155983 (last access: 27 June 2008).

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Political leadership in the EU

Political leadership in the EU

Estonia ∗
(University of Tartu)

Finland ∗
(EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs)

Too early to talk about names According to the government’s position paper for the European Council meeting of June 19th and 20th 2008, the most important consideration regarding the new institutional setup is to ensure political, geographic and demographic balance between the member states. Taking into account that the first nominations to the high posts such as President of the European Council will create a precedent for the future, the discussion about the high posts should begin with clarifying the profiles of these posts, not with the names of the candidates. 819 With the creation of new institutions, the role of the country presiding over the Council should not be diminished. The head of government of the presiding member states should continue to have significant responsibilities. 820 In the media, there has been little ‘indigenous’ discussion about the merits of the potential candidates for the high posts. Media coverage of the topic has been largely informative, briefing the Estonian public about debates going on elsewhere. This relative lack of engagement may reflect the view that such discussion is premature (the Lisbon Treaty has not taken effect) as well as the realization that Estonian opinions will not matter that much. However, it can be anticipated that once elections to these posts gets underway, the Estonian media will evaluate prospective candidates according to three main criteria, including demonstrated understanding of the Baltic states, clarity regarding the ‘true nature’ of Russia, and possibly, the quality of the candidates’ transatlantic relationships. On this scale, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Tony Blair or Carl Bildt would all score quite high.

Key roles of the institutions to be specified before the treaty comes into force The events around the ratification and the possible implementation of the Lisbon Treaty have proceeded in two different forums simultaneously. On the one hand, the content of the treaty has been discussed and ratified in the Finnish parliament, the “Eduskunta”. On the other hand, the Finnish government has already started to take steps to prepare for the eventual implementation of the treaty. The Lisbon Treaty was ratified by the th “Eduskunta” on June 11 2008 with 157 votes for and 27 against. By comparison one may note that when Finland ratified the Constitutional Treaty in December 2006 the votes were then 125 – to 39. Despite the fairly speedy progress of ratification on this occasion, the process was contested. The Left Alliance, True Finns and the Christian Democrats accused the Finnish government of trying to pass the new treaty with a minimum of public debate, even accusing the state-owned public broadcasting company “YLE” of neglecting its duties in not arranging a single public debate about the issue in the run up to 821 the parliamentary vote. Regardless of the possible problems in ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, the Finnish government has already started to take steps with a view to the eventual implementation of the treaty. On Friday, 9th of May, the Cabinet Committee on EU Affairs discussed Finland’s position on the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. 822 Discussion focused on key questions relating to EU institutions. Finland’s opinion is that the key roles of the institutions and division of duties between them must be specified before the entry into force of the treaty. In regards to the document, Finland is of the opinion that the permanent President of the European Council must act as a consensusEUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs. 821 Arto Astikainen: Oppositio syytti hallitusta Lissabonin th sopimuksen pimittämisestä, Helsingin Sanomat, 11 of June 2008, p. A6. 822 See Finland’s position on the institutional questions of the new EU treaty, available under: http://www.vnk.fi/ajankohtaista/tiedotteet/tiedote/en.jsp?oid th =228629 (last access: 16 of June 2008).
∗

University of Tartu. State Chancellery of Estonia: Informatsioon ja Eesti seisukohad Euroopa Ülemkogu kohtumiseks 19.-20. juunil 2008, available under: http://www.riigikantselei.ee (last st access: 1 of September 2008). 820 Ibid.
819

∗

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seeking chairman instead of a president pursuing a separate policy. The permanent president must work in close cooperation with the rotating presidency and the European Commission. Finland considers it important that the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy be given a strong role. In implementing the Common Foreign and Security Policy, he or she is to act under the mandate of the Council. At the level of the heads of state or government, the President of the European Commission must, also in the future, have a significant role in representing the European Union in external relations. Also, Finland considers that the rotating presidency must continue to have a role at all EU levels, including at the level of the heads of state or government. Finland supports the idea that, at European Council meetings, the heads of state or government would present the matters that have been prepared in the Council under chairmanship of his/her government. The role of the rotating presidency has significance to the member states, their citizens’ sense of commitment and ownership, as well as to the Union’s legitimacy. Finland considers it important that consistency in the Council’s work is ensured and openness promoted in the activities of all EU institutions. Finland also considers that the matters to be discussed by the European Council must be duly prepared by the General Affairs Council. The rotation of commissioners must be based on equal turns between the member states even in the case of a reduction of the number of commissioners. Finland honours the principle of absolute equality of member states. Finally, Finland will increase contacts with the European Parliament, as it will gain more influence with the new treaty.

European Council, of its president for a term of two and a half years. This perspective is generally well accepted in France as a good way of improving political integration. However, some French experts and (former) political actors at the EU level raise issues related to the selection process of the people to fill these roles. Alain Lamassoure, a French MEP, supports this provision, but insists on the question of legitimacy. 823 According to him, if we want the new President of the European Council to be legitimate and respected, his designation should be a transparent, open and formal process. Since we cannot imagine a direct election, Alain Lamassoure proposed a kind of campaign that would require the candidate to make his/her project clear. Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing adopts a similar point of view. He considers that this designation should be given democratic features in order to take public opinion expectations into account. According to him, we have to keep in mind the example of the first U.S. 824 President, George Washington. The economic newspaper “Les Echos” recently tackled this debate, posing the question of what is lacking in the EU to make it work efficiently. 825 Analysing the reforms proposed in the ‘simplified treaty’, the author states with irony that it could make governance even more complicated. A permanent elected President of the European Council could provide continuity and representation but will enjoy less democratic legitimacy than the President of the European Commission, if the latter gets the approval of the European Parliament. Highlighting the role of other important institutions or figures (the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the president of the European Central Bank, the president of Eurogroup, and the head of state or government occupying the still remaining post of rotating president who organises the Council of Ministers) the article concludes that this odd power structure illustrates the tensions and bargaining between EU institutions and member states. Consequently, the success of this institutional reform relies, according to the newspaper, on the ability and charisma of the people who take up the posts.

Political leadership in the EU

France ∗
(Centre européen de Sciences Po)

Choice of political figures dominates the debate on institutional reforms Debate on political leadership – raising the issue of legitimacy Following the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, some provisions expected to shape political leadership in the EU have been highly debated in France, especially the ones relating to the election, by the
∗

Centre européen de Sciences Po.

Interview of Alain Lamassoure for Cercle des Européens, 06/06/08, available under: http://ceuropeens.org/Alain-Lamassoure.html (last access: 29/08/2008). 824 Valéry Giscard d’Estaing: Election du Président du Conseil européen: quelle procédure préalable?, 07/02/08, available under: http://vge-europe.eu (last access: 29/08/2008). 825 Les Echos: Une Europe à six têtes, 14/05/2008.

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Choosing the preferences

people

–

Changing

The French media focused on the debate about the choice of people who could hold these functions. President Nicolas Sarkozy, and his political majority, first made it clear they would support Tony Blair as President of the European Council. Considering him as ‘the most European Englishman’ 826, Blair was invited to a meeting of the conservative party (UMP 827) during the campaign for the municipal elections in March 2008. Various political figures were critical of this approach. Former Prime Minister Édouard Balladur published an opinion column in “Le Monde” entitled “Tony Blair cannot be European President”. Because his country does not participate in all European cooperation processes (especially the Euro), and because he seems too close to the United States, Tony Blair “cannot be”, according to Édouard Balladur, “the symbol of an 828 EU that wants to come into existence”. Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing assumed the same position. If he saw in this reform the “encouraging sign of an awareness of historical and political importance of choosing a president”, 829 he joined Édouard Balladur in rejecting the candidature of Tony Blair. 830 French Socialists also criticised Blair’s relations with the United States, and consider as not acceptable that the first President of the European Council should be a man who supported war in Iraq and participated in it. 831 Reacting to these criticisms, the government and the French President seem to have changed their mind. The Secretary of State for European Affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, assumed that the President of the European Council should come from a country within the eurozone. 832 As a consequence, JeanClaude Juncker was more recently presented as the preferred candidate from the French perspective. According to an article published in “Le Figaro”, the French Presidency would also support José Manuel Barroso for a second mandate at the European Commission, whereas
Le Monde, 25/01/08. Union pour un mouvement populaire. 828 Édouard Balladur: Tony Blair ne peut être le président de l’Europe, Le Monde, 17/01/2008. 829 Impressions de Bruxelles, 20/05/2008, available udner: http://vge-europe.eu (last access: 29/08/2008). 830 Le Figaro: Giscard ne veut pas de Blair comme président de l’UE,16/01/2008. 831 Assemblée nationale: Compte-rendu des débats, séance du 06/02/2008, available under: http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/13/cra/20072008/118.asp (last access: 29/08/2008). 832 Reuters, 12/02/2008.
827 826

the function of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy could be allocated to a socialist, but not to Javier Solana. 833 With regard to all these nominations, Jean-Pierre Jouyet underlines the need for renewal and calls for new personalities in these top positions. 834

Political leadership in the EU

Germany

∗

(Institute for European Politics)

Political leadership not widely discussed in Germany The Lisbon Treaty in general enjoyed wide support in Germany. 835 Specific provisions, like the new institutional provisions for a permanent President of the European Council or the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, were mentioned as examples of the EU’s improved efficiency, coherence and capacity to act. 836 While German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that those new posts, like the one of the President of the European Council and its
Le Figaro, 05/05/2008. Le Monde, 31/02/2008. ∗ Institute for European Politics. 835 For further details see Max Bornefeld-Ettmann/GesaStefanie Brincker/Daniel Göler/Marcus Delacor/Peter Kuffel/Tanja Leppik/Barbara Lippert/Sammi Sandawi: Report on Germany, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (Ed.): EU-25/27 Watch, No. 5, September 2007, Berlin, pp37-41, available at: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-25_27_Watch_No_5.pdf (last access: 8 August 2008); Marcus Delacor/Tanja Leppik/Barbara Lippert/Matti Roscher/Anne Schmidt/Barbara Schumacher: Report on Germany, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (ed.): EU-27 Watch, No. 6, March 2008, Berlin, pp. 36-39, available at: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-27_Watch_No_6.pdf (last access: 8 August 2008). 836 Cf., for instance, speech by Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the German Parliament (“Deutscher Bundestag”) on 11 October 2007 about the „Regierungskonferenz zur Änderung der vertraglichen Grundlagen der Europäischen Union“, in: Bulletin der Bundesregierung, Nr. 105-2, 11 October 2007, p. 3, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Bulletin/2007/ 10/Anlagen/105-2-bmaa,property=publicationFile.pdf (last access: 8 August 2008); German Foreign Ministry (“Auswärtiges Amt”): Denkschrift zum Vertrag von Lissabon vom 13. Dezember 2007, AS-RK 2007, 11 December 2007, p. 4, available at: http://www.auswaertigesamt.de/diplo/de/Europa/Downloads/Denkschriftlissabon.pdf (last access: 8 August 2008); or Bundestagsfraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen: Der Vertrag von Lissabon. Für eine transparentere, demokratischere und handlungsfähigere EU, 24 April 2008, available at: http://www.gruenebundestag.de/cms/archiv/dok/209/209547.der_vertrag_von _lissabon.pdf (last access: 8 August 2008).
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relations with the EU-presidency, raise new and interesting questions that have yet to be solved, 837 and several scholars discussed potential implications of the new permanent President of the European Council and the question of political leadership in the EU in general, 838 there has not been much public discussion about those topics in Germany so far. Especially after the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, the debate has been dominated by the future of the Lisbon Treaty itself, rather than by some of its specific provisions. 839 It can be assumed though, that the discussion about the new EU top positions, the conceptualisation of the specific responsibilities and tasks of these posts, and potential candidates continues within government circles. For example, as pointed out in chapter 2, the German Foreign Ministry (“Auswärtiges Amt”) is currently involved in the
Speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the German parliament (“Deutscher Bundestag”) on 24 April 2008 about the Lisbon Treaty, in: Bulletin der Bundesregierung, Nr. 37-1, 24 April 2008, p. 5, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Bulletin/2008/ 04/Anlagen/37-1-bkin,property=publicationFile.pdf (last access: 8 August 2008); see also: Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/157, available at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/16/16157.pdf (last access: 8 August 2008). 838 Cf., for example, Andreas Maurer: Der Vertrag von Lissabon: Anreize für eine demokratischere und handlungsfähigere Europäische Union. Gutachterliche Stellungnahme für die Anhörung des Ausschusses für die Angelegenheiten der Europäischen Union, Berlin, 10. März 2008, Diskussionspapier der FG 1 2008/08, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, available at: http://www.swpberlin.org/common/get_document.php?asset_id=4872 (last access: 8 August 2008). Dominik Hierlemann: Presidential Poker, spotlight Europe 2008/03, March 2008, Bertelsmann Stiftung, available at: http://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/cps/rde/xbcr/SID0A000F0ADC2E6D28/bst/Spotlight_eng_03_2008_PresidentialPoker .pdf (last access: 8 August 2008). Bertelsmann Stiftung: Political Leadership in the European Union. Results of a representative survey in EU member states. Survey period: May/June 2007 collected by TNS Emnid. Number of respondents: 13.840. Contact persons: Armando Garcia Schmidt/Dr. Dominik Hierlemann, available at: http://www.bertelsmannstiftung.de/bst/en/media/xcms_bst_dms_21702_21703_2. pdf (last access: 8 August 2008). Dominik Hierlemann/Armando García Schmidt: Mehr politische Führung wagen, spotlight europe 2007/04, July 2007, Bertelsmann Stiftung/Centrum für angewandte Politikforschung, available at: http://www.cap.lmu.de/download/spotlight/Spotlight_2007_ 04_de.pdf (last access: 8 August 2008). Eckhard Lübkemeier: Führung ist wie Liebe. Warum Mit-Führung in Europa notwendig ist und wer sie leisten kann, SWPStudie 2007/S 30, available at: http://www.swpberlin.org/common/get_document.php?asset_id=4452 (last access: 8 August 2008). 839 See “Pressing on with ratification: The German reaction to the Irish ‘No’”, pp. 36ff. in this issue of EU-27 Watch.
837

planning of the European External Action Service (EEAS). 840

Political leadership in the EU

Greece ∗
(Greek Centre of European Studies and Research)

Greeks deplore lack of ‘European leadership’ In a background of overall low interest of public opinion over institutional issues, the issue of leadership still raises some emotion, in Greece the media often deplore the lack of ‘European leadership,’ comparing the present to the Delors/Mitterrand/Kohl era, or even to the Chirac/Schroeder/Blair years. Much interest has been shown to the French President’s positioning, while also Angela Merkel received quite a lot of attention. ‘European’/‘Brussels’ potentates, such a José Manuel Barroso and Javier Solana are viewed with reticence, if not kept in outright low esteem: in fact, they are almost seen as the opposite to leadership. E.g. Jean-Claude Juncker as a potential President of the European Council (although a close friend of Greece) is considered as too shallow. The ‘Tony Blair solution’ was viewed more positively, but then lost its appeal quite some time ago. Although seen with doubts by many – and, even, the object of derision by some – the candidacy of the former Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis keeps creeping up. His recent high-intensity fight with current leader of “PASOK” George A. Papandreou over Europe was widely (although rather unjustly) interpreted as Simitis’ effort to show his high credentials of ‘European-ness’. Most recently, the new institutional crisis generated by the Irish ‘No’ is considered by some as putting the European political leadership before critical dilemmas. Its capacity to answer them in a visionary political manner (not a self-evident capacity nowadays) could characterise the future of the whole 841 integration process.

“The German debate about the French EU-Presidency priorities”, p. 93 in this issue of EU-27 Watch. ∗ Greek Centre of European Studies and Research. 841 P.C.Ioakimidis, in the pro-“PASOK” magazine METARRYTHMISI, June-July 2008.

840

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Political leadership in the EU

Hungary ∗
(Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

Core groups shall improve efficiency If, in the 21st century the EU wants to become a leading power in the world (with a weight corresponding to its economic performance) the further political deepening and a clear political leadership are indispensable. 842 In the new century the speed of decision-making became a factor of global competitiveness and the importance of time is growing. Thus a European Union of 27+ may lose competitiveness without a clear political leadership ensuring fast decision-making. In this respect the novelties of the Lisbon Treaty are highly valuable, nevertheless, they might also spark competence conflicts. Such conflicts would significantly hamper the European Union’s capacities for quick and effective action. The key to the future is not a new constitutional/institutional reform – the pledge of future success lies with the member states and their actual willingness to act together in a concerted way, with one voice and with integrated capacities in the world. If this approach is not fully shared by all member states, core groups might be formed by those willing to really pool sovereignty in the fields where the global processes ‘force’ us to do so. Such fields are for example migration, Common Foreign and Security Policy, as well as defence policy, energy, climate and environment. Since efficient decision-making cannot happen in the old intergovernmental way, the ‘voluntary’ core groups should be able to take the lead and pursue deepening and joint actions in these fields. Such a core group (or several core groups) would mean a qualitatively new structure of European integration, different from the concept of a “Europe of multiple speeds”. The core group could mean a new forum, whereby member states would not only represent their national interests but would primarily work for the European Union’s interests in the global arena (according to their ‘enlightened self-interest’). The core group(s) should be formed in a bottom-up way, should be open to all other member states, and would not allow the dominance of any member states in it. Such a
Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The answer given here is based on an interview with Prof. András Inotai, director of the Institute for World Economics.
842 ∗

development of the EU would primarily concentrate on deepening, but would not exclude the widening aspect. The core grouptype development however should not lead to the fragmentation of the EU, on the contrary, this could even lead to the model proposed by Joschka Fischer in 2000 (namely the ‘refoundation’ of Europe by the pioneer states, in a federal style). All in all, the realisation of such a development is more probable if the Lisbon Treaty does not enter into force (in this case it might even become a ‘must’). In Hungary these issues are not the subject of day-to-day public debate, but might become more salient during the election of the European Parliament next year, or in connection with the 2010-2011 presidency activities.

Political leadership in the EU

Ireland

∗

(Institute of International and European Affairs)

Leadership debate is victim of the referendum campaign The debate in Ireland on the Treaty of Lisbon resulted in a campaign-oriented appreciation of the European Union’s proposed new institutional structure, rather than a policybased analysis. For example, campaign group “Libertas” stated during the campaign that the Lisbon Treaty would create an “unelected and unaccountable” President of the European Council, whereas Minister of State for European Affairs, Dick Roche, countered that the office would be comparable to the role of the “Cathaoirleach” (Irish for ‘chairperson’) in the Irish political system, and would not be a ‘president’ in the same sense as, for instance, the US President. The ‘No’ side of the debate in Ireland frequently referred to perceived weakening of Ireland’s role within the European Union. Sinn Féin highlighted a statistical weakening of voting weights in the Council and stated that Ireland would “loose its veto” in more than 100 policy areas. The proposal to reduce the size of the European Commission was received in Ireland in a similar negative vein by the ‘No’ camp, with “Libertas” stating that Ireland would “loose its voice at the most important table in 843 the EU” for five years out of every fifteen.
Institute of International and European Affairs. See: http://www.libertas.org/content/view/196/116/ (last access: 22 September 2008).
843 ∗

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The overall perception of such institutional reforms was a weakening of Ireland’s place within the European Union. This fear, coupled with remarks from various political leaders in other member states as to Ireland’s relative size in the European Union, proved to be a strong message in the referendum campaign.

has become a scarce resource in Europe where national governments prefer to confer European posts on minor national representatives and do not take the risk of eroding their domestic consensus for the European cause” 847. In order to find a solution to this ‘leadership deficit’, Mario Mauro, Vice-President of the European Parliament, stated that the SarkozyMerkel duo, especially after the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty, cannot be considered an appropriate answer, as was suggested earlier. In his opinion, Italy could play a leading role in Europe, since it has proved itself to be ‘the most Europeanist’ of all. Moreover, the highest offices of state, President Napolitano and Prime Minister Berlusconi, have converging 848 In Mario Mauro’s view, ideas on Europe. following a suggestion made some time ago by Tony Blair, the only way to build new leadership for the EU is to invest more in human capital, that means improving the programs addressing young people in order to find strong ideas and people that really believe in the European project. 849 The newspaper “Corriere della Sera” recently reprinted an article published in “Libération”, which listed the 36 personalities that represent the future of the EU. Among the names mentioned were those of John Elkann, vicepresident of FIAT, and Enrico Letta, Assistant Minister of Welfare, who has been defined an “iron Europeanist”. 850 Some hypotheses on possible future candidates for the highest European offices have recently been reported by the Italian press. For the President of the European Council, some expect a race between the Danish and the Luxemburgese Prime Ministers, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and JeanClaude Juncker, while most think that Javier Solana will be reappointed to the role of High
Il Sole 24 ore: Il problema non è l’Europa ma l’assenza th di leader europei, 27 of July 2008, available under: http://85.116.228.24/Stampa/utility/imgrs.asp?numart=ITE ZC&numpag=1&tipcod=0&tipimm=0&defimm=1&tipnav=1 th &isjpg=S (last access: 28 of August 2008). 848 Corriere della Sera: Avanti tutti insieme o non ce la nd faremo a competere domani, 22 of June 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IHKSJ (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 849 Ibid. 850 Corriere della Sera: Le 36 personalità che faranno st l’Unione di domani, 1 of July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IKHO2 (last th access: 28 of August 2008).
847

Political leadership in the EU

Italy

∗

(Istituto Affari Internazionali)

“Leadership has become a scarce resource in Europe” After the Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty, there has been a heated debate in Italy on the future of the EU and on the solution to the current stalemate. Many proposals have been made on how to change the current leadership in order to develop greater support among the people for European institutions. According to Norbert Walter, director of the “Deutsche Bank Research”, recently stated in an article published in the Italian newspaper “Il sole 24 ore”, that European integration has 844 been left as an “orphan” . Publishing such an article in one of the most widely read Italian newspapers attests to the importance that the debate on the future of European leadership has in our country. Walter affirms that the new generation of politicians, businessmen and intellectuals does not feel any tie to the European Union and its values and that this is why Europe is not able to have an impact on its citizens and in its external geostrategic relations. 845 Part of the Italian business community also shares this view. In an interview recently published in “Corriere della sera”, Alessandro Profumo, head of “Unicredit Bank”, stated that in Europe “strong personalities capable of drawing consent are lacking” and that we do not have “leaders that are willing to commit themselves to the European project”. 846 Former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato shares this view. In his opinion, “leadership
Istituto Affari Internazionali. th Il sole 24 ore: Un modello svizzera per l’UE, 29 of June 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IJYZJ (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 845 Ibid. 846 Corriere della Sera: Servono nuovi leader per rilanciare th l’Unione, 20 of June 2008, available under: http://85.116.228.24/Stampa/Rassegna/rassegna.asp (last th access: 28 of August 2008).
844 ∗

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Representative. 851 With respect to the President of the European Commission, the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has recently declared that he will support José Manuel Barroso for a second mandate in office, affirming that “it would be absurd to throw away his intelligence and experience” 852. In general terms, European leadership itself is both the cause and the solution to the stalemate resulting from the Irish referendum. In an interview given to an Italian newspaper, Hans Eichel, former German Finance Minister, suggested that direct election of the President of the European Commission could be the best way to make the European project more attractive to citizens. By introducing this change, he believes that the position would be given a very strong symbolic significance and that, at the same time, the entire EU would gain greater consent from the people. In his opinion, there are many potential candidates who would be suitable for this appointment, including our former President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and our current President, Giorgio 853 This view is shared by the Napolitano. Italian Minister for Communitarian Policies, Andrea Ronchi, who has spoken out in favour of a democratic relaunch of European integration also through direct election of the President of the European Commission. 854 The debate on the future leadership of the EU is very relevant in Italy, not only among politicians, but also in the business community and the media. The fact that Italian journalists have interviews with many national and international personalities on this topic and that foreign articles have been reported on in the national press shows that we pay great attention to this matter.
Panorama: Unione Europea: il valzer di poltrone th scatena le diplomazie europee, 8 of May 2008, available under: http://blog.panorama.it/mondo/2008/05/08/ue-chidopo-barroso-il-valzer-di-poltrone-scatena-le-diplomazieth europee/ (last access: 28 of August 2008). 852 Corriere della Sera: Il Cavaliere “ricandida” il th Portoghese, 16 of July 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IPMPB (last th access: 28 of August.) 853 Il Messaggero: Eichel: elezione diretta per la st Commissione europea con Ciampi presidente, 21 of June 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IHADK (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 854 Corriere della Sera: Elezione diretta di Presidente e th Commissione UE, 18 of June 2008, available under: http://rassegna.camera.it/chiosco_new/pagweb/immagineF rame.asp?comeFrom=search¤tArticle=IG1PB (last th access: 28 of August 2008).
851

From this overview, it may be noted that the main concern today is that leadership is lacking at a critical time for international relations. Everyone, from the business to the political world, feels that the EU’s role in the world has to be reshaped by renewing its leadership in order to be able to compete, and sometimes survive in the new international equilibriums. Expectations in this sense are diverse and mostly concern the desire for a fresh new leading class, in which Italian personalities are expected to play an important role.

Political leadership in the EU

Latvia

∗

(Latvian Institute of International Affairs)

Political leadership – issue of low salience There has been no public discussion in Latvia on the political leadership in the European Union in the context of the changes stipulated in the Lisbon Treaty, either before or after the Latvian parliament (“Saeima”) endorsed the document. This has been a clearly lowsalience topic both among politicians, government officials, and political scientists. Given the importance of other issues that preoccupy the Latvians, it seems unlikely that they will devote any serious attention to these issues until the treaty ratification process is completed in all the member states and the results have been analysed.

Political leadership in the EU

Lithuania

∗

(Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University)

Germany and France take the lead Political leadership in the EU is not a very high salience issue in Lithuania; therefore there are only a few remarks in the media on this subject. For example, as a Vilnius University professor, Jonas Čičinskas claims, the spring European Council confirmed that the course of economical and political EU integration is actually not difficult to foresee, as it will continue to be determined by bilateral agreements by Germany and France, with little modification caused by the interference of the United Kingdom. And no matter how the Chancellors and Presidents of Germany and
∗ ∗

Latvian Institute of International Affairs. Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University.

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France would change, there are no alternatives for the strategic EU partnership. 855 Another political scientist, Arūnas Molis also writes that formally all the EU member states are equal and all have a right to the EU presidency. Nevertheless, the small EU member states apparently lack the capacity to implement these duties. It is France and Germany which, taking into consideration the interests of Great Britain, set the EU agenda and implement the external EU policy. This is nor surprising nor frightening – the two biggest EU member states have most instruments to formulate and 856 implement ‘common’ European interests. Is there a leadership problem? There are remarks in the Lithuanian media that currently the EU is facing a serious leadership problem. As a well-known journalist Audrius Bačiulis writes “Europe has been coming across this problem already for some time when such powerful politicians as Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl or François Mitterrand have left politics. The political leaders of the biggest European states during the last decade were much weaker and solved much smaller problems than the essential economic reform or building a united Europe compared to their 857 forerunners.

party in Luxembourg (34 percent of the voters’ sympathies). 859 The CSV remains the party most likely to lead the next government. The Socialist Party (LSAP 860), the CSV junior partner in the government, drifts well behind, remaining the second largest, gaining around 15 percent. More good news for the CSV was received in another “Tageblatt” interview in which the Prime Minister ruled out that he was going to be a candidate for a top European job in the near future. “I’m not interested in either the post of president of the European Commission 861 or of the Central Bank” . He said he had been offered the job of President of the European Commission six years ago, and he had not wanted to break an election promise to the Luxembourg electorate. There had been speculation in the past that the Prime Minister would be an ideal candidate for the post of the president of the European Central Bank (ECB) – especially when the President elect JeanClaude Trichet was linked to the Crédit Lyonnais banking scandal in France, while he waited for the ECB’s first president Wim Duisenberg to stand down as agreed when the 862 bank was first established. The only job Juncker may have been interested in taking up was that of the first permanent President of the European Council. 863 It has been put on hold following the Irish voters’ rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon in June. At the most recent congress of his party, Juncker confirmed his intention to be a candidate for his own succession. 864 At this moment it seems clear that Juncker is not going to leave the national political arena to become President of the European Council. Up until the Irish referendum, the electoral strategies of the Luxembourg political parties were focused on the results of Juncker’s decision. When asked by journalists if he would be leading the CSV at the 2009 election, Juncker was able to answer with his usual dry 865 humour. “That is the most likely possibility”.

Political leadership in the EU

Luxembourg

∗

(Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman)

Speculations about Juncker’s future plans A year before national and European elections, recent opinion polls sponsored by the socialist newspaper “Tageblatt” confirm that Prime Minister Juncker’s party, the ChristianDemocrat CSV 858, remains the most popular
Jonas Čičinskas: Ar mokate prognozuoti Europos Sąjungos raidą? (Do you know how to forecast the development of the European Union?), Internet news th portal Balsas, March 20 , 2008, available under: http://www.balsas.lt/naujiena/188014 (last access: August th 28 , 2008). 856 Arūnas Molis: Kurios šalys turi didžiausią įtaką Europos Sąjungoje (Which countries have the biggest influence in rd the European Union), Weekly Veidas, March 3 , 2008. 857 Audrius Bačiulis: Europa – lyderystės krizė ir energetinis spaudimas (Europe – a crisis of leadership and th energetic pressure), Weekly Veidas, January 4 , 2008, available under: http://www.veidas.lt/lt/leidinys.nrfull/459cc30544f7e (last th access: August 28 , 2008). ∗ Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman. 858 Chrëschtlech Sozial Vollékspartei.
855

Revue: Mein Rückblick auf die Woche, 20.6.2008. Lëtzebuerger Sozialistesch Arbechterpartei. 861 Tageblatt: entretien exclusif avec le premier ministre sur l’avenir de l’UE et du Luxembourg, 27.6.2008. 862 Luxembourg News 252: Juncker set to stay, 3.7.2008. 863 Uli Botzler: Die Sorgen der anderen, Telecran 18.6.2008. 864 Luxemburger Wort: Partei der kleinen Leute, 17.7.2008. 865 Tageblatt: Entretien exclusif avec le premier ministre sur l’avenir de l’UE et du Luxembourg, 27.6.2008.
860

859

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Political leadership in the EU

Malta ∗
(Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta)

EU lacks leadership, but no easy solutions to this There is only a very limited debate about this. While there is a general consensus that Europe lacks leadership and requires a more robust decision-making process, there is no debate about who could assume such a responsibility. A few years into membership, Malta primarily focuses on the decisions taken by the European Commission and the European Parliament, of course focusing on the role that the Maltese representatives play in both of these institutions.

a great debate in the Netherlands on this matter, but the government has already aired some preferences about the future President of the European Council, while in the media some possible candidates have been mentioned. The Hague is well aware that the proliferation of high-ranking offices in the EU may easily lead to overlap and persistent turf disputes between the incumbents. Particularly the President of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the President of the European Commission have overlapping responsibilities, which may impede the conduct of the EU’s external relations. Moreover, the double task of both chairing the Foreign Affairs Council, and at the same time being a VicePresident of the European Commission, makes the function of the High Representative 867 extremely tough. The Dutch government wants to preserve, in any case, the right balance between the institutions, and assumes that the candidates for the various positions will reflect, in a fair way, the different interests (small-large, NorthSouth) of the member states. It is also aware of the fact that the Dutch already have a highranking official in Brussels, in the person of the Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. European Council: Technical chair instead of president The Hague has never been a strong supporter of the idea of creating a permanent Presidency 868 The European of the European Council. Council itself has always been considered as the playing ground for the big member states, and during the European Convention the Dutch representatives feared that a permanent president would upgrade the position of the European Council at the expense of the European Commission. Today, the Dutch government, supported by a majority in the parliament, holds the view that the permanent President of the European Council should primarily be a “technical chairman”, and not an outspoken political leader, in order not to upset 869 the present institutional balance.
S. Luitwieler: De ChristenUnie en het Verdrag van Lissabon, Amersfoort (Wetenschappelijk Instituut van de ChristenUnie), Kort Commentaar 14, 2008, pp. 42-3. 868 Jan Rood: Tony for European President?, Internationale Spectator, April 2008, p. 189. 869 Staat van de Europese Unie 2007-2008, Tweede Kamer, vergaderjaar 2007-2008, 31 202, No.1-2, p. 8.
867

Political leadership in the EU

Netherlands ∗
(Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’)

The Hague fears an empowered European Council The Irish ‘No’ vote of June 12th, 2008 has also put the EU-leadership question on the backburner. As long as the Lisbon Treaty cannot be implemented, the EU-27 have to resort to the relevant provisions of the Nice Treaty, which means, among other things, that both the rotating presidency of the (European) Council, as well as the size and composition of the European Commission remain a point of concern. The election of a President of the European Council is in any case not an issue for the time being. According to the Nice Treaty the size of the European Commission should be reduced in November 2009 to less than 27 members. The exact number to be determined through (unanimous) decisions by the Council. Thus, in case one could not find an early solution to the Irish question”, the Commission will be curtailed sooner than required under the Lisbon Treaty, where such a reduction is only 866 called for in 2014. But if we assume that the Treaty of Lisbon will be ratified by all member states in due time, the leadership question will undoubtedly return to the European agenda. There is certainly not
Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta. ∗ Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’. 866 See: www.euractiv.com, 19 June 2008 (last access: 26 August 2008).
∗

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Political leadership in the EU

Poland ∗
(Foundation for European Studies - European Institute)

Polish government wants to play a leading role The issue of political leadership is clearly of high salience in Poland. The new government has ambitions of playing an important (and sometimes even leading) role in the enlarged EU, commensurate with its size and growing potential. The treaty poses certain questions concerning the future of the institutional triangle that no one is ready to respond to at this very moment. Does the Lisbon Treaty really strengthen the community method? How would the relations between the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council look like? What would be the character of the new European External Action Service? Most experts agree that a lot will depend on implementation, therefore the Polish government is currently considering all of the options and no official position has yet been published. According to informal interviews the new member states, Poland included, are worried that the new Presidency format will deprive them of a chance to influence the EU agenda. The newcomers, as demonstrated recently by the Czech Republic, would be very keen on exercising a full presidency, which, in their understanding, would allow them to promote their interests more effectively. This attitude towards political leadership is dependent on the attitude towards integrations as such. Whereas “Law and Justice” generally would like for the EU to be as intergovernmental as possible, and is simultaneously afraid that enlarged EU would be dominated by the Germans and the French, the governing “Civic Platform” is much keener on strengthening the supranational institutions and much less concerned with the claim that the new treaty would strengthen the biggest member states. The current government informally holds the opinion that possible Polish candidates should be taken into account when the most important posts (President of the European Commission, President of the European Council, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the European Parliament), are being distributed, should the new treaty enter into force. There is
∗

however no clear strategy on the issue. The government realises that while the first three posts are key when it comes to decisionmaking, the post of President of the European Parliament (which could probably go to the EPP group only for two and a half years) is mostly about prestige and not about real impact. The government is also aware that if the current trends are upheld (along with its coalition partner “Polish People’s Party” the “Civic Platform” will have a chance to win as much as 30 seats in the European Parliament’s elections, which could mean that the Polish delegation would be the second or third strongest within the EPP group.

Political leadership in the EU

Portugal

∗

(Institute for Strategic and International Studies)

Leadership in the EU must be consensus building This theme was explicitly addressed by the Secretary of State of Foreign and European Affairs, who advocated a consensus building leadership in terms of the new President of the European Council should the Lisbon Treaty come into force. The need for a permanent presidency was accepted by Portugal on practical grounds of providing some continuity, but it was made clear that this is not seen as an executive position. One key concern was with preserving the role of national presidencies, and this will require some degree of joint leadership between any new President of the European Council and the Prime 870 Ministers of existing states. There is, therefore, in Portugal some ambiguity regarding these changes in EU institutions, even at the level of official discourse by those responsible for them as negotiators of the Lisbon Treaty. These changes are seen as necessary for practical reasons, in order to give more international leverage to the EU that will be much needed to deal with complex global problems. At the same time there are also some underlying concerns. Overall the official tone is positive, but it is significantly coupled with an insistence that while the EU needs more majority voting, the existing practice of rarely asking for a vote and working for consensus decisions should continue, and
Institute for Strategic and International Studies. Manuel L. Antunes: Europa: E Agora? (Official Speech by the Secretary of State of European Affairs on Europe’s Day), 09.05.2008.
870 ∗

Foundation for European Studies - European Institute.

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structured cooperation would be a last resort to avoid an impasse. There is, in other words, on the one hand the acceptance by the Portuguese government of the need for some more structured leadership coupled with the concern that there might be, in fact, a slide towards too much leadership, namely by the bigger countries within the EU and some of the new institutional actors being created by the Lisbon Treaty. In terms of broader public debate, this is also concern regarding the relative role of different countries. But these questions have perhaps been most openly discussed at the level of personalities. The existence of a Portuguese President of the European Commission has done much for the argument that the Portuguese can really have an impact in the EU, namely because they make an effort to build bridges and do not define their national interest too narrowly. Therefore the question of the continuation of José Manuel Barroso as President of the European Commission, and, also of his possible transferral to the new Presidency of the European Council, has been discussed. The President of the Portuguese Republic, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, felt it wise to make clear that he did believe Barroso should be reappointed as Commission President, and should not accept a possible offer of the new position, to be created by the Lisbon Treaty, of 871 The President of the European Council. Portuguese Government has also announced its support for the continuation of Barroso, as have in fact the Italian and French government. The European Commission, has, moreover, traditionally been seen in Portugal as an important ally of smaller and poorer member states. Therefore it is clear that there is a Portuguese hope that one of the European leaders in the future will be José Manuel Barroso as President of the European Commission and that the Commission will continue to play a major role in the EU. In terms of the role of different countries in the EU, this is a discussion that is only alluded to in official sources if at all, and is more clearly addressed by analysts and commentators. In a way, Portugal likes to think of itself as one of the big EU member states except for the small detail of its actual current size. There is an official policy of relative optimism, arguing that Portugal can make a positive contribution to EU policies. The relevance of the Lisbon
Lusa News Release: Cavaco Silva apoia continuação de Durão Barroso à frente da Comissão Europeia, 29.04.2008.
871

Agenda or the high international profile of Africa in recent years is seen as a confirmation of this. Still there is an awareness of actual size. Invariably, therefore, Portugal, while sounding positive and wanting to make a contribution for the EU to move forward, does not want to do so at the cost of a more or less permanent leadership of bigger countries. Leadership in the EU must be consensus building, it must be able to consult and aggregate countries. This makes Lisbon wary of pressing too much when spoilers emerge, like Poland or Ireland. At the same time it wants a functional EU and to play a constructive consensus building role in it. In sum Portugal hopes, that the big member states will always need at least the medium size member states to mediate between them and provide legitimacy to any decisions. In that sense Germany is often cited by political, diplomatic elites as a good example of consensus building leadership. Great-Britain, especially with Gordon Brown politically weakened internally and with no clear vision on Europe that addresses existing challenges, does not seem likely to be as much of a major player as it could be. France is seen as having lost some influence to a more consistent and economically more powerful Germany, but is now making every effort to recover, namely through the current presidency. Still, certainly at the level of analysts, there is actually the recognition that nothing will work in the EU without Germany and France working together – the axis Bonn/Paris is still essential. Britain is less and less seen as able to effectively block or influence things alone, but could potentially join the others in an informal ‘Big Three’ leadership or could act to empower other big potential 872 Spain more and more spoilers like Poland. tends to be seen as a natural ally in most EU issues and its weight in the EU is therefore seen as positive for Portugal, in spite of some remnants of the historical rivalry.

For an analysis of this see Teresa de Sousa: Os ‘três grandes’ e a História, Público, 09.04.2008.

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Political leadership in the EU

Political leadership in the EU

Romania ∗
(European Institute of Romania)

Slovakia ∗
(Slovak Foreign Policy Association)

Romania does not staff many leading positions in the EU Debates about the political leadership of the European Union tend to be more frequent and substantial in those member states harbouring aspirations of themselves playing such a role and/or having among their own nationals personalities those who might be called on to assume positions in the EU institutional structures, giving them the possibility of directly contributing to this leadership. Being one of the two most recently admitted countries in the EU and having representatives in the EU institutions (such as the European Commission and the European Parliament, in particular) who are currently not even able to serve full mandates, let alone their impossibility to have been considered for leading positions within the said institutions, Romania does not display any of the features that would render a serious debate of this topic opportune and relevant at this point in time. The range of speculations regarding the most powerful actors in a future competition for the new EU presidential position have also widely been covered by the national media interested in bringing different names into discussion (i.e. Tony Blair, Jean-Claude Juncker, Joschka Fischer, but also José Manuel Barroso, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Angela Merkel or Guy Verhofstadt). Their profiles, sometimes even biographies, their most influential and visible supporters, possible ‘pre-campaign’ details, and not extremely compatible estimations of chances of election, mostly inspired by various 873 EU-wide publications . Consequently, these innovations and drawn speculations have only been registered in a generic manner, without expressed preferences for any sort of alternative institutional arrangement and without any attempt at suggesting preferences concerning the personalities who would be best suited to assume the new or enhanced positions foreseen by the treaty.
∗

Domestic challenges of leadership in EU affairs Politicians in Slovakia are not interested in the EU beyond the nature of existing integration or the drawing of EU structural funds in Slovakia. Prime Minister Fico’s interest in the EU is arbitrary and indicates his low level of understanding of European integration when he at times blames the EU for not addressing tasks that it cannot resolve (such as the high prices of oil and foodstuffs). There was not much of discussion on leadership in the EU at the time of the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon and since the failed Irish referendum politicians have not really bothered to raise ideas about the structures or persons at the helm of the European Union. In fact, Slovakia faces its domestic challenge of leadership in EU affairs when the Office of the Government (Prime Minister’s Office) does not represent a natural leader for the formulation and coordination of Slovakia’s policy strategies in the EU. Nor is a Slovakia’s Ministerial Council for EU affairs founded on 874 an example of an December 14, 2005 institution that makes policy. Headed by the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs this Ministerial Council should provide coordination, consultation and expertise for Slovakia’s role in the EU. It should mainly help resolve conceptual issues and inter-ministerial squabbles. In practice, however, this institution has never really functioned. Internal governmental problems (such as Slovakia’s priorities for the 2003 IGC or position on the opening of EU accession talks with Turkey) were subject to last minute discussions at coalition councils behind closed doors. Ministry of Foreign Affairs was an institution that drove and coordinated Slovakia’s accession process to the European Union. Today’s ability of the Foreign Ministry to lead Slovakia’s role inside the EU is constrained through the makeup of the current coalition government. The Foreign Ministry is busy explaining abusive statements directed at foreign politicians by Jan Slota, Chairman of the Slovak National Party, rather than free to work conceptually on Slovakia’s 875 When we add to this priorities in the EU. picture the role of political parties of which only
Slovak Foreign Policy Association. Uznesenie vlady no. 981, December 14, 2005. Interview with the Director General of the EU Division at Slovakia’s Foreign Ministry, November 6, 2007.
874 875 ∗

European Institute of Romania. See: http://www.euractiv.ro/uniuneaeuropeana/articles%7CdisplayArticle/articleID_12504/Cine -ar-trebui-sa-fie-presedintele-Uniunii-Europene-Lupta-intreBlair-Juncker-si-Fischer.html (last access: 11 February 2008); see: http://www.gandul.info/europa/presedinteleuniunii-europene-post-foarte-ravnit.html?3930;965107 (last access: 16 September 2008).
873

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the Christian Democratic Movement seems to have a clear idea of what it wants in the EU, Slovakia’s relatively successful position of a pupil of integration may transform into a position of a spectator rather than a player of EU affairs. Indeed, when by the end of its presidency in the EU in June 2007 Germany announced the death of the EU Constitution and member states adopted the mandate for a new IGC launched during the Portuguese Presidency of the EU in the latter half of 2007, the majority of Slovakia’s politicians welcomed the process and were ready to sign the Lisbon Treaty in December 2007. In fact, there was only one parliamentary party – the opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) – that that did not support the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. The members of parliament representing the KDH used the same arguments against the Lisbon Treaty that they used in opposing the EU Constitution. They objected the legally binding nature of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and criticized further transfer of competencies to the level of the EU. However, all other parliamentary parties have consistently favoured the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty that was – despite domestic 876 – approved by Slovakia’s problems parliament in the spring 2008. The grand bargains on EU primary law thus gradually changed from an initial opportunity to debate the nature of the EU to documents that merely required Slovakia’s stamp of approval.

Political leadership in the EU

Slovenia ∗
(Centre of International Relations)

Honest broker and defender of equality For the same reasons, being an honest-broker during its own term in office, but also because the issue was sensible in light of the approaching Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, no attitudes towards the External Action Service and new post denominations were expressed in the last months, though negotiations, at least concerning the External Action Service, have been well under way. During the term of Slovenian Presidency, negotiations were restrained to budget and personnel questions and have not yet turned to issues of competence division. Though a step-by-step approach to formation of the External Action Service, which first encompasses common foreign and security policy and gradually includes development cooperation, humanitarian assistance, consular relations and maybe also trade by the time of the next financial perspective (year 2014 on) is viewed as most viable and preferred. The External Action Service is viewed as in the service of the High Representative and the President of the European Council. The most vital principle to be observed however, seems not to be related to division of competences between the EU-level posts, but to equal representation of all member states, with a goal of equality, but acknowledging special expertise vested in some countries, and geographic representation among the EU member states. Further, the observation of the principle of equal treatment (rights of personnel, including promotion) for all diplomats, those previously in service of the European Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council and those coming from member states is viewed as absolutely 877 necessary. Small state club The presidency experience has not only offered the Slovenian political elite, but also its entire public administration with the chance to become familiar with power structures and procedural rules and loopholes in the EU. The trio presidency experience with Germany as the old, big and the first to preside partner, also left no illusions about leadership in Europe.
Centre of International Relations. Interview at the Minsitry of Foreign Affairs in Ljubljana, 14 July 2008.
877 ∗

While there is a broad political consensus in favour of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty through Slovakia’s parliament and no major political force has seriously argued in favour of a referendum, the members of the political parties in opposition (the Slovak Christian and Democratic UnionDemocratic Party – SDKÚ-DS, the Christian Democratic Movement – KDH and the Party of Hungarian Coalition – SMK) refused to vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty unless the government changed the contents of the proposed media law that according to the opposition could restrict the freedom of speech in Slovakia. Since the governing coalition composed of three parties (SMER-Social Democracy – SMER-SD, the Slovak National Party – SNS and the Movement for Democratic Slovakia – HZDS-ĽS) controls 85 seats in Slovakia’s parliament, it needed the support of the opposition MPs in order to secure the three fifths majority (90 out of the total of 150 MPs) necessary for successful ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Hence, the Lisbon Treaty became a victim to a political dispute over another piece of legislation. See for more details: http://centreforeuropeanreform.blogspot.com/2008/02/slov ak-roadblock-for-lisbon-treaty.html (last access: September 30, 2008).

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Slovenia joins the club of the smaller states that is seen as necessary to counter balance the influence of the big member states, especially on issues of solidarity, equality and protection of vital interests. Again, not much discussion has taken place on the issues of leadership and the media’s saturation with the presidency did not allow room for bigger discussions on the nature of the EU. Name-dropping did not appear in Slovenian media. Also the political elites speak in terms of principles, rather than being interested in specific names. The definition of responsibilities of the post of the President of the European Council precedes any specific support for certain personalities. One tendency, though, can be traced concerning the post of the Presidents of the European Council: Slovenia would rather see a president 878 coming from a smaller member state.

Second, the discussion about having a President of the European Council acting as a mere chairman or as a real leader. When Spaniards are interviewed about the possible candidates to preside the European Council and they are explicitly asked about Tony Blair, they reject his possible appointment (which would appear to be a punishment for the Iraq war). The left-wing voters react most negatively, with 62 percent considering it a bad or very bad choice, whereas 51 percent of voters from the centre and 43 percent of right879 wing voters would welcome it. Among elites, the figure of Jean Claude Juncker for being a president chairman is normally praised. Third, the fact that, once appointed a new High Representative under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, Spain would lose either a Commissioner (now Joaquín Almunia), or the High Representative himself (Javier Solana) since the later would be a member of the Commission as well and no country has the right to appoint two Commissioners.

Political leadership in the EU

Spain

∗

(Elcano Royal Institute)

Three main concerns in Spain about future of political leadership The main concerns in Spain on the future political leadership in the EU are three: First, the difficult compatibility among four political figures: the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission, the High Representative for External Action and the head of government of the country which assumes the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers. Particularly, considering that Spain will assume the rotating presidency in 2010. This means, on the one hand, some uncertainty since it is not sure that the treaty will be ratified by January 2010. On the other hand, in case that the new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty will have entered into force by January 2010, then the position of the Prime Minister of the country in the rotating presidency of the Council must be clarified; particularly in international summits. Considering the calendar and feasibility of a solution for Ireland, Spain may have to deal with the proposals of arrangements of cohabitation among the four figures during its semester.

Political leadership in the EU

Sweden ∗
(Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

EU needs no directorate but cohesion The interest for EU leadership issues is fairly low in Sweden, where discussions to a much higher degree centre on the policies and activities of the EU. Generally, Sweden like other small member states is against all forms of directorates of the major states of the EU, preferring to see an efficiently working EU in which issues are dealt with on the basis of discussions within the different fora. In this type of co-operation, different countries may assume a leadership role depending on the issue at hand. One example of this is when Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, in a discussion in the Committee on EU Affairs, declares that it is important for the European Commission and for the countries that have advanced the furthest to demonstrate leadership on the climate 880 issue.

Interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ljubljana, 14 July 2008. ∗ Elcano Royal Institute.

878

18th wave of the Barometer of the Elcano Royal Institute (June 2008), available under: www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Baro meteroftheRIElcano (last access: September 30, 2008). ∗ Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 880 Statement by Fredrik Reinfeldt, in: Committee on EU Affairs, EU-nämndens stenografiska uppteckningar

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Apparently Swedes in general are also content with the way in which the EU works in this respect. The Swedish population, to a higher degree than those of other EU member states, feels confident about the Swedish position in the EU. 86 percent believe that the voice of Sweden matters (EU27: 61 percent) and 68 percent believe that Swedish interests are considered (EU27: 46 percent). Both figures have increased during the last year. 881

Political leadership in the EU

United Kingdom ∗
(Federal Trust for Education and Research)

Tony Blair as a European leader? In late 2007 and early 2008, Tony Blair was widely reported as being a possible first holder of the post of President of the European Council. Though he never explicitly confirmed his interest in the role, he “emerged” as a candidate (according to “The Independent” newspaper 882), and, according to “The Times”, launched a “charm offensive” 883 in France to further his claim for the job. Whether or not Tony Blair would have had support from his own country’s government was a matter of some speculation for British observers, given his famously acrimonious relationship with Gordon Brown. It is by no means certain either that his presidency would have been popular with the British electorate, thanks to continued unpopularity in Britain over his role in the Iraq war, and indeed his divisive record on the European stage, which led British pro884 Europeans to launch a “Stop Blair” website . They might well have agreed with “sources close to Angela Merkel” who began the counter-campaign to stall his implicit candidacy: “He made a lot of fine speeches about Europe but, essentially, stood on the sidelines when it came to concrete steps forward”. 885 Since the demise of Tony Blair’s ‘candidacy’, British interest in the potential holder of the post of Council President has markedly declined, though the nature of the post itself continues to be a feature of public debate about the reforms contained in the Lisbon Treaty. In particular, the tendency for the Presidency of the European Council to be equated with a Presidency of the European Union has caused discomfort to those wary of any ‘trappings of statehood’ that the Lisbon Treaty might confer upon the Union.

Political leadership in the EU

Turkey ∗
(Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University)

Accession process might benefit from strong leadership As indicated in the previous issues, the public debate on the EU in Turkey is heavily concentrated on the Turkish membership process and EU-Turkey relations. In this respect, issues that are considered to be not relevant to this process are mainly sidelined in the public debate. The political leadership in the EU after the Lisbon Treaty is one such issue and, particularly after the Irish rejection of the treaty, there is no salient discussion on the changing political leadership structures in the EU and its implications for the future of Europe as the reform process at the EU level is in a deadlock at the moment. In general, Turkey feels more preferential towards a looser EU, and the Turkish public does not see a tightly integrated European Union very positively. It seems that the EU is increasingly losing its power in Turkey, particularly in the light of the salience of domestic political agenda. However, a stronger political leadership established at the EU level, with higher capabilities to act on enlargement, would make a more positive outlook possible, as more informed and educated sections of the society generally tend to think that a stronger EU could be more beneficial for Turkey’s accession process.

(stenographic reports of the Committee on EU Affairs), 18 June, p. 12. 881 Standard Eurobarometer 69, National Report Sweden, Spring 2008, Question IIIb, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb69/eb69_ se_nat.pdf (last access: 19 August 2008). ∗ Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University.

Federal Trust for Education and Research. See: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/blairemerges-as-candidate-for-president-of-europe395057.html (last access: 22 September 2008). 883 See: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/ar ticle3292136.ece (last access: 22 September 2008). 884 See: http://www.stopblair.eu (last access: 22 September 2008). 885 See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/20/eu.spain (last access: 22 September 2008).
882

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5
Concentric circles around the EU?
In April 2008, Elmar Brok, rapporteur of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, proposed a Motion for a European Parliament Resolution on the Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper (2007/2271(INI)). According to this Draft Report (No. PE404.495v02-00), there is a gap between the EU’s Enlargement strategy and its Neighbourhood Policy. To fill this gap, a greater variety of contractual relations with Eastern neighbours is proposed. Envisaged are “mutually permeable concentric circles”, e.g. in the form of a Free Trade Area, a “European Economic Area Plus (EEA +)”, a “European Commonwealth”, or regional cooperation forms, similar to the Union for the Mediterranean. • • What were the reactions to this draft report? Are alternative forms to membership and neighbourhood discussed in your country (Southern and Eastern neighbours) as well? Which proposals are made?

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Concentric circles around the EU?

Concentric circles around the EU?

Austria ∗
(Austrian Institute of International Affairs)

Bulgaria ∗
(Bulgarian European Community Studies Association)

‘Privileged Partnership’ for Turkey Austrian foreign policy prioritizes the integration of the Balkan countries and aims to hold up a full membership perspective even for countries such as Serbia and BosniaHerzegovina. Regarding a possible EU membership of Turkey the Austrian foreign policy emphasises the so-called ‘Privileged Partnership’ instead of a full membership.

Debating flexible cooperation ‘outside’ instead of ‘inside’ the EU Bulgaria’s attitude to the growing debate on concentric circles integration in Europe comes from two shifts – a shift of reality, in terms of status, which has led to a shift in discourse. The shift of reality is related to EU enlargement 2004-2007, and Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union. Back in 2000, from the perspective of a (then) candidate country, Bulgaria expressed support for the reform of the ‘enhanced cooperation’ clauses in the Nice Treaty with the argument that making these provisions more operational will step-up enlargement. At that point in time, Bulgaria was the only candidate country that adopted a positive attitude on this issue – understandably as the last boat in the regatta approaching EU membership. Today’s debate on flexible integration in Europe is at the same time post-enlargement and pre-enlargement (from the perspective of the Brok report). It reflects both the Eastern enlargement, which has already happened, and the (possible) future enlargement(s) of the EU towards the Western Balkans, Turkey, and probably to countries in Eastern Europe. With these realities in the background, the shift in terms of discourse represents one from debating flexibility within the EU (“closer cooperation”), as was the case before, towards debating forms and arrangements for flexibility 888 outside the EU (“wider-closer cooperation”). Another nuance in this shift is related to the general assessment of the phenomenon of flexible integration (and its legal and institutional forms). While it has traditionally been regarded as negative (as a ‘curse word’), today it is viewed more as a necessity and the inevitable ‘lesser evil’. From such a broad perspective, Bulgaria’s position to flexible integration has also shifted from positive to negative. The explicit argument justifying this attitude is that debates on a variety of forms of differentiated integration will jeopardise the EU enlargement
Bulgarian European Community Studies Association. Krassimir Y. Nikolov : The Nice Treaty Provisions on Closer Cooperation and the Candidate Countries, in: Martin Brusis/Janis Emmanouilidis (eds.): Thinking Enlarged: The Accession Countries and the Future of the European Union, Bonn 2002 pp. 103-117.
888 ∗

Concentric circles around the EU?

Belgium

∗

(Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles)

No real debate Elmar Brok’s draft report and the concept of ‘concentric circles’ did not lead to many comments and reactions in Belgium. One must nonetheless mention the positions of some political parties regarding the European Neighbourhood Policy. The French-speaking liberal party (“Mouvement Réformateur”) thinks it is an “absolute necessity” to equip this European Neighbourhood Policy with all necessary means, especially via the financing of projects by the European Investment Bank in the partner countries or via increased 886 On the other hand, the development aid. Flemish Christian-democrat party thinks that economy should not be the only important aspect of the European Neighbourhood Policy but also that political items should be put on the agenda as, for example, human rights and good governance. 887 They also stress the fact that other actors, as NGO’s, representatives of ethnic minorities and labour unions should be involved in the negotiations. Finally, a sanction procedure should be developed if human rights are not respected or if a partner country does not provide enough political efforts towards a substantive and participative democracy.

Austrian Institute of International Affairs. Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles. 886 Mouvement Réformateur: Electoral Manifesto, 2007 Federal Elections, p. 331. 887 Jong Christen-Democratisch & Vlaams: National Congress, 18/01/08.
∗

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perspectives of the Western Balkan countries. Implicitly, however, the more important argument is the concern of a possible ‘backfire’”: debating forms of flexibility outside the EU, and practicing it at a later stage, might lead to debating flexibility within the EU. In the medium term, this trend could lead to the universalisation of flexible integration in Europe in a variety of concentric circles, which could leave Bulgaria in the periphery of decisionmaking. A practical example of this Bulgarian position was given on the occasion of a public discussion organised by the “Bulgarian European Community Studies Association” on th May 16 2008 in Sofia on the prospects for differentiated integration in the Eastern EU neighbourhood. While the guest speaker of the event was Geoffrey Edwards from Cambridge University, the organisers addressed an invitation to a Deputy Foreign Minister to join the debate as co-speaker. He declined the invitation with the argument that his presence could be interpreted as the country’s acceptance to enter into such a debate.

was no official reaction from the government, opposition and NGOs. 891 Despite the fact that reactions to the report have been very limited, some of its elements, primarily the concept of integration capacity 892 and concrete proposals dealing with alternative forms to membership and neighbourhood (Union for the Mediterranean, Eastern Partnership and Union for the Black Sea) received significant attention. The main parts from Brok’s report have been discussed from the perspective of reducing/increasing Croatia’s distance from the core of the EU, and generally without reference to the report. One of a very few media reports dealing with the report underlined the warning that “further enlargement without adequate consolidation could lead to a Union of multiple configurations, with core countries moving toward closer integration and others staying at its margins.” This was presented as an attempt of the European Parliament to slow down 893 integration process. Discussion on the mutually permeable concentric circles in Croatia has been reduced to the process of integration of Croatia into the EU, i.e. from a free trade area into the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), without intermediate steps. In this context, mutually permeable concentric circles are discussed as part of multi-speed Europe, and the potential to develop more concentric circles within the EU, in addition to existing 894 ones (such as EMU and Schengen). As regards the concept of integration capacity, discussion in Croatia is focused on two out of four elements mentioned in the report: the continuation of negotiations and development of institutional framework. These two are regarded as parallel processes. The negotiations should ensure that Croatia contributes to and not impairs the ability of the
Croatian News Agency HINA, 10 July 2008; entereurope web portal, available under: www.entereurope.hr (last access: 10 July 2008). 892 C.f. Committee of Foreign Affairs: Report on the Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper, rapporteur: Elmar Brok, 26 June 2008, 2007/2272(INI), pp. 5-6, point 7. 893 th Glas Istre presented the draft report on 14 of April 2008, available under: http://www.glasistre.hr/?f062a75da5d7571a208e2ba13781 77d9,TS,3504,,17835,23520,222768 (last access: 4 July 2008). 894 Inoslav Bešker: comment. Jutarnji list. 1 July 2008, available under: http://www.jutarnji.hr/vijesti/clanak/art2008,7,1,,125120.jl (last access:15 September 2008).
891

Concentric circles around the EU?

Croatia ∗
(Institute for International Relations)

Inner circle matters, outer matters less Elmar Brok’s draft report received limited attention in Croatia. The presentation in the media was reduced to an article in regional newspaper, 889 coverage of Jan Marinus Wiersma’s and Hannes Swoboda’s proposal to provide for specific regional cooperation framework with Black Sea Region. 890 The results of the final vote in the Committee of Foreign Affairs (24 June 2008) have not been reported at all while the results of the final vote in the European Parliament (9 July 2008) were presented by Croatian News Agency (HINA) and reported at specialised portals, but there

Institute for International Relations. th Only one regional newspaper, Glas Istre, on 14 April 2008, provided direct reference to the draft report. 890 Croatian News Agency HINA reported on amendments rd on 3 June 2008, and the information has been available at several news portals (e.g. http://www.totalportal.hr/article.php?article_id=202654, (last access: 4 July 2007)), and also at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs web, available under: http://www.mvpei.hr/ei/default.asp?ru=1&gl=20080604000 0001&sid=&jezik=1 (last access: 4 July 2008).
889

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Union to maintain momentum towards the fulfilment of its political objectives, while the institutional framework of the Union should deliver efficient and effective government. 895 Discussion of the institutional framework deals with the gap between the Nice Treaty and institutional solutions that could enable Croatia to enter the EU without Lisbon Treaty and intermediate steps. 896 The impetus for the discussion has been failure of the Irish referendum, not Brok’s report. The spectrum of views presented range from those considering that no further enlargement would be possible without comprehensive solution to institutional problems in the EU to those that the EU will find solution to integrate Croatia. 897 Analyses of the credibility and the effectiveness of the enlargement strategy 898 indicate that the EU enlargement policy is not developing according to the pre-defined criteria, thus giving the enlargement process difficulties and crisis whose outcome is hard to estimate, 899 especially having in mind increasing differentiation within the EU member states, particularly Poland and Lithuania. 900 Mediterranean neighbourhood? between EU and

version of Sarkozy’s original proposal, 902 but more acceptable form of regional cooperation for Croatia. While the proposal for a Mediterranean Union was not considered compatible with the EU accession process, Prime Minister Sanader announced that Croatia was willing to participate in the Union for the Mediterranean. 903 President Mesić and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Jandroković participated in the official launch of the Mediterranean Union in Paris on July 13th 2008, which received significant attention from printed and electronic media. 904 Representatives of the government, opposition and NGOs identified a development of a comprehensive approach on protection of the Adriatic as potential benefit of the Union for the Mediterranean. 905 The discussion on re-designed forms of regional cooperation that goes beyond Croatia’s integration towards the EU has been very limited. Issues that have been tackled in this context relate to integration of the Barcelona Process, European policy towards Africa and European Neighbourhood Policy into a single European policy, which might improve European external policy and increase cooperation between the EU and its 906 Also, there was some discussion partners. whether the Union for the Mediterranean might be used to block Turkish membership. Opposing views have been presented on this issue. 907 Concerns that the Union for the Mediterranean might be used to break up African Union and Arab League and to

The proposal for a Mediterranean Union received significant public attention during 2008, as opposed to the time when the proposal was originally launched. Initially, the proposal was regarded as further regionalisation and an alternative to the membership, and as such a threat for candidate countries including Croatia. This view was presented in the media as government’s position and also had support 901 from academic circles. Linking the Union for the Mediterranean with the Barcelona Process and inclusion of all EU member states in the process has been presented as watered down
C.f. Committee of Foreign Affairs: Report on the Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper, rapporteur: Elmar Brok, 26 June 2008, 2007/2272(INI), pp. 5-6, point 7 (i) and (ii). 896 Vjesnik, 23 June 2008; Jutarnji list, 21 and 22 June 2008; Novi list 21 June 2008. 897 Opposing views on the issue were presented by Vjesnik, 27 June 2008. 898 C.f. Committee of Foreign Affairs: Report on the Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper, rapporteur: Elmar Brok, 26 June 2008, 2007/2272(INI), pp. 5-6, point 8. 899 Damir Grubiša: column. Novi list, weekly supplement Europe, 13 May 2008, p. 2. 900 Bruno Lopandić: “Siberian agreement for warming-up of the relationship”. Vjesnik, 24 and 25 May 2008. 901 Positions of the Government and Ivo Šimunović, professor at the Faculty of Economics, University of Split, as presented in Poslovni dnevnik, 14 March 2008.
895

Bruno Lopandić: “Mediteraneaan Union – Nice Dream”. Vjesnik, 26 and 27 April, p. 24. 903 E.g. Prime Minister Sanader’s view as presented in Poslovni dnevnik, 14 March 2008; Vjesnik, 6 May 2008. 904 E.g. Croatian Television News, 13 July 2008; Croatian Radio, 13 July 2008; Croatian News Agency HINA, 13 July 2008; Vjesnik, 14 July 2008. 905 Nives Malenica as representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Tonči Tadić, former member of Croatian parliament, at the roundtable “New challenges in front of the EU and France: energy policy, climate change and Union for the Mediterranean“ as presented in Novi list, 15 June 2008. 906 Michael Emerson at the round table “New challenges in front of the EU and France: energy policy, climate change and Union for the Mediterranean” as presented in Novi list, 15 June 2008. 907 The view that the Union for the Mediterranean might block Turkey is presented by Bruno Lopandić: “Mediterranean Union – Nice Dream”. Vjesnik, 26 and 27 April, p. 24, while the opposing view was presented in the same newspaper in May by Jurica Koerbler: “Sarkozy’s come back to Northern Africa”. Vjesnik, 6 May 2008.

902

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increase dominance of the EU have been also presented. 908 Other initiatives, primarily the Eastern Partnership and the Union for the Black Sea initiatives have been briefly presented in the media, but have not been discussed or analysed. The Polish-Swedish proposal for an Eastern Partnership was presented as a multi-national forum for cooperation. 909 Media forwarded statements of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radosław Sikorski, who had said that the long-term vision of the Eastern Partnership might be integration into the EU of the Eastern neighbours, once the enlargement fatigue is over. Additionally statements from Dimitrij Rupel suggest that the Union for the Mediterranean and the Eastern Partnership are both good ideas, but these statements have not been commented on. 910 Media reports linked the Initiative for establishment of a Union for the Black Sea with ideas for new forms of cooperation with Russia and its involvement in Black Sea region. 911 The EU-Russia Summit on strategic partnership was also presented from the perspective of development of the neighbouring policy, strengthening cooperation in a variety of policy fields including energy, trade and visa-regime. 912

Concentric circles around the EU?

Cyprus ∗
(Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies)

Alternatives to membership not widely discussed With regard to the future of the enlargement process, Cypriot officials stated that they agree with Elmar Brok’s opinion that “the success of the enlargement process (and thus the success of the EU political integration process) can only be ensured if there is clear and longlasting support for the EU membership of each candidate country”. At the same time, however, they highlighted the need that all candidate countries should fully adopt the fundamental values and norms of the EU and also fulfil their overall obligations towards the EU, adding that the EU ought to be stricter towards the countries that fail to meet their obligations. They also noted that, in case of a new enlargement, the EU-27 should take into account the EU’s ability to absorb new member states without jeopardising its normal 913 functioning. Moreover, they also expressed support towards Elmar Brok’s position that the EU’s enlargement strategy should “strike a balance between the Union's geo-strategic interests, the impact of political developments outside its borders, and the union’s integration capacity, including its ability to cope with future internal and external challenges and to realise its political integration project”. 914 In conclusion, they stated that, with the current Treaty of Nice, the EU expansion would have to be halted until a new document enters into force. At the same time, it should be noted that proposed alternatives to EU enlargement and neighbourhood policy for EU’s Eastern neighbours have not yet received any serious attention in Cyprus, since these proposals are considered very vague and premature and have not progressed at the centre of EU’s policy-making process. On the other hand, Cyprus has been following with great interest the newly launched Union for the Mediterranean and, due to its geographic status within this region, will be directly engaged in the process.

Web portal Javno, 10 June 2008, available under: http://www.javno.com/hr/svijet/clanak.php?id=155222 (last access: 3 July 2008). 909 E.g. Novi list, weekly supplement Europe, 5 June 2008 ; Glas Istre: Glas Slavonije i Zadarski list, 5 June 2008, p. 2; Vjesnik, 29 May 2008. 910 Vjesnik, 27 May 2008, available under: http://www.vjesnik.hr/pdf/2008%5C05%5C27%5C12A12.P DF (last access: 29 July 2008). 911 E.g. Novi list, weekly supplement Europe, 5 June 2008; Glas Istre: Glas Slavonije i Zadarski List, 5 June 2008, p. 2. 912 Vjesnik, 27 June 2008; Deutsche Welle, 26 June 2008, available under: http://deutschewelle.com/dw/article/0,2144,3360437,00.html (last access: 7 July 2008).

908

Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies. Interviews conducted by Christos Xenphontos, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May-June 2008. 914 Ibid.
913

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Concentric circles around the EU?

Czech Republic ∗
(Institute of International Relations)

Proposal not clear enough – it will be judged according to impact on EU enlargement Generally speaking, the Czech position towards proposals for alternative forms to membership and neighbourhood is affected by our own experience as a candidate country. During accession negotiations, Czech representatives always stressed that ‘secondclass’ membership in any form is not acceptable. Even though these feelings may slowly fade away, the Czech Republic still empathizes with those knocking on the door of the European Union. Therefore, any proposal for such ‘concentric circles’ will be acceptable only if these circles are really permeable; they do not introduce ‘second-class’ membership or new barriers on the road to the EU. So far, Czech diplomacy has no position towards the European Parliament resolution of 10 July 2008 on the Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper (based on the report drafted by Elmar Brok). The proposal for concentric circles also did not enter Czech public debate. Therefore, we can only guess how the Czech Republic will react on the basis of our knowledge of Czech priorities and existing reactions from European political elite to the European Parliament’s resolution. The resolution already raised some doubts. Propositions contained in this resolution can be interpreted as a substitution for 915 In fact, the resolution calls for enlargement. new intermediate steps towards full membership, each requiring the fulfilment of “necessary internal and external conditions”. This may be at odds with the priorities of the Czech government concerning enlargement generally and the integration of the Western Balkan countries in particular. For example, anchoring Western Balkan states in ‘not-sopermeable’ concentric circles may threaten the goal of Czech diplomacy to smoothen the transition between the “signatory of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement” status and candidate status.

Even though in his original draft report, Elmar Brok calls for the consolidation within the EU and rejects the “Union of multiple configurations”, Czech politicians may treat the proposal for “permeable concentric circles” as an example of a multi-speed European integration: with the core EU-27 and a belt of countries participating only in some policies and agendas. Thus, even though Czech politicians did not directly comment on Brok’s proposal, their position on this proposal will also be influenced by their attitude towards the concept of a multi-speed Europe Most Czech officials believe that the formation of an integrated core, consisting of several countries that move towards closer integration and others lying at its margins, would place Czechs into a very difficult position. The Czech nation would “face dilemmas on which it 916 probably even can not find solutions”. Deputy Premier for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) values the full membership of the Czech Republic, since it allows us (together with likeminded countries) to balance influence of others and shape the ideas in Europe. 917 Following this logic, ‘second-class’ membership of neighbouring countries would mean that these countries cannot enter this balancing game in many important areas. On the other side, there are some ‘eurorealists’ from the Civic Democratic Party who favour a multi-speed and flexible European Union, consisting of “more integration cores”. The idea of a multi-speed and flexible European Union is promoted by Jan Zahradil (MEP, foreign 918 affairs expert in Civic Democratic Party), who even argues that enlargement will lead towards a more flexible European architecture. 919

Institute of International Relations. ’Close relations’ more fashionable than enlargement, EurActiv, 10 July 2008, available at: http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/close-relationsfashionable-enlargement/article-174112 (last access: 14 July 2008).
915

∗

Rozhovor v Mladé frontě DNES: Nehrajme si v EU na žáčky a učitele (Interview with Alexandr Vondra: Do not play students and teachers in the EU), Mladá fronta DNES, 21 June 2008, available at: http://www.vlada.cz/scripts/detail.php?id=36872 (last access: 14 July 2008). 917 Ibid. 918 Jan Zahradil: Radar, Irové a české drobečky (Radar, Irish and Czech crumbs), Hospodářské noviny, 10 July 2008, available at: http://hn.ihned.cz/c1-25936910-radarirove-a-ceske-drobecky (last access: 14 July 2008). 919 Naším zájmem je flexibilní Evropa, nikoli pevnost: Rozhovor s poslancem Evropského parlamentu a stínovým ministrem zahraničí Janem Zahradilem (Flexible Europe, not a fortress is in our interest: Interview with member of European Parliament and shadow minister of foreign affairs Jan Zahradil), EU a její východní sousedé, Inzertní příloha Revue Politika, March 2005.

916

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The Czech Republic supports the strengthening of the eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The strengthening of the eastern dimension is one of the priorities of the Czech EU-Presidency; the eastern dimension was also stressed during the Czech Presidency of the Visegrad Group. 920 But the eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy cannot be interpreted as an alternative contractual form to enlargement. There is a consensus on the Czech political scene that the EU should remain open to (potential) candidates, especially from the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Probably the only exception is Turkey, whose membership is opposed by Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and a few nongovernmental groups. The opponents of Turkish EU membership do favour ‘strong ties’ between Turkey and the EU rather than membership, but the exact content and form of such a contractual relationship is not clear. Also, these ideas are focused solely on Turkey (in contrast to more general proposal for “concentric circles” made by Elmar Brok and the European Parliament).

concentric circles similar to EU’s policies towards the Mediterranean with different speeds of integration depending on the speed of democratic and market reforms undertaken in each of the EU’s neighbouring countries. 921 Generally, the Danish government finds it important to target and adapt the ENP to the situation and challenges of individual countries and regions. In this respect, Denmark sees different challenges and needs for the Southern ENP regions compared to those in the East. The challenges in the Southern ENP regions centre on counteracting radicalisation, terrorism and political instability, whereas the challenges for the ENP in the East are related to securing human rights, freedom of the 922 media and combating trafficking of humans.

Concentric circles around the EU?

Estonia ∗
(University of Tartu)

Closer cooperation with the able and willing There has been very little public discussion of the Brok report. However, the positions of the Estonian government regarding enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) are quite clear. Estonia remains a strong proponent of further enlargement “on the basis of the principles that have been followed up until now.” 923 This means an individual, merit-based approach, coupled with strong accession conditionality. Thus, Estonia emphasises “the importance of complete fulfilment of the current enlargement criteria in order to give a clear message of expected homework to candidate countries, and by doing so raising the quality of the process itself.” 924 Estonia is opposed to making absorption capacity an additional criterion of enlargement. Estonia regards the ENP as ‘one of the most effective mechanisms’ for supporting reforms, democratisation and stabilisation in the neighbourhood. In principle, Estonia supports all measures designed to strengthen the ENP.
The Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry, available under: www.um.dk (last access: 4 July 2008). 922 The Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry, available at: http://www.um.dk/da/menu/Udviklingspolitik/LandeOgRegi oner/Naboskabsprogrammet/ (last access 25 January 2008). ∗ University of Tartu. 923 Estonia’s priorities in the European Union during the Slovenian Presidency, available under: st www.riigikantselei.ee (last access: 1 of September 2008). 924 Ibid.
921

Concentric circles around the EU?

Denmark ∗
(Danish Institute for International Studies)

Target and adapt ENP to different countries and regions The Elmar Brok report has not been discussed in depth in Denmark and there have not been made any official statements from parliament or the government regarding the report. Despite that, the view presented in the report tallies with the view put forward by the Danish Foreign Ministry and thereby the Danish government. The Danish government finds that the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) should be a merit-based system in that each country’s level of co-operation with the EU (access to the internal market, integration in the EU’s energy and climate policies, etc.) is dependent on how willing and successful each ENP country has been in undertaking reforms. This opens the door for mutually permeable
The Visgard Group is a forum in which the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia cooperate in a number of fields of common interest. Tisková konference po jednání předsedů vlád zemí Visegrádské skupiny (Press conference after the meeting of prime ministers of the Visegrad Group countries), 16 June 2008, available at: http://www.vlada.cz/scripts/detail.php?id=36515 (last access: 14 July 2008). ∗ Danish Institute for International Studies.
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It is recognised that the current ENP framework does little to provide solutions to critical problems faced by countries such as Georgia, the Ukraine and Moldova. The denial of a membership prospect to ENP countries is regarded as a problem: conditionality is likely to remain ineffective in the absence of the eventual possibility of membership. Thus, the EU should adopt a more differentiated, individual approach to cooperation with the partner states, taking into account each country’s progress in implementing the ENP action plan and its wishes and ambitions in 925 Countries that moving closer to the EU. want to move on faster should be allowed to do so; countries that are sceptical towards the ENP should be given additional incentives to participate more actively. Existing ENP action plans should not hinder the conclusion of new agreements with countries that are able and willing to take the next step. In this context, Estonia supports the diversification of external contractual frameworks, the strengthening of the political dimension of relations, the gradual extension of the area of common policies and the four freedoms, and developing multilateral and regional cooperation formats within the ENP framework (Mediterranean Partnership, Eastern Dimension, Black Sea Synergy). Priority areas include economic and trade cooperation, visa facilitation, resolution of 926 frozen conflicts and energy cooperation.

neighbourhoods and preventing the emergence of isolated sub-dimensions and neighbourhoods within the wider EU context. Finally, during the period of reporting there was not any discussion of Brok’s report in Finland. The Swedish and Polish idea on Eastern enlargement gained some media attention in Finland. The Swedish Prime Minister stated that strengthening the Eastern dimension is important for the democratisation process of the respective countries. The Finnish Foreign Minister commented that this new Eastern project does not threaten the ‘Northern Dimension’ that is important to protect the 927 Finland’s idea of the ‘Northern Baltic Sea. Dimension’ was to bring the European Union closer to Russia. The aim was to find concrete cooperation areas. Later during the second Finnish EU-Presidency, equality between Norway, Iceland, EU and Russia was strengthened. Cooperation was based on issues related to security, justice and home affairs but the environment has always been a key issue. 928 Russia, Russia and Russia In this respect, of particular interest to Finland will be the commencement of the negotiations for a new Post-Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Russia that took place at the EU-Russia Summit in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia, in late June. The Finnish interest is to have a wideranging new document between the parties. The former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen wrote in the leading weekly magazine “Suomen Kuvalehti” how, as a small EU member state, Finns have a keen interest in preventing the development of an overriding bilateralism between Russia and some of the key larger member states. For him it is obvious that Finland – as well as other small member state such as the Baltic states – would end up on the losing side and repeatedly facing fait 929 accomplis decided upon elsewhere. A Union for the Mediterranean The biggest item to be debated related to the French President is Nikolas Sarkozy’s idea of a Mediterranean Union. In the Finnish media this
Ruotsi ja Puola: EU katsokoon itään, Helsingin th Sanomat, 27 of May 2008. 928 Helsingin Sanomat: EU piirtää ulkorajoilleen th "ulottuvuuksia" ja "unioneita", 29 of May 2008. 929 Paavo Lipponen: Vahva Venäjä, heikot kumppanit, Suomen Kuvalehti 15/2008.
927

Concentric circles around the EU?

Finland ∗
(EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs)

Equal acknowledgement In general, the Finnish line towards the European Union’s various neighbourhoods is that of equality: the importance of all the neighbourhoods of the European Union is widely acknowledged and the emphasis is put on giving all of them their due. In this respect, the Finnish interest is to keep all of the European Union committed to all of its varying
State Chancellery of Estonia: Vabariigi Valitsuse istungi protokolli märgitud otsus: Eesti seisukohad Euroopa Liidu th üldasjade ja välissuhete nõukogu (GAERC) 28, 28 of April 2008, available under: www.riigikantselei.ee (last st access: 1 of September 2008). 926 State Chancellery of Estonia: Vabariigi Valitsuse istungi protokolli märgitud otsus: Eesti seisukohad Euroopa Liidu th üldasjade ja välissuhete nõukogu 18, 19 of February 2008, available under: www.riigikantselei.ee (last access: st 1 of September 2008). ∗ EUR Programme/Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
925

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was seen as a harmful intrusion into the overall policy logic within the European Union. 930 Leading Finnish politicians, however, were very careful not to voice any open criticism towards the concept. The Finnish position is to support the development of the EuroMediterranean relations. The European Commission communication on the “Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean” is in line with the Finnish position, especially because it does not give extra funding for the process but continues the funding based on the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. Finland would like the secretariat to be based in Brussels. (In the communication it is stated only that the location will be decided by 931 consensus ) In addition, Finland sees that the concrete projects are the key element of the initiative. Traditionally, Finland has been most active in the environmental sector. 932

A Union for the Mediterranean still dominates discussions on neighbourhood policy When discussing enlargement and neighbourhood policy in France, the project of the Mediterranean Union is at the forefront most of the time. French newspapers covered the criticisms from Muammar Gadaffi, the Libyan Head of State, who announced his decision not to take part in the project and the kick-off on July 13th 2008. 934 Gaddafi argues: “If Europe wants to cooperate with us, let them do so through the Arab League or the African Union [...] we will not accept that they deal only with a small group” 935. Neither the French President, nor the government, had an official reaction; they rather tried to put this event into perspective, arguing that the Libyan leader has a rather limited capacity to influence other Arab Heads of State. 936 In April, during an official visit to Tunisia, Nicolas Sarkozy’s strategy to re-launch his project was also criticised. “Libération” wrote that the French President overstepped the mark of diplomatically tolerable cynicism, when he called Tunisia as “unrivalled model of human rights in the world”. 937 As a matter of fact, the French government will try, by any means, to push forward this project during the French Presidency. The first step was to find an agreement with Germany. The French press outlined the fact that the Mediterranean Union was the most controversial issue in the bilateral relations of both countries. Following Pierre Avril (“Le Figaro”), ”Berlin has therefore achieved its objectives: stopping Paris becoming the promoter of an initiative that would have polarised the South of 938 Europe and jeopardised the EU’s integrity”. From the bilateral perspective, this episode is also seen as a symbol of a shift in Nicolas Sarkozy’s German policy. The French President has been forced to admit, despite himself, that France cannot act on the continent without Germany’s assent. 939 The President’s special counsellor, Henri Guaino, often considered to be the ‘father’ of the Mediterranean Union project, explains that the original concept has changed, in order to reach
europe.eu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id= 471&Itemid=90 (last access 29/08/2008). 934 Le Monde, 25/06/2008. 935 AFP, 10/06/2008. 936 Le Monde, 11/06/2008. 937 Libération, 30/04/2008. 938 Pierre Avril: Méditerranée, l’UE entérine le projet, Le Figaro, 14/03/2008. 939 L’Express, 10/03/2008.

Concentric circles around the EU?

France

∗

(Centre européen de Sciences Po)

Focus remains on the Mediterranean circle Rather limited debates on the relations between enlargement and neighbourhood policy as a whole The draft report on the EU enlargement strategy paper, proposed by Elmar Brok, did not raise many debates in France. Analyses remain instead on the European Neighbourhood Policy as a whole. For some scholars, like Philippe Perchoc (CERI/SciencesPo), the ‘concentric circles’ strategy is actually a tool to develop a ‘hidden enlargement policy’. More precisely, he outlines the fact that some non-member states do participate in some common policies (e.g. Schengen), whereas others, who are member states of the EU, do not participate in these policies. However, he nuances this statement with this crucial observation: “member states decide, the others undergo or profit from these 933 decisions”.

Helsingin Sanomat: Välimeren unioni vesittyi – onneksi, th 20 of March 2008, p. A2. 931 See: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/euromed/docs/com0 th 8_319_en.pdf (last access: 16 of September 2008). 932 Personal interview with a Finnish diplomat, Ministry for Foreign Affairs. ∗ Centre européen de Sciences Po. 933 Philippe Perchoc: Politique Européenne de Voisinage : politique de puissance ou élargissement masqué ?, Nouvelle Europe, 22/05/2008, available under http://www.nouvelle-

930

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this consensus at the EU level, and will now involve all member states. 940 Not only Germany but also the European Commission tried to shape the initial version. In the new version, “Le Figaro” sees the footprint of Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European neighbourhood Policy, and considered as the pet peeve of Paris, because of her activism against French leadership on this project. 941 However, Brussels’ attitude reveals the hesitations of many of the member states. If the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are reluctant to finance this policy, some Eastern states, like Poland, fear that a union looking towards the South would forget Eastern partners like the Ukraine. 942 Trying to temper EU partners, the Secretary of State for European Affairs, JeanPierre Jouyet, opposed the French President and his counsellor Henri Guaino, who wanted to limit the initial Mediterranean Union to neighbouring countries. 943 Analysing the process of change, Raphaël Liogier, professor at the “Institute for Political Science Aixen-Provence”, thinks that there is more than a semantic shift between the former ‘Mediterranean Union’ project and the presently titled ‘Union for the Mediterranean’. Asking, “who could deny that the German veto has reduced our current prospects to mere revising of the Barcelona Process?”, he argues that the new version thus translates into an attempt to make the southern 944 The coastline a ‘eurozone’ for investors. association “Attac” adopts a similar point of view, and considers this project as nothing but the continuation of the Barcelona Process, an “unbalanced relation between EU member states and the 12 Southern- and Eastern-Mediterranean governments, subject to neo-liberal policies implemented by the IMF, World Bank and WTO” 945. Unsurprisingly, economic actors quite actively support the Union for the Mediterranean. An opinion poll commissioned by the “General Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises” (CGPME) to “IPSOS” shows that more than 80 percent of corporate managers consider the project as a good way to improve cooperation between the different states involved in
Henri Guaino: Les peuples riverains de la Méditerranée doivent s'unir pour assumer leur part de destin commun, Interview pour Touteleurope.fr, 30/05/2008. 941 See its opinion column L'Union pour la Méditerranée, une chance pour l'Europe, Le Figaro, 23/05/2008. 942 Le Figaro: Méditerranée: Bruxelles limite les visées de la France, 20/05/2008. 943 Le Monde, 04/07/2008. 944 Raphaël Liogier: «Méditerranée: le flair imparable de Kadhafi, Le Monde, 24/06/2008. 945 Attac: Union pour la Méditerranée, Communiqué de presse, 06/07/2008.
940

the project. 946 According to the same poll, corporate managers now expect the creation of a “Mediterranean Bank of Investment”. Finally, the Union for the Mediterranean also reveals a hazy boundary between neighbourhood and enlargement policy, especially regarding Turkey. Some observers see this union as a way for the French President to keep Turkey out of the European Union. Nicolas Sarkozy is opposed to Turkey’s entry into the EU and defends the idea of a ‘special partnership’, an idea that is categorically rejected by Ankara, which seeks full 947 membership.

Concentric circles around the EU?

Germany

∗

(Institute for European Politics)

Few reactions – no new alternatives There have been no direct reactions to Elmar Brok’s Report in Germany, which shows that it does not match well with current priorities on the EU agenda of the political parties. Nonetheless, there is debate in the German parliament (“Bundestag”) and among the parliamentary factions about the EU’s enlargement strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Most of the topics under discussion, however, are influenced by the most recent developments in Georgia, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Black Sea Synergy, or the ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty. The latter shows that when it comes to matters of the EU, most politicians are foremost concerned about the internal reforms of the EU, which in turn is seen as a necessary precondition for further enlargement or even a credible ENP. Yet, within these debates certain tendencies can be identified that build upon older models or patterns of EU partnership with its neighbours (new terms or concepts, such as ‘European Commonwealth’ do not appear in the national debate). A key document in this context is a motion passed by the Green
See: http://www.ipsos.fr/CanalIpsos/articles/images/2558/diapor ama.htm (last access: 29/08/2008). See also Les chefs d’entreprise plébiscitent l’Union pour la Méditerranée, 11/06/2008, available under: http://www.touteleurope.fr/fr/actions/relationsexterieures/politique-de-voisinage/analyses-etopinions/analyses-vuedetaillee/afficher/fiche/3551/t/44100/from/2386/bre (last access: 29/08/2008). 947 Le Monde, 08/07/2008. ∗ Institute for European Politics.
946

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faction (“Bündnis 90/Die Grünen”) and by Rainder Steenblock, member of the Committee of European Affairs, entitled “To develop the Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy of the European Union further”. 948 This motion calls for a “close cooperation across Europe’s boundaries” but also for a differentiation between the neighbouring countries that have theoretically a membership perspective and a neighbourhood policy for “the countries south and east of the Mediterranean”, i.e. the ones with no membership perspective. 949 A coordinated, albeit specific, strategy should be developed towards each of the regions. Moreover, it proposes ‘new instruments’ to integrate the Central Asian countries more than until now through partnership and cooperation agreements into the ENP. 950 The motion was rejected with the votes of all other factions (CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP, “Die Linke”), based on the argument that “the European Commission had founded its enlargement strategy on the principles ‘Consolidation, Conditionality, and Communication’” and that those were not explicit enough in the motion. 951 The explanations of Stephan Eisel, member of the Committee of European Affairs, who answered on behalf of the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), made clear again that ‘deepening’ of the existing EU is a priority. 952 Despite the negative outcome of this motion, it gave new input to latent discussions on the ‘future of Europe’ – with regards to its internal as well as external strategy. One aspect that has been recalled many times is the idea of ‘differentiation’. This should happen in two ways: on the one hand there should be a distinction in the way the Greens requested it in their motion (countries with a membership perspective and countries without), on the other hand there should be a differentiation between the individual countries. The latter is to say that if there is a possibility for
Antrag der Fraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen: Die Erweiterungs- und Nachbarschaftspolitik der Europäischen Union weiter entwickeln, Bundestagsdrucksache 16/5425, available under: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/054/1605425.pdf (last access: 10 September 2008). 949 Ibid. 950 Ibid. 951 Beschlussempfehlung und Bericht des Ausschusses für die Angelegenheiten der Europäischen Union (21. Ausschuss) zu Drucksache 16/5425, Bundestagsdrucksache 16/6977, available under: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/069/1606977.pdf (last access: 9 September 2008). 952 Ibid., p. 6.
948

membership, an accession date should not be set in advance, but emerge naturally as a result of the developments in the respective country and the ‘readiness’ of the EU. Additionally, the EU should refrain from ascribing a ‘to-do-list’ since this does not usually help to foster sustainable reforms. 953 In general it seems like none of the political parties wants to create real alternatives to the ENP. When the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) talked about a strategy towards Georgia, it mentioned the need for an Eastern Partnership but on the basis of the tools available under ENP. 954 Both, the Greens (“Bündnis 90/Die Grünen”) and the Social Democrats (SPD) underlined that the Union for the Mediterranean is an initiative under the Barcelona Process and thus also part of the ENP. 955 In the same vein does Angelica Schwall-Düren, vice president of the SPD, deem the Black Sea region as falling under the ENP. 956 Merely the Left Party (“Die Linke”) demands a significant shift in the existing debate and calls for an “equal” or “democratic”
Cf: Stephan Eisel: Vertiefung und Konsolidierung vor Erweiterung. Rede zur EU- Erweiterungs- und Nachbarschaftspolitik, speech in parliamentary debate, 8 November 2007, available under: http://www.cducsu.de/Titel__Vertiefung_und_Konsolidierung_vor_Erweite rung/TabID__1/SubTabID__2/InhaltTypID__2/InhaltID__80 57/Inhalte.aspx (last access: 9 September 2008); Thomas Silberhorn: Vertiefung der Europäischen Integration ein Weg dazu ist, in der EU wieder erweiterungsfähig zu werden. Rede zur EU- Erweiterungs- und Nachbarschaftspolitik, speech in parliamentary debate, 8 November 2007,available under: http://www.cducsu.de/Titel__Vertiefung_der_europaeische n_Integration_ein_Weg_dazu_ist_in_der_EU_wieder_erwe iterungsfaehig_zu_wer/TabID__1/SubTabID__2/InhaltTypI D__2/InhaltID__8059/Inhalte.aspx (last access: 10 September 2008). 954 Bernhard Kaster/Michael Stübgen: Union Positioniert sich zu aktuellen Themen der EU. Klausurtagung der Arbeitsgruppe Angelegenheiten der Europäischen Union, press release, 9 September 2008, available under: http://www.presseportal.de/pm/7846/1261544/cdu_csu_bu ndestagsfraktion (last access: 10 September 2008). 955 Cf: Angelica Schwall-Düren: Partnerschaft mit den Mittelmeeranrainern verstärken, press release, 14 July 2008, available under: http://www.spdfrak.de/cnt/rs/rs_dok/0,,44711,00.html (last access: 10 September 2008); Rainder Steenblock: Euromediterrane Parlamentarische Versammlung, speech in parliamentary debate, 29 May 2008, available under: http://www.raindersteenblock.de/berichte-redenphotos/reden/not_cached/inhalt/euromediterrane_parlame ntarische_versammlung/einzelansicht/?cHash=54c66288e b (last access: 10 September 2008). 956 Angelica Schwall-Düren: EU setzt klares Zeichen für die Unterstützung Georgiens, press release, 2 September 2008, available under: http://www.pressrelations.de/new/standard/result_main.cf m?pfach=1&n_firmanr_=109407§or=pm&detail=1&r=3 36824&sid=&aktion=jour_pm&quelle=0 (last access: 10 September 2008).
953

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neighbourhood policy, which is not oriented on the “geo-strategic interests of the various actors within the EU”. 957 However, neither the Left Party come up with a clear strategy or a model. Nonetheless, a number of research institutes and think tanks as well as political foundations have thought through different models of EU integration. 958 Although the initial ideas date back a few years, they serve as points of reference or sources of inspiration for further development. One should mention the “European Economic Area”, built by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein which inspired the EEA plus proposals. The Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) still regard a “Privileged Partnership” as an alternative to Turkish membership, even if they search for a new name and more precise substance. Also the following models remain rather theoretical games since they have not yet found response in German EU politics. Those are the “Extended Associated Membership” (EAM) as envisaged by Wolfgang Quaisser and Steve Wood from the 959 the “Gradual “Osteuropa-Institut”,
Cf: Hakki Keskin: Zum Antrag der Fraktion DIE GRÜNEN „Die Erweiterungs- und Nachbarschaftspolitik der Europäischen Union weiter entwickeln“, speech in parliamentary debate, 8 November 2007, available under: http://www.keskin.de/bundestag/reden/801601.html (last access: 10 September 2008); Hakki Keskin: Europäische Nachbarschaftspolitik zur Förderung von Frieden und Stabilität im Südkaukasus nutzen, speech in parliamentary debate, 21 February 2008, available under: http://www.keskin.de/bundestag/reden/1169809.html (last access: 10 September 2008); Hakki Keskin/Diether Dehm: Karabach-Konflikt friedlich lösen, press release, 9 May 2007, available under: http://www.linksfraktion.de/pressemitteilung.php?artikel=12 17721468 (last access: 10 September 2008). 958 Cf: Barbara Lippert: Alternatives between Full Membership and Non-membership – Fata Morgana or Silver Bullet?, Conference Paper, 3-6 July 2008, available under: http://www.eliamep.gr/eliamep/files/The-EU-and-itsNeighbours_Programme.pdf (last access: 10 September 2008); For previous proposals see Deborah Klein/Canan Atilgan: EU-Integrationsmodelle unterhalb der Mitgliedschaft, Arbeitspapier der Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung 156/2008, available under: http://www.kas.de/db_files/dokumente/arbeitspapiere/7_do kument_dok_pdf_8414_1.pdf (last access: 10 September 2008); Thorsten Arndt: Quo Vadis EU III: Europa an den Grenzen – Grenzen der EU. Das Ende der bisherigen Erweiterungspolitik, documentation of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, available under: http://www.boell.de/internationalepolitik/internationalepolitik-3114.html (last access: 10 September 2008). 959 Wolfgang Quaisser: Alternative EUIntegrationsstrategien für die Türkei und andere Kandidatenländer. Privilegierte Partnerschaft oder „Erweiterte Assoziierte Mitgliedschaft“, Kurzanalysen und Informationen des Osteuropa-Instituts München 12/2004, available under: http://www.osteuropa957

Integration” approach as discussed by Cemal Karakas, 960 the “Junior-Membership” as proposed by Franz-Lothar Altmann from the “Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik” 961 and the ambitious “pan-European Confederation” proposed by Barabara Lippert, “Institut für Europäische Politik” 962.

Concentric circles around the EU?

Greece

∗

(Greek Centre of European Studies and Research)

Strong interest in ‘enlargement-minus’ relations Given the close ties Greece entertains both with its Balkan (presently Western – Balkan states: Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia) and Black Sea (especially the Ukraine and Moldova, but most importantly Russia) neighbours, its interest in ‘enlargement minus’ situations is quite high. Discussions in either the European Parliament or the European Commission are not really reflected widely in Greek public debate, but seeking ways to build a European web of relations with such countries is perceived as a priority (to the point of being commented on as a ‘partial-substitute’ for Greek foreign policy in an extremely sensitive environment). Therefore, the Greek position is not only positive as to the extension of any sort of contractual relations of the EU in the region, but also policy-neutral as to the nature and/or legal qualification of such relations. This is particularly valid for stronger EU-Russia relations that would justify and ‘legitimise’ the bilateral Greece-Russia rapprochement, mainly in energy matters.

institut.de/ext_dateien/info12.pdf (last access: 10 September 2008); Wolfgang Quaisser/Steve Wood: EU Member Turkey? Preconditions, Consequences and Integration Alternatives, forost Arbeitspapier 25/2004, available under: http://www.forost.lmu.de/fo_library/forost_Arbeitspapier_25 .pdf (last access: 10 September 2008). 960 Cemal Karakas: Für eine Abgestufte Integration. Zur Debatte um den EU-Beitritt der Türkei, HSFK-Standpunkte 4/2005, available under: http://www.hsfk.de/downloads/Standpunkte-42005(druckfrei).pdf (last access: 10 September 2008). 961 Franz-Lothar Altmann: EU und Westlicher Balkan. Von Dayton nach Brüssel: ein allzu langer Weg, SWP-Studie 1/2005, available under: http://www.swpberlin.org/common/get_document.php?asset_id=1841 (last access: 10 September 2008). 962 Barbara Lippert: Beefing up the ENP: Towards a Modernisation and Stability Partnership, in: The International Spectator 4/2006, pp. 85-100. ∗ Greek Centre of European Studies and Research.

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Be it also said that, while the official Greek position concerning the full accession of Turkey to the EU (‘provided all relevant conditions are fulfilled’) remains as repeatedly stated, in fact some sort of ‘accession minus’ would be most welcome at a later political/diplomatic stage for large segments of Greek public opinion. Especially if the internal upheavals of the Turkish political system result in a protracted period of unpredictability and/or ‘exported problems’ on the part of this tooclose neighbour. Thus, an enhanced relationship between the EU and Turkey, if made acceptable to Ankara through its insertion in a wider European architecture, would prove rather popular in Greece. It should be noted that former Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed last February in rather stark terms that the idea of a special relationship between EU and Turkey is recommended 963 instead of accession. This, along with the ‘French connection’ to Greek foreign policy, explains why Greece has greeted the Union for the Mediterranean project quite positively, notwithstanding initial misgivings due to the project’s potential overlapping with the existing Barcelona Process.

framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). In this respect Hungary’s main interest is to see the European Union’s Southern and Eastern relations well balanced. This balance should also be reflected at the level of financial support, since to date the Mediterranean region benefits from some 70 percent of ENP assistance, while the Eastern partners get only 30 percent. Hungary is of the view that from 2014 on, the financial envelop backing the ENP should be increased, so that the Southern partners would not get less while the Eastern region would benefit more. Regarding the ENP in general – in the name of a more pragmatic approach – Hungary would like the EU to fill these relations with more substance and with more concrete projects that would preferably not require new institutions.

Concentric circles around the EU?

Italy

∗

(Istituto Affari Internazionali)

Focus on Mediterranean region Neither the draft report nor the final text adopted in July triggered many reactions in the Italian political realm for at least two different reasons. First of all, at the time of the publication of the report, Italy went through political elections that were held on April 13th and 14th, so that the political limelight was on the electoral contest itself and the outcome. Secondly, it has to be considered that, being a country that lies on the Mediterranean, one of the most important directions of Italy’s foreign policy, although not the exclusive one, is towards the Mediterranean region. 965 This proves true even in the case of Italy’s European foreign policy priorities, where the policy vis-à-vis the Mediterranean region is one of its most important features. During the last months, another element has been added to the traditional preference of Italy for the Mediterranean region: the debate on Sarkozy’s idea for a Mediterranean Union and the launch of the initiative last July. As for the debate on alternative forms of membership and neighbourhood, Italy accepted the principle of the European Partnership, proposed last May by Poland and Sweden, but with some caveats. First of all,
Istituto Affari Internazionali. On the characteristics of the Italian foreign policy and its main directions, see C. M. Santoro: La politica estera di una media potenza, Bologna/Il Mulino 1991.
965 ∗

Concentric circles around the EU?

Hungary

∗

(Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

Supportive of European Neighbourhood Policy with a stronger Eastern dimension Within Hungarian diplomacy the publication of the European Parliament’s report did not make a real sounding. Although the report contains valuable proposals, the official stance of Hungary 964 is to offer full membership to all those countries which belong to Europe and which fulfil the membership criteria. Countries beyond this circle, but bordering the European Union, should be tied to the EU in the
See articles by Nikos Frangakis, Dimitris Dimitriadis (President, European Economic and Social Committee)/George Glynos, Dimitrios Katsoudas (Secretary General for European Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Athanasios Kotsiaros, Achilleas Mitsos, Constantine Papadopoulos, Christos Triantopoulos and Kostas Zepos, in VIMA IDEON of the newspaper TO VIMA, September 2008, reflecting a roundtable discussion organised by EKEME on 1 July 2008. ∗ Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. 964 The answer given here is based on an interview with a high official of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
963

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while Italy agrees on the need for a strengthening of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), it wants to preserve two of its tenets, namely unity and differentiation. 966 The first principle means that the ENP should remain one, and not be broken down in different regional dimensions; the second means that the progress of each of the ENP countries in its relationship with Brussels will be determined by its commitment and behaviour, regardless of its geographical positioning. Italy thinks that an emphasis on the different regional dimensions of the ENP risks contradicting the principle of differentiation itself. Therefore, if one ENP country carries out a significant reform of its political and economic system, it should be rewarded, whether it is an Eastern or a Southern neighbour. Some Italian MPs are in favour of new initiatives that, while not envisaging EU membership, can build on the ENP and even go further than that. For example, Sandro Gozi, a member of the Italian lower chamber (”Camera dei deputati”) and former advisor of Romano Prodi at the European Commission, believes that the ENP has not yet displayed its full potential. Therefore, any initiative that is aimed at overcoming the “in-out alternative” – that is the alternative between acceding and not acceding to the EU – and does not run counter to the principles of the ENP itself, is to 967 be welcome. Secondly, the Italian government is opposed to a proliferation of a plethora of initiates that might overlap and generate a feeling of confusion among EU’s partners, privileging an approach based on projects and practical results, rather than one based on abstract formulas. 968 This is one of the main reasons why the Italian government warmly welcomed Sarkozy’s idea for a Mediterranean Union since its early formulations. A summit of the three biggest Mediterranean EU countries – namely France, Italy and Spain – was held in Rome on December 20th, 2007. On that occasion, some of the main elements of the new initiatives were outlined, such as the importance of the political impulse, the need for mobilising civil societies, the approach based on the realisation of concrete projects and the fact that new Union for the
Interviews with officials of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 967 Interview with MP Sandro Gozi, July 2008. 968 Interviews with officials of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
966

Mediterranean (UfM) would be based on the principle of cooperation, and not on that of integration. The Union for the Mediterranean enjoys bipartisan support among Italian MPs, as it is shown by the approval by both the government coalition and the opposition of two resolutions (one by the upper chamber (“Senato della Repubblica”) in July and the other by the lower house in June), endorsing the new initiative. Italy endorsed the final format of the UfM that brings together all the EU countries, the Southern partners of the Barcelona Process, including Turkey, plus the riparian Western Balkans states, such as Croatia, Montenegro, etc. In particular, the Italian government supported the idea of launching projects with the Southern partners on civilian and maritime 969 Italy also expressed its protection. preference for having a Southern city (i.e. Tunis or Tangeri) as host to the future Secretariat of the UfM. As for the principles of the UfM, the Italian government is satisfied with the new approach based more on cooperation, rather than on integration. According to the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, one of the main shortcomings associated with the EuroMediterranean Partnership is that it generated the feeling among the Southern partners that 970 the EU was trying to impose its own models. On the contrary, the UfM is trying to avoid generating this perception. According to Frattini, there exists no alternative: a ‘partenariat’ implies that the two parts are considered as equals, and whatever deviation from this pattern is considered as a new form of colonialism. 971 Also, the Italian government suggested a less interventionist approach on the issue of democracy promotion, referring to the fact that when one tries to export a Western-oriented model, the outcome may run counter to the expectations, as the results of the elections in Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. 972 As far as the reactions among the academics and researchers, the EU’s relations with its Eastern and Southern neighbours have attracted much attention in the past years. As
Interviews with officials of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 970 L. Leone: Mediterraneo, gioco alla pari, Il Secolo XIX, th July 13 , 2008. 971 Ibid. 972 Ibid.
969

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for the draft report of the European Parliament, it was not much discussed and it is too early to assess the reactions to the final text, as this was approved only on July 10th. The same applies to the Swedish-Polish proposal for a European Partnership: it is too early to provide an evaluation, and most analysts will probably take it into consideration when the European Commission will publish the relative communication in the spring of 2009. UfM aroused much interest and many expectations, even though some of its shortcomings have been highlighted. According to Roberto Aliboni, vice-president of the “Istituto Affari Internazionali”, the new initiative has a positive potential and, compared with the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, features a more counterbalanced and egalitarian relationship between the two 973 However, he shores of the Mediterranean. warned, the enhanced legitimisation of the Southern partners may not lead to a more deep and cooperative political dialogue. On the contrary, they are now in a better position to say ‘No’ to the EU. 974

Latvia has dealt with many of the issues addressed or alluded to in the Draft Report via the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which, according to a recently issued nonpaper of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the outset the document underlines the ENP’s continued usefulness in promoting and deepening the Union’s relations with its partner countries and advocates strengthening that policy. It recommends a pragmatic and flexible approach to address more effectively the various needs of the neighbours and considers the implementation of existing ENP commitments as the main priority in the short term. At the same time, the European Union should explore new ideas, such as regional cooperation, which could add a new dimension to the ENP. Acknowledging that the partner countries have different views about the future of their relations with the EU, the ministry believes that one of the preconditions for the successful implementation of the ENP is the European Union’s ability to respond properly to the initiatives of partner countries. The ministry also believes that the Union should state clearly that the goal of the ENP is not to restrain partner countries from possible membership of the European Union in the long-term, but rather to concentrate efforts on the next generation agreements and to set the mid-term goals as being the development of a common economic space, a common area of freedom, security and justice and the expansion of the energy community. Comparing the Barcelona Process and the Union of the Mediterranean, the ministry points out that the EU has no equivalent regional framework for its Eastern neighbours and, therefore, recommends a multilateral framework for regional co-operation with EU’s Eastern neighbours. Regional cooperation The ENP action plans have been very useful in promoting and bringing forward the reform agenda in the Eastern neighbourhood. However, the EU also needs a clear multilateral framework for regional co-operation with the Eastern neighbours. That would give an additional dimension and dynamics to the ENP by increasing synergy and strengthening dialogue. The regional co-operation among the countries in the Eastern neighbourhood has been

Concentric circles around the EU?

Latvia ∗
(Latvian Institute of International Affairs)

Concentric Circles around the EU? The View from Latvia To date there has been no public discussion of the draft report to the European Parliament concerning EU policies toward its neighbours. Nonetheless, that should not be interpreted either as a Latvian dismissal of the report, lack of interest in the EU neighbourhood, or disrespect for Elmar Brok. Considering the views stated by various government officials and Latvian members of the European Parliament, many of the proposals in the report appear to echo also their views. For example, Latvia has consistently supported the notion of a united European Union, rather than a European Union of multiple configurations, an idea that is discussed in paragraph 8 of the draft report and depicted as detrimental for the EU.

R. Aliboni: La nuova Unione per il Mediterraneo tra luci e ombre, Affarinternazionali, available under: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=892 (last th access: 28 of August 2008). 974 Ibid. ∗ Latvian Institute of International Affairs.

973

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dominated by post-Soviet formats driven mainly by Russia (for example, Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organisation). However, the countries from the Eastern neighbourhood have clearly expressed their wish to also see a European dimension. Most of the countries perceive the EU as an attractive alternative to the postSoviet processes. The EU can play a constructive role in regional development. Stability and prosperity of its neighbourhood is in the European Union’s interests. That requires a strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights, as well as sustainable and balanced economic and social development. The EU needs a multilateral framework for regional co-operation, which would promote European values and standards in the eastern neighbourhood. The platform for regional cooperation could be a political interparliamentary dialogue involving the European Parliament and national parliaments as well as practical cooperation on issues like trade, energy, environment, justice and home affairs. Senior officials could be involved. Other regional actors could also be invited on an ad hoc basis.

Undersecretary of the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Žygimantas Pavilionis, emphasized that the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty regarding the special relations with neighbouring countries are interpreted by Lithuania as the readiness to develop cooperation with neighbours, but this in no way can become an alternative for membership in the EU. If we want the EU to play a global role we have to seek for an open, objective and just policy when the perspectives of a European member state would depend only on its will to implement the necessary reforms and preparedness for membership. Setting artificial borders or artificial drag of negotiations with Turkey and Croatia would send a serious negative signal about EU reliability both for the countries, seeking membership as well as the 976 whole international community. For a stronger European neighbourhood policy With concern to the European Neighbourhood Policy, Lithuania wants this policy to be as strong as possible. As the undersecretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry Laimonas TalatKelpša said, the European Neighbourhood Policy should not remain where it is and should be expanded. According to him, it might be discussed how quickly and towards which direction – deeper or wider – it should be 977 Speaking about the European expanded. Neighbourhood Policy, Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Petras Vaitiekūnas stressed that there is a necessity to continue seeking for more efficient results in concrete fields – expanding free trade, solving frozen conflicts more efficiently, facilitate visa regime. 978

Concentric circles around the EU?

Lithuania

∗

(Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University)

No artificial impediments for the further enlargement The draft report prepared by Elmar Brok did not become an object of public discussion in Lithuania. With regard to the EU enlargement, Lithuania has always favoured the ‘open door’ policy. Regarding Lithuanian strategic priorities, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus declared that one of the Lithuanian priorities is to guarantee that the space governed by European principles would spread as widely as possible and according to him, to implement this goal there is no better 975 instrument than the EU enlargement policy.
∗

Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University. News agency ELTA: V. Adamkus: tapusi ES ir NATO nare, Lietuva kelia naujus strateginius iššūkius (V. Adamkus: after becoming a member of the EU and NATO, Lithuania sets new strategic challenges), th May 8 , 2008, available under: http://www.euro.lt/lt/naujienos/apie-lietuvos-naryste975

europos-sajungoje/naujienos/3268/ (last access: August 28th, 2008). 976 Žygimantas Pavilionis: The speech of undersecretary of the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry Žygimantas Pavilionis at the conference “Lisbon treaty: what is next?”, th January 17 , 2008, available under: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?1898845102 (last access: th August 28 , 2008). 977 Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry: Neišnaudoti mūsų šalies pranašumų Europos kaimynystės politikoje būtųn aplaidu ir žalinga Lietuvai (It would be careless and dangerous not to use the advantages of our country in the European neighbourhood policy), a press release of the th Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry, February 13 , 2008, available under: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?1169809006 th (last access: August 28 , 2008). 978 Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry: Lietuvos užsienio reikalų ministras: Europos Sąjunga turi įvertinti Moldovos pažangą įgyvendinant reformas (Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister: the European Union has to evaluate the progress of Moldova in implementing reforms), a press release of th the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry, February 19 , 2008, available under:

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Therefore there are quite a few debates about further EU enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy, but the alternative forms to the membership and the Neighbourhood Policy are not discussed in Lithuania.

the Arab League, and has called for the establishment of a permanent EU-Arab League forum. In fact, the first meeting of this type was held in Malta in November 2007, and Malta would like to see this process become a fixed event in the annual EU calendar. The EU and Arab League Foreign Ministers helped to facilitate the task of promoting a more enhanced structured dialogue between the European Union and the League of Arab States and its member states and should serve to launch a regular Euro-Arab forum of interaction. A better structured EU-Arab League political dialogue will focus on building confidence and trust and strengthening policy measures between Europe and the Arab world on global and strategic issues of mutual interest. An open exchange of views on such aspects as development, dialogue among cultures, potential areas of cooperation, and the general situation in the Middle East, will provide an important visible signal to everyone that EuroArab commonalities outweigh the threat of extremism and fundamentalism. The Maltese initiative has been a tangible contribution by Malta to the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. As a member of the EU, Malta has consistently navigated through contemporary EuroMediterranean international relations with the specific objective of contributing to peace and prosperity across the Euro-Mediterranean area. The EU-Arab League forum of enhanced cooperation underscores Malta’s vocation of clearly highlighting Euro-Mediterranean security challenges and concerns. Closer Euro-Arab co-operation would of course adopt all of the existing mechanisms of partnership (association agreements, action plans, trade provisions and financial cooperation) that already exist through the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and European Neighbourhood Policy. The main goal of this initiative is to create a more positive atmosphere between Europe and the Arab world in all sectors, including politics, education, culture and business. The success of this initiative will lie in the informality of regular interaction between the two shores of the Mediterranean. When it comes to immediate practical forms of co-operation, EU and Arab League member states should seek to cultivate a pre-emptive

Concentric circles around the EU?

Luxembourg

∗

(Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman)

Widening and deepening parallel processes The draft report itself did not engender major discussions in Luxembourg. The EU enlargement strategy and European Neighbourhood Policy dealt with in the paper have been commented on other occasions. Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn affirms: ”With the negative result of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty the expansion process of the EU comes to a halt 979 and we are falling back on the Nice Treaty” . For Jean Asselborn, the enlargement process and the consolidation process have to run parallel. “We have to watch out that we don’t slam the doors shut here and create a lot of bitterness, especially on the Balkans issue. We know that instability could reoccur in the Balkans” 980.

Concentric circles around the EU?

Malta

∗

(Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta)

The EU-Arab League forum Malta fully supports closer relations with those countries that are neighbours to the EU. If membership is not on the horizon or compatible with the Copenhagen criteria, then alternative modalities of cooperation should be sought. Since becoming a member state of the EU in 2004, Malta has for example been championing closer ties between the EU and
http://www.urm.lt/index.php?1638827625 (last access: th August 28 , 2008). ∗ Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Européennes Robert Schuman. 979 Der Standart: Asselborn: Ein zweites Referendum, es gibt keinen anderen Ausweg, 19.6.2008. 980 German Times: Let’s have solidarity, 8.7.2008. ∗ Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta.

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dialogue that addresses in a more comprehensive manner the plethora of security challenges existing in the Mediterranean including the management of illegal migration, the surveillance of pollution, the monitoring of fishing activities and the carrying out of search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean. A more enhanced structured dialogue between Europe and the Arab world will also strengthen efforts aimed at creating a functioning free trade area between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Closer EUArab relations could serve as a basis upon which long-term cooperation in the areas of European Security and Defence Policy and energy could be fostered. The success or failure of coordinating Euro-Arab security and energy policies will determine future relations between these two adjacent regions of the Mediterranean. Such an engagement should focus on immediately enhancing Euro-Arab research and development in the field of innovation, especially when it comes to renewable and alternative energy. Malta’s Euro-Mediterranean Initiative for Technology and Innovation is already starting to implement such an agenda. The EU-Arab policy dialogue mechanism will also add momentum to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) that is being implemented and which seeks to integrate southern and eastern neighbours closer into the fabric of European society. Future Euro-Arab co-operation needs to ensure that people to people interaction is at the forefront, especially young people. It is essential that a much larger number of students from the Arab world be given the opportunity to study at EU universities. The Bologna Process must be made functional to them. The same goes for joint EU-Arab research projects. Complementing the EuroMediterranean Partnership scholarship scheme launched last June in Cairo, the EuroArab League initiative should seek to introduce a package of programmes that seeks to tap into the wealth of intelligence in the region via scholarships, seminars, and workshops. Promoting closer Euro-Arab co-operation in the educational and commercial fields can only take place if both public and private stakeholders work hand in hand with a longterm perspective to attract a larger number of European and Arab professionals to their

shores. This will of course require an updating of procedures for visas. Last but not least, an enhanced Euro-Arab dialogue needs to focus much more seriously on climate policy and the implications of climate change on the Mediterranean. 2008 marks the twentieth anniversary of the adoption by the UN General Assembly of its resolution 43/53 which recognised that ‘Climate Change is a Common Concern of Mankind’ and led to the adoption of the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change. This resolution was the result of the initiative taken by Malta in September 1988 to place for the first time the problem of climate change on the international political agenda. The EuroArab League initiative provides an excellent opportunity to further advance cooperation in this strategically important sector. Now that the Maltese foreign policy initiative to commence a EU-Arab League structured dialogue has been achieved, Malta believes that all actors involved in this exercise need to focus on delivering practical modalities of cooperation. Such an enhanced dialogue will also provide more dynamism and substance to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP), ENP, and also sub-regional groupings such as the Mediterranean Forum and the West Mediterranean Forum also know as the “5 + 5 group” (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania and Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Malta) that recently met in Morocco. In such an exercise of network building one must also remember the very important role that Mediterranean municipalities can play. If we can manage to establish a truly interactive network between them, this will go a long way to fostering a closer understanding of one another. The long-term objective of an enhanced political dialogue between the EU and the Arab world should be to foster a more conducive political environment within which a political dialogue that aims towards a convergence rather than a clash of civilisations is achieved. Malta has also been promoting consistently closer EU ties with its immediate sub regions, in particular the Maghreb. Through such initiatives as the “5 + 5 group”, and the Mediterranean Forum, Malta has been seeking to promote closer political, economic, and cultural ties between the EU and its southern neighbours.

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Thus, in the last two decades, numerous initiatives have been put forward to stimulate the concept of regionalism across the Mediterranean. The most prominent of these are the “5+5 group” that brought together five southern European states with their Maghreb counterparts, the Mediterranean Forum initiated by Egypt, the Maltese proposal to create a Council of the Mediterranean, and the Italian-Spanish proposal to launch a Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean. Other regional initiatives include the initiative to create an Arab Maghreb Union, which was established in 1989, and the European Union-led EMP and ENP and more recently the French proposal to establish a Mediterranean Union. Efforts to reactivate sub-regional cooperative initiatives in recent years have helped to improve regional relations across the Mediterranean. The lack of coordination between the different regional groupings and the heterogeneous nature of the grouping’s membership have, however, not triggered any specific attention to the goal of building a more integrated and thus competitive Mediterranean region.

enlargement, jeopardising support for European integration in general. Political parties concluded a period of consolidation and reorientation was needed. During the electoral campaign of 2006, the Christian Democratic Party (CDA) suggested an alternative form of EU-membership, called The idea “partenariat” (partnership). 983 appeared in full in the coalition agreement of February 2007, 984 with the new governing coalition of CDA, the socialist party “PvdA” and the small Christian Party “ChristenUnie” subscribing to the idea that “countries can have in addition to, or in anticipation of, the candidate-membership status of the EU, new forms of status at their disposal (like the partnership)”. 985 However, the characteristics of this apparently new form of alternative membership were not elaborated upon further, neither were its goals, context and geographical scope. Compared to the official position of the previous government, which had expressed its reservations against any form of in-between membership, this new form of partnership was a major innovation. It should be kept in mind that this innovation was developed by the CDA, a party that is against EU membership by Turkey. It could therefore rightly be considered as a way to keep this country out of the Union, particularly since the text continues as follows “for example, as a step in between if they can not (yet) meet the criteria for 986 Responding to (candidate)membership. critiques that the government should come up with a more concrete elaboration of the concept 987, the official government EU agenda “State of the European Union” announced that the “partneriat” would be further developed. 988
CDA: Verkiezingsprogramma 2006-2011. Vertrouwen in Nederland. Vertrouwen in elkaar, p. 96. 984 Parliamentary factions of CDA, PvdA and ChristenUnie: Coalitieakkoord tussen de Tweede Kamerfracties van CDA, PvdA en ChristenUnie. samen werken, samen leven, 7 February 2007, p. 13. 985 Original: “Landen kunnen in aanvulling op, of vooruitlopend op, het kandidaat-lidmaatschap van de EU beschikken over nieuwe statusvormen (zoals het partenariaat).” Translation by the authors. CDA: CDA Verkiezingsprogramma, p. 96. 986 Original: “Bijvoorbeeld als tussenstap als men (nog) niet aan de criteria voor (kandidaat)lidmaatschap kan voldoen.” Translation and italicization by the authors. Ibid. 987 Jan Rood: Partenariaat? Is dat iets tussen wal en schip?, in: Staatscourant, 12 March 2007. 988 Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken: Staat van de Europese Unie, 18 September 2007, p.21. See also: Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV): The European Union’s new Eastern Neighbours, No. 44, July 2005, p. 36.
983

Concentric circles around the EU?

Netherlands

∗

(Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’)

Towards a “partenariat” Up to the referendum in June 2005, further enlargement of the Union was not a real issue in Dutch politics. The majority of the mainstream political parties in The Netherlands favoured (further) enlargement. After the ‘No’ vote to the Constitutional Treaty in 2005, an evaluation through focus groups 981 and a nonrepresentative inquiry through the Internet in March and April 2006 982 indicated that the general public did not support further
Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’. Anker Solutions: Kom terug naar de camping! Tijd voor een reality check. Eindrapport focusgroepen Buitenlandse Zaken, September 2005, pp. 12-13. 982 Anker Solutions: NEDERLANDINEUROPA.NL. Eindrapport Ministerie Van Buitenlandse Zaken, May 2006, pp.18-20, available under: http://www.minbuza.nl/binaries/pdf/eu-actueel/eugrondwet/nederlandineuropa_rapport.pdf (last access: 26 August 2008). On the website www.NederlandinEuropa.nl (last access: 26 August 2008) 97,452 participants filled in a questionnaire about the (future) position of the Netherlands in Europe.
981 ∗

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In a letter to the Dutch parliament in May 2008, the concept was further developed. 989 The idea of partnership is in line with the discussion in many member states about the scope of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) since its inception in 2004. In 2005, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a memorandum to parliament about “the borders of the European Union”. The document describes that it is difficult to determine if a nation is European or not, but the countries south of the Mediterranean, on the African continent, cannot join the European Union. But this is more complicated for the diffuse, Eastern border and a request for membership from the Ukraine, Moldova or Belarus cannot be refused 990 on geographical grounds. The recent idea, put forward by Elmar Brok, for further differentiation between the southern neighbours and the ‘European’ eastern neighbours is a consequence of this viewpoint. 991 It has received no media coverage in the Netherlands, but the idea exposes the foundations of the discussion about ENP: the (lack of) conditionality and the holistic, unilateral approach towards the ‘ring of friends’, the ‘one-size-fits-all approach’. 992 The “partenariat” tries to solve this by being exclusively available for the six European neighbours. It offers a flexible, tailor made instrument, when the opportunities of the ENP have reached their maximum potential. In its contents this new policy is similar to the European Economic Area (EEA) (EEA Plus), with full participation in the internal market but without an accession perspective. It is expected that “with this (policy) it will meet the 993 expectations of the Eastern neighbours.” But given the priority of the foreign policy of Ukraine and Moldova, membership of the EU, this new concentric circle in the form of a “partenariat” can hardly be a substitute for actual membership. For countries, a privileged
Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken: kamerbrief over de notitie inzake het partenariaat, 14 May 2008. 990 Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal: Staat van de Europese Unie. Uitbreiding van de Europese Unie, 17 March 2008, No. 18, p. 5. 991 European Parliament: Draft report on the Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper, (2007/2271 (INI)) PE404.495v02-00, 3 April 2008. 992 Rob Boudewijn/Evelyn van Kampen/Jan Rood: Overview PaperEU policy seminar. Exploring the scope of the Europeaan Neighbourhood Policy. Towards new forms of partnership?, available under: http://www.clingendael.nl/publications/2008/20080411_ces p_paper_seminar.pdf (last access: 26 August 2008). 993 Original: “Daarmee wordt recht gedaan aan de verwachtingen van deze Europese buren.” Translation by the authors. Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken: kamerbrief over de notitie inzake het partenariaat, 14 May 2008.
989

status is only attractive if it is not an obstacle to actual membership, or if it is perceived as bringing this goal closer. The discussion in the Netherlands therefore focuses on the question if this privileged status should be developed only for countries with a perspective on membership. Otherwise, it would be counterproductive. 994

Concentric circles around the EU?

Poland ∗
(Foundation for European Studies - European Institute)

Polish MEPs keep EU’s entrance door open The Polish position on Elmar Brok’s proposal was presented and very well enforced within the European Parliament’s debates on this report. The MEPs from new member states (and especially from Poland) had several concerns regarding Elmar Brok’s first draft report on the European Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper. Most importantly Polish MEPs opposed the formulation of any additional conditions necessary for the accession to the EU. The original draft contained quite a detailed description of the so-called ‘integration capacity’, as well as a formulation according to which “new member states should resolve all its internal issues, particularly those concerning its territorial and constitutional set-up before enlargement”. The draft also conceded that further enlargement had to be followed by a period of adequate consolidation, and the lack thereof could lead to “a union of multiple configurations, with core countries moving towards closer integration”. A second objection was linked with Brok’s idea that the gap existing between the European Union’s enlargement strategy and its neighbourhood strategy needs to be filled by some sort of intermediate step, such as ‘free trade area plus’. In the early stages of the work on the report the MEP’s from new member states convinced Brok to concede that if external contractual frameworks were to be structured as concentric circles, those circles had to be permeable and that acceding states have to be able “to move form one status to the other, if they so wish and if they fulfil the criteria pertaining to each specific framework”. The third problem was linked to the
Jan Rood/Rob Boudewijn/Tomas Rieu: Van EUpartnerschap tot –lidmaatschap. Veel etiketten voor één envelop, in: Internationale Spectator, September 2007, p. 417. ∗ Foundation for European Studies - European Institute.
994

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assessment of the previous enlargements, which according to many MEP’s, was too lukewarm towards new member states in the first draft. The report was so contentious that it divided the biggest political groups in two, and the vote had to be postponed for more than a month. Finally, many of the objections by the deputies from new member states were taken into account by the rapporteur. Integration capacity was defined in a clearer way (although, according to many MEP’s, still in a too detailed manner). Paragraph 6 now states that “acceding member state should resolve its main (not all) internal problems” and that the EU should be helpful in solving them. The report still talks about the need of adequate consolidation but now says that the lack thereof could “damage the Union’s internal cohesion”, not “lead to a union of multiple configurations”. The last version of the report also affirms “participation in the European Neighbourhood Policy does neither in principle nor in practice constitute a substitute for membership or a stage leading necessarily to membership”. It also adds that neighbours would participate in an intermediate step to membership on a totally voluntary basis and that such step would facilitate the deployment of all instruments available to the EU in order to help these countries on their path towards full membership. In order to placate the new member states the past enlargements are accessed in a very positive light, as “a great success, benefiting the old as well as the new EU member states by fostering economic growth, promoting social progress and bringing stability, freedom and prosperity to the 995 European continent” . In the latest version of the report all of the references to the Lisbon Treaty were struck down (as they are contained in other reports). In addition, at the latest moment Elmar Brok decided to include in his report a positive reference to the new Swedish-Polish proposal concerning Eastern Partnership. After most of the concerns of the new member states were accounted for (albeit not in a perfect form) the report was finally agreed upon and passed in the foreign affairs committee (55 votes for, 1 against, 9 abstentions). In this context, the scenario of differentiation is not seen as credible by most Polish politicians
Although Tune Kelam’s amendment according to which enlargement contributes to competitiveness of the EU was rejected by the Socialists against the wishes of Elmar Brok himself (the ballot was lost by 34 against 32 votes).
995

and specialists, as most of them agree that it is impossible to realise under current treaties. Even though the government treats the talk about a ‘Hard Core Europe’ as a usual threat used in times of distress (accession negotiations, budgetary bargaining, haggling over treaty provisions), it brands such notions from some European politicians as ‘counterproductive’.

Concentric circles around the EU?

Portugal ∗
(Institute for Strategic and International Studies)

Great interest in Mediterranean neighbours There was no public reaction to the draft report. The question of enlargement has no great salience in public debate, except, to some degree, of the Turkish case, where Portuguese official policy in favour of enlargement seems to enjoy broad public support. In general, the Portuguese elite and public opinion, as expressed in polls, is favourable to further enlargement, including Turkey. This seems to be the result both of a normative impulse – that would account for the small oscillations of support for enlargement, even, so far, in times of crisis – of providing others with the opportunities of development and democratic normalisation within the EU from which Portugal benefited; as well as of the more instrumental argument of seeking an ever larger area of security and prosperity in 996 Europe. This traditional position would seem to point to a rejection of concentric circles and alternative forms of membership other than full membership of the EU. This has so far, indeed, been the case regarding Turkey. At the same time membership is not in the cards for Portugal’s closest Southern Mediterranean neighbours – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia – nonEuropean countries where Portugal has very significant long-term interests and major investments. Consequently, the Portuguese diplomatic and political elite would welcome some flexibility with enhanced and more
Institute for Strategic and International Studies. See Bruno Martins/Bruno C. Reis: Report for Portugal, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (ed.): EU-27 Watch, No. 6, March 2008, Berlin, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-27_Watch_No_6.pdf (last access. 25.08.2008); Bruno C. Reis: Report for Portugal, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (ed.): EU-25/27 Watch, No. 5, September 2007, Berlin, available under: http://www.iepberlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/E U-25_27_Watch_No_5.pdf (last access: 29.08.2008).
996 ∗

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institutionalised cooperation with those cases in mind, even if no concrete proposals seem to have emerged.

Concentric circles around the EU?

Romania

∗

(European Institute of Romania)

Possible alternatives to ‘classical’ bilateral arrangements: ‘thematic cooperation’, “networks of regional arrangements around the EU“ The need to reassess, diversify and consolidate the instruments, which the ENP has been endowed with so far, seems to have been a priority topic of the debates taking place in Romania over the last six months. However, the Elmar Brok draft report does not appear to have constituted a reference of these debates, as it has not generated reactions directly and explicitly associated with it. The recent developments in the realm of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), embodied by the two important projects – the French initiative of a Mediterranean Union and, subsequently, the Polish-Swedish reply with an Eastern Partnership – have brought back to the attention of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and of foreign policy analysts as well) to the issue of possible regional cooperation scenarios, especially beyond the EU’s Eastern borders. Among possible alternatives to the ‘classical’ bilateral arrangements provided by the ENP action plans, Foreign Minister Lazăr Comănescu mentioned, on the occasion of a conference devoted to ENP issues held in 997 Warsaw, the importance of the development by the European Union of a “different type of instruments that involve more of its neighbours in what I would call EU-led or EU-inspired multilateral arrangements”. Against the background of the European press 998 having already signalled the reticence of Romania and Bulgaria concerning the recent initiative’s potential to undermine the earlier-launched project of the Black Sea Synergy, the Romanian Foreign Minister was thus making a direct reference to the Eastern Partnership jointly proposed by Poland and Sweden in May 2008, which is a project based on the principle
∗

of a multilateral cooperation among the countries located in the Eastern neighbourhood of the EU. Without expressing criticism as to the viability of such an arrangement concerning cooperation beyond the Union’s Eastern borders, Minister Comănescu emphasised the need for complementarity between the projects relevant for the Eastern dimension of the ENP, that is, between the Eastern Partnership and the Black Sea Synergy: “Romania has supported this for a long time, when we were discussing about thematic cooperation within the ENP. […] To be frank with you, the Synergy, albeit less ambitious than originally expected, provides a framework for promoting regional cooperation among partners rather than bilateral ties between partners and the EU. The Black Sea Synergy has the advantage of encompassing under one vision, the ENP, the Four Spaces of Cooperation with Russia and the Accession 999 Negotiations with Turkey.” The scenario of a ‘thematic cooperation’ – which is a defining feature of the Black Sea Synergy – promotes, according to the vision of the Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister, the principles of openness, flexibility, projectoriented approach, cost-sharing and trust building, which can constitute essential elements for encouraging and consolidating partnerships among the countries in the Eastern neighbourhood in important policy areas such as transport, environment and migration. Concerning the connection of the ENP to EU’s enlargement strategy by possibly using the cooperation framework offered by the Eastern Partnership as an intermediary step towards a subsequent opening of accession negotiations with some countries belonging to EU’s Eastern neighbourhood, the opinion of the Romanian official seems slightly different from the one expressed by his Polish counterpart, Radosław Sikorski. The stakes incorporated by the two visions are different. The Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister emphasises the importance of consolidating the Eastern dimension of the ENP in the context of the need for reviewing the European Security Strategy: “Being neighbours should be a privilege, not a curse. This principle must be reflected in our effort to review the European Security Strategy for our neighbourhood, especially the Eastern
999

European Institute of Romania. Lazăr Comănescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs: speech on the occasion of the International Conference on Neighbourhood Policy “A Common Approach to the Neighbourhood”, 28 June 2008, Warsaw. 998 EU Observer.
997

Lazăr Comănescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs: speech on the occasion of the International Conference on Neighbourhood Policy “A Common Approach to the Neighbourhood”, 28 June 2008, Warsaw.

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one”. 1000 Meanwhile the Polish Foreign Affairs pleads in favour of an Eastern regional cooperation seen as a preparatory stage for an EU membership scenario: “To the south, we have neighbours of Europe. To the east, we have European neighbours [...] they all have the right one day to apply [for EU membership]. We all know the EU has enlargement fatigue. We have to use this time to prepare as much as possible so that when the fatigue passes, membership becomes 1001 something natural.” However, the parallel between the two quoted visions could be seen as an outcome of a subjective interpretation, taking into consideration the fact that these statements were made at different moments and in totally different contexts. The two Foreign Affairs Minister had an official meeting in Warsaw on June 27th and, according to a press release issued by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they agreed that the development of the ENP’s Eastern dimension should be based upon the added value and complementarity’s principles. „Romania and Poland are key actors in promoting the ENP, and this particular policy is important for the EU, but for the whole Eastern region as well, aiming at enlarging the European stability and prosperity space. Romania will continue to particularly support the Black Sea Synergy, but it is also interested in any initiative able to build stronger partnerships among the Eastern countries of 1002 our continent” , said Lazăr Comănescu after the discussions with Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski. Moreover, Romania’s view about the transformation of the Black Sea region in the context of strengthening the Eastern dimension of the ENP tends to favour the idea of “engaging Russia in the Black Sea vicinity in a pragmatic, responsible and cooperative manner.” 1003 Reviewing the logic of the ENP against the background of re-thinking the European Security Strategy should, thus, aim
1000 1001

at a balance of the EU’s priorities vis-à-vis all of its ‘neighbourhoods’, as well as between the bilateral and regional approaches. Beyond the shortcomings deriving from the overlapping of two different initiatives for the consolidation of the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood, the parallel (and, possibly competing) development of the two projects might have an impact on the relations between the EU and Russia. The offensive undertones of the Polish-Swedish proposal might, by comparison, shed a more positive light for the Kremlin leaders, on the alternative of cooperation in the framework offered by the Black Sea Synergy. Another means of pursuing the EU’s security interests by laying partnership foundations for its neighbourhood, which the Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister has evoked on the occasion of the above-mentioned event recently organised in Poland is “the instrument of the network of regional arrangements around the EU“, through which the European Union might opt for selective associations. This seems to be the alternative coming closest to the vision of “mutually permeable concentric circles” around the EU sketched by Elmar Brok in his report of April 2008 submitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament. Although not presented in great detail by Lazăr Comănescu, the scenario of a network of regional arrangements around the EU would seem to focus primarily on those issues relevant for the EDSP area, particularly on its ‘non-militarised hard component’ being thus compatible mostly with the operational spectre of cooperation missions concerning assistance for reconstruction and reform. The announcement of the Eastern Partnership initiative has drawn the attention of the 1004 particularly in view of the Romanian press, fact that the ‘discreetness’ surrounding the preparation of this project, without consultation or prior discussions with the potential actors of this partnership, among which Romania and (even more surprising) the Ukraine, has triggered some suspicions linked to the possible negative implications of Poland’s and Sweden’s initiative on the still fragile Black Sea Synergy. This lead to some of the earlier expressed concerns by the Secretary of State for European Affairs in the Romanian Ministry

Ibid. Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski, available under: http://euobserver.com/9/26211 (last access: 27 May 2005). 1002 Lazăr Comănescu’s statement after the meeting with Radoslaw Sikorski on June 27 in Warsaw. See: Romanian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, press release, 28 June 2008, available under: http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=36377&idlnk= 2&cat=4 (last access: 22 August 2008). 1003 Lazăr Comănescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs: speech on the occasion of the International Conference on Neighbourhood Policy “A Common Approach to the Neighbourhood”, 28 June 2008, Warsaw.

1004

Luca Niculescu: Romania, Poland and the EU’s Eastern Policy, in: Dilema Veche No. 225, 7 June 2008, available under: http://www.dilemaveche.ro/index.php?nr=225&cmd=articol &id=8406 (last access: 22 August 2008).

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of Foreign Affairs, Răduta Dana Matache. 1005 Apart from a balanced presentation of the concept on which the Eastern Partnership is founded, as well as of the statements made by the protagonists of the new Eastern regional cooperation initiative, foreign policy analysts commented in some detail about the risks of overlap between the two projects aiming at consolidating the Eastern neighbourhood area and the obstacles which might confront such an initiative at bringing countries to the negotiation table which, although share similar interests in the area, do not trust each other.

than in the EU. 1007 While former Prime Minister Dzurinda made comparatively more lukewarm statements on prospects for Turkey’s membership in the EU, he also sought domestic consensus in Slovakia’s parliament in support of opening accession negotiations with Ankara in 2005. In short, since May 2004 we do observe a large degree of continuity in Slovakia’s stances on broad issues of EU deepening and widening. Slovakia has also supported the development of the European Neighbourhood Policy but has not really come up with any specific initiatives like Poland did with its Eastern Partnership or Bulgaria and Romania with their Black Sea Synergy.

Concentric circles around the EU?

Slovakia

∗

(Slovak Foreign Policy Association)

Concentric circles around the EU?

Principle of gradual deepening and widening There was no discussion or public mention of the motion presented by Elmar Brok on the Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper. Slovakia generally subscribes to the principles of gradual deepening and widening of the EU. It has joined the mainstream of EU countries that – unlike even some other new states, most notably Poland – do not fundamentally discuss the political and geographic limits of integration. Slovakia’s officials are essentially happy with the state of the Union. As outlined above the country supports (any) EU institutional reform. Slovakia’s politicians have also repeatedly favoured further EU enlargement, especially to the countries of the Western Balkans and 1006 Prime namely to Croatia and Serbia. Minister Fico also stated his explicit support to the ambitions of Turkey to join the European Union. Fico sees Turkey’s membership in the EU as “added value for the Union and also for Turkey, from economic, political and strategic standpoints”. Moreover, the current Prime Minister also underlined that Turkey could not be disqualified from its accession process only because of its different predominant religion

Slovenia

∗

(Centre of International Relations)

EU doors need to remain open Elmar Bork’s draft report has largely gone unnoticed in the Slovenian media and is not debated amongst the political elites. Slovenia’s strong stance is that doors need to remain open for the South-Eastern European states to join the EU once they comply with the criteria. The EU needs to be willing to embrace them; the institutional capacity is largely a question of will. As for the space beyond South-Eastern Europe, the Slovenian government is not opposing further enlargements, provided the accession states comply with accession criteria. A European perspective for the Ukraine is not disputed, but it needs to conclude the present negotiations for the new enhanced agreement and then prove itself capable of complying with it. It is acknowledged that other member states are interested in some eastern neighbours joining the EU, on the similar grounds as Slovenia is interested in the South-Eastern European states once they comply with the criteria, the rest is simply a question of political powerstructures. Slovenia is not however opposing further enlargements on ideological grounds. According to a Slovenian diplomat, the EU should continue to communicate and cooperate with the countries of these areas with a view of EU membership; however the EU should not lead the states into a belief of a fast membership. The process should therefore be
1007

1005

“Our only preoccupation is that any new proposal should complement, and not replace, the already existing policies”, said the Secretary of State for European Affairs within the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Răduta Dana Matache. See Luca Niculescu: Romania, Poland and the EU’s Eastern Policy, in: Dilema Veche No. 225, 7 June 2008, available under: http://www.dilemaveche.ro/index.php?nr=225&cmd=articol &id=8406 (last access: 22 August 2008). ∗ Slovak Foreign Policy Association. 1006 Slovakia has not officially recognized the independence of Kosovo.

Fico spoke about Turkey’s prospects for EU membership in front of the parliamentary Committee for European affairs on December 11, 2006 (Source: CTK, December 11, 2006). ∗ Centre of International Relations.

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based on instruments providing enough motivation for patience and gradual but firm progress. 1008 The European Neighbourhood Policy has to remain vivid and in force. During its EUPresidency in the first half of 2008, Slovenia included the Southern European neighbourhood among its foreign policy priority, next to the previously sole priority of Western Balkans. The state has started to promote itself as the most Mediterranean among the Central European member states and as the most Central European among the Mediterranean ones. Its special achievement is the launch of the “Euro-Mediterranean University”, based in the coastal city of Piran. Slovenia has intensely supported the idea of The Barcelona Process: The Union for the Mediterranean (BP: UfM) as an upgrade of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP), as long as it does not duplicate the existing structures. During its EU-Presidency it has especially engaged itself in the inclusion of Western Balkan Mediterranean states, namely Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, however, under a strong stance that their inclusion in firstly EMP and later BP: UfM should not be understood as an alternative to membership in the EU. The state supports a regional framework of co-operation with Southern Mediterranean partners, however not at the expense of bilateral 1009 relations.

July 2008, it is based under the Barcelona Process, considering a “big umbrella” under different initiatives could be developed. Spain is a strong supporter of this approach to the Mediterranean area.

Concentric circles around the EU?

Sweden

∗

(Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

Enlargement should not stop at the Western Balkans The Brok report has attracted little if any attention in Sweden. Generally, the Swedish view is different from that proposed. The view of the Swedish government is that enlargement of the European Union must also continue after the inclusion of the Balkan states. The government is strongly in support of Turkish membership under the precondition that Turkey fulfils the requirements. Initiative on Eastern Europe In May 2008, Poland and Sweden jointly launched an initiative centring on Eastern Europe, which primarily concerned five countries: Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister, has declared that this is not in place of membership but rather the opposite, one way 1010 The proposal has towards an eventual one. been endorsed by the European Council and the European Commission is to present a concrete proposal during the spring of 2009. 1011 Union for the Mediterranean As for the Mediterranean Union, the first reaction was negative. Sweden has been engaged in the Barcelona Process, having strong views on the importance of free trade and particularly active in certain issues, such as the Anna Lindh Foundation. With the introduced changes in the original French proposal Sweden is now supportive, seeing it as a beefed-up Barcelona process, the crucial matter being that the whole must be EU involved. Sweden also connects this proposal to its own proposal regarding the Baltic Sea
∗

Concentric circles around the EU?

Spain ∗
(Elcano Royal Institute)

Lack of debate Regrettably, there are a general lack of interest and knowledge towards the relevance of the Eastern neighbours, so there were no reactions to this draft report. The priorities areas for the Spanish foreign policy are the Mediterranean and LatinAmerican regions. Countries of both (with the exception of Turkey) are out of being considering as potential candidates of members of the EU. The debates in Spain are focused in the Union for the Mediterranean, but according to the last summit held in Paris in
1008

Interview with Ms. Veronika Stabej, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the EMP, in Ljubljana, 2 July 2008. Ibid. ∗ Elcano Royal Institute.
1009

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Dagens Nyheter: Swedish Initiative Aimed to Strengthen Links EU – Eastern Europe, 23 May 2008. 1011 Statement by Carl Bildt, in: Committee on EU Affairs: EU-nämndens stenografiska uppteckningar (stenographic reports of the Committee on EU Affairs), 13 June 2008, p. 5.
1010

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region. “It is normal,” says the foreign minister, “that those who are geographically closer are more engaged in the various projects.” The important characteristic, he states, is that the overriding political responsibility rests with the EU. 1012

Concentric circles around the EU?

Turkey

∗

(Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University)

Any alternative to membership unwelcome Elmar Brok’s report for the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, which was published in April 2008, did not attract enough attention from journalists, civil society organizations, or the government. Thus, in relation to this report, arguments on the gap between the EU’s enlargement strategy and its Neighbourhood Policy has not been discussed deeply in Turkey due to the decrease in the interest in EU affairs and the heated debates on the domestic politics. In general however, the journalists, bureaucracy, and the public do not welcome alternative forms to membership. Turkish public has been sceptical towards suggestions such as limited membership, partial membership, a privileged partnership and so on. Therefore, an European Economic Area+, a European Commonwealth or an European Neighbourhood Policy+ are not accepted since, these have been perceived as an alternative to full membership for Turkey in the Union. Although, there is not an ongoing debate on these matters, the only membership form that finds acceptance is full membership, thus, the other suggestions hardly find a place in the debates and are rejected by the opinion makers, opinion leaders, bureaucracy and the public.

in the United Kingdom. The Brok report has passed with little or no public comment. In theory, the British government favours the greatest possible enlargement of the European Union, laying in this context particular emphasis on the goal of full Turkish membership in due course. Elite opinion in the UK is aware that a range of economic, social and political problems are posed by the concept of EU membership for the countries of the Western Balkans, and, even more, for the countries of the former Soviet Union. There is, however, little desire to regard the resolution of this problem as a matter of pressing urgency. The geographical distance between the UK and the Ukraine is a powerful reason why the question of Ukrainian membership in the EU is only occasionally discussed, and then only with limited interest.

Concentric circles around the EU?

United Kingdom ∗
(Federal Trust for Education and Research)

Eastern Europe is far away from London Questions of the further enlargement of the European Union, with the possible exception of those relating to Turkey, are rarely discussed
1012 ∗

Statement by Carl Bildt, Ibid., 12 March, pp. 23 and 28. Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University. ∗ Federal Trust for Education and Research. page 207 of 293

EU-27 Watch | The first ten years of the Euro

6
The first ten years of the Euro
Almost ten years ago, on 1 January 1999, the common currency Euro was launched. Today, 15 EU member states have adopted this currency. What are the experiences of your country with the Euro? • Has the discourse on the Euro changed since its introduction? What had been the main topics in the debate on the Euro before it was launched? What are the main topics now? In the context of an international economic crisis, how is the autonomy of the European Central Bank (monetary policy decisions, interest rates, etc.) perceived in your country? Does your country intend to join the eurozone? Please outline the main arguments for or against joining the eurozone.

•

•

Please give special attention to public opinion, discourses of political elite and the business community.

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The first ten years of the Euro

Austria ∗
(Austrian Institute of International Affairs)

Rise of prices for daily life items Austria introduced the Euro in 2002. Generally speaking the experiences are twofold. On the one hand, the Euro has been made responsible for the rise of prices for daily life items and service. But on the other hand, the economy, especially the exporting segment, has lived a great advantage. The public opinion has gotten used to the Euro, but it remains very unpopular. Every now and then voices can be heard that call for the reintroduction of the Austrian Schilling. But this can be also seen in other countries. According 1013 30 percent to 40 to a “Die Presse” article percent of the Austrian and German population would prefer to get their former currency back, a rather high number. And you can still find enough people who still convert the Euro prices into Schilling to see (or feel) how much this ‘really’ costs. However, the youth has adapted fast to the Euro, and sees it as ‘their money’. The discourse on the Euro since its introduction The discourse has not change very much. The main topics remain the same: the rise of prices for daily life items and food, the advantages for the economy, the omission of the fees for money change and money transfer, a unique currency that is more robust against speculation driven attacks and other world events that could have negative effects on a currency, in other words a higher value stability. The autonomy of the European Central Bank The autonomy of the ECB has not been widely discussed. The debate rather focused on their actions and their handling of the interest rates policy, which is broadly seen as inappropriate regarding the current economic crisis and the strong Euro. One of the fundamental points of criticism is that the ECB does not take into account the fact that even if there is one currency in the main part of the EU, there is not one economic policy, so their handling of
∗

the interest rates does not fit to all Euro countries. Some countries need a reduction of interest rates to support the economy. In Austria the policy of raising the interested rates to counter inflation has been criticised sharply by the President of the Austrian chamber of commerce Christoph Leitl.

The first ten years of the Euro

Belgium

∗

(Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles)

Strong support for Euro – main concern inflation Generally speaking, the Belgian population has easily and rapidly accepted the Euro. The questions raised by its introduction were broadly never related to cultural or identity aspects but solely on economic and financial issues as, for example, the current problem of the perception of inflation by the public. As far as the government is concerned, it expressed its unconditional support to the project of monetary union and wanted, from the 1014 The beginning, to be part of its creation. alarming state of public finances required important budgetary efforts from successive governments. As it wanted the country to be as well prepared as possible, the federal cabinet in 1996 took measures to allow the maximum use of the Euro during the transitory period, without rendering its use compulsory. Since early 1999, companies and citizens could convert for free their bank accounts from Belgian Franks to Euros and were allowed to carry out payments on these accounts with a credit card. They were also able to pay their taxes in Euros and both the financial sector and the administration were able to work with both currencies. A special entity, the general Commissariat for the Euro, was created by the government in 1996 to deal with these dispositions and, more generally, to help with the introduction of the Euro. There was basically no opposition to the Euro in the political parties. Independently, whether they belonged to the parliamentary majority or the opposition, they were all favourable to the European currency. One should nonetheless notice that the liberals and the Greens (both
∗

1013

Austrian Institute of International Affairs. Christine Domforth: Der Euro: erfolgreich, aber unbeliebt, in: Die Presse, 04.05.2008.

Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles. 1014 European Parliament: L’union monétaire et la Belgique, Task Force Union Economique et Monétaire, 6th Briefing (second revision), 22/04/98, doc. PE 166.073/rev.2.

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parties in the opposition) contested the speed of the budgetary efforts made by the government in order to respect the convergence criteria. The workers and employers unions were also generally in favour of the Euro. 1015 The Federation of Employers is particularly favourable to the European currency and expressed its satisfaction regarding the overall government’s plan because of the flexibility it gave to the companies. The labour unions nevertheless criticized the too little attention given to employment and consumption issues. In addition, the FGTB (a union with a socialdemocrat tendency) emphasized the need for a social Europe. As the Belgian public opinion is traditionally very enthusiastic towards the European idea, there was strong support for the European currency among the population. Eurobarometer polls indicated in March 1998 that 57 percent of the population is favourable to the idea, significantly above the European average (51 percent). Nonetheless, 71 percent of Belgians felt “not informed” or “not well informed”, pushing the government to launch a large campaign of information via TV programs and explanatory documents available in every public place. This concern was relayed by Federal MPs that expressed their perplexity regarding the ‘mental preparation’ of the population and emphasized the need for more information, not only on the practical details of the conversion, but also on the overall goals of 1016 the European currency. The main queries the different actors had about the Euro were, at that time, not only about inflation, but also about employment. The concerns were therefore about the possible consequences of the Euro on the employment market in Europe (a deregulation of such market was feared) and in Belgium and whether this currency could help decrease the unemployment rate. Regarding prices and incomes, the public opinion and elites were concerned about the convergence of the prices in the different countries and whether the adjustments would be upwards or downwards. Another type of concern is regarding the international financial and exchange market. A shared interrogation turned around the position
1015 1016

of the Euro compared to the Dollar and if the new European currency would bring more stability to the international financial system or lead to speculative tendencies. In November 2004, almost three years after the introduction of the European currency, 48 percent of Europeans and 33 percent of Belgians still had problems with the Euro, compared to 49 percent of Europeans in November 2003, according to Gallup Europe. Women, elderly people and less-educated persons are the main components of this group of people having difficulties to adapt to the new currency. Ten years later, the perception of the European currency in the population was even more favourable. The approval rate got higher than 80 percent in autumn 2007 (the EU 1017 average being 61percent). But the main concern of the Belgian population rapidly became inflation and its perception. Already in November 2001, 64 percent of Belgian citizens were afraid of losing some purchasing power with the new European currency. After the launch of the Euro, more than 80 percent felt that they had been ripped off during the conversion period or that prices were too often rounded upwards. 1018 In 2007, the variation of the perception of the ‘real’ inflation and its perception remain quite high compared to neighbouring countries such as Germany and Netherlands. 1019 The extremeright French-speaking party, saying that the launching of the Euro provoked a continuous increase of the prices, but this party still thinks the country needs the European currency, has relayed this concern. 1020 On the early months of 2008, the decrease of inflation was not followed by the parallel perceptions of such inflation. The Belgian National Bank considers that the differences for such perceptions have a permanent nature and that they have been poorly influenced by the launching of the Euro in 2002. The observed development of the prices does not explain why the Belgian population perceived that these prices got higher.
Lemonnier Cécile: L’Union monétaire, l’euro et l’opinion publique, in: Bulletin de la Banque de France, No. 171, March 2008. 1018 Évolution de l’inflation en Belgique: une analyse de la Banque nationale de Belgique, Analysis requested by the federal government, in: Belgian National Bank (ed.): Economic Review, 2008. 1019 Cornille D./Stragier T.: L’euro, cinq ans après : que s’est-il passé avec les prix ?, in: Belgian National Bank (ed.): Economic Review 2007. 1020 Front National: Electoral Manifesto, 2007 Federal Elections.
1017

Ibid. L’introduction de l’Euro, Report from the Advice committee on European Issues of the Chamber and the Senate, 08/06/98 , doc. 1581/1-97/98 (Chambre) and 11010/1 (Sénat).

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The first ten years of the Euro

Bulgaria ∗
(Bulgarian European Community Studies Association)

Date of introduction in 2009 or 2010 likely to be rescheduled Specifics Bulgaria of the current situation in

In principle, the Euro adoption process in Bulgaria will pass through the same stages as in the other EU member states. At the same time, the situation in the country has some interesting specifics. On July 1st 1997, Bulgaria established a currency board. This arrangement, very atypical of today’s European financial practices, is introduced whereby the confidence in the central bank, its classical functions and instruments, and the abilities to use them has been lost. And this is exactly what was seen in Bulgaria some ten years ago, when it had a deep financial, economic and political crisis. The currency board was introduced as one of the most important measures for overcoming that crisis, and over the period since its introduction, it has proved its efficiency. Generally, the currency board is a monetary system whereby the national currency issues are entirely covered by the foreign convertible (reserve) currency. When this arrangement was put in place, the national monetary unit, the Bulgarian Lev, was pegged to the Deutsche Mark at an exchange rate expressly set in the Law of the “Bulgarian National Bank” of 1997, i.e. 1000 BGL for 1 Deutsche Mark. After the Euro was adopted by Germany and the re-denomination carried out in Bulgaria in 1999, whereby 1,000 old BGL were replaced with one new BGN, this pegged exchange rate was changed to 1.95583 BGN 1021 for 1 Euro. Another specific feature of Bulgaria is that, unlike other new EU member states, the Euro has already been used as legal tender in Bulgaria for many years. For example, the prices of real estates and motor vehicles in the capital city and in the major cities are given exclusively in Euro, and the payments on such transactions are very frequently made in this
Bulgarian European Community Studies Association. Law on the Bulgarian National Bank, in: Official Journal th (Darjaven Vestnik), issue 46 of June 10 1997, effective th since June 10 1997 with amendments. For the amendments see: Law on Redenomination of the Bulgarian Lev, in: Official Journal (Darjaven Vestnik), issue 20 of March th 5 1999.
1021 ∗

currency. All these practices, having existed for years, have been taken into consideration by the legislator in the adoption of the Foreign Exchange Law at the end of 1999. This legal act abolished a provision of the Law on the Obligations and Contracts (a law passed in 1950 in completely different economic and social conditions), which stated that payment obligations had to be agreed in the local currency, i.e. the Bulgarian Lev. So, since January 1st 2000 (i.e. after the Foreign Exchange Law took effect) there have been no legal obstacles for the payments between local and foreign persons in the territory of the country to be made in a foreign currency, including the Euro, if the parties have reached agreement on this. 1022 Consequently, we should point out that the use of the Euro with the consent of the parties to private transactions does not mean that the Bulgarian Lev has ceased to be legal tender or that unilateral euroisation has been carried out (like what we currently observe in some countries, e.g. the Western Balkans). Bulgaria’s practice can be called ‘unofficial spontaneous euroisation’, which is understood as a phenomenon where economic agents voluntarily use the Euro alongside the national currency. This is not a deliberate government policy of promoting unilateral adoption of the Euro and, therefore, it is not contrary to the European community law. Preparation for the adoption of the single currency Bulgaria is going to officially adopt the Euro only in compliance with the provisions of Community law. The country’s Central Bank, the “Bulgarian National Bank” (BNB), plays a key role in the process of preparing for the adoption of the Euro. It has expressed its position on this issue in its “Strategy for BNB 1023 Development in 2004-2009” , which has been publicly announced. A major idea in this statement is that the currency board in Bulgaria is consistent with the requirements of the European Commission and of the European Central Bank (ECB) for participation in the mandatory interim stage before adopting the Euro – i.e. European Exchange Rate
Art.10, para. 1 Law on the Obligations and Contracts, in: Official Journal (Darjaven Vestnik), issue 275 of November nd st 22 1950, effective since January 1 1951 with amendments. 1023 BNB: Strategy for Bulgarian National Bank Development between 2004 and 2009, available under: nd . http://www.bnb.bg (last access: September 2 2008).
1022

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Mechanism II (ERM II). BNB upholds this position in the European System of Central Banks (ESCB). Although these central banks are independent legal entities conditioned by the legislation of the specific country, they are an integral part of the Euro-system and, as such, are subject to the ECB regulatory regime. They are functionally subordinate to the ECB and are therefore required to comply with the regulatory framework of the ECB governing bodies. Work is carried out on both an international and national plane. In November 2004, BNB and the government signed an agreement on the adoption of the Euro in the Republic of 1024 It was signed in circumstances Bulgaria. different from todays, as its content reveals. It specifies in a rather optimistic sense, as seen from the current perspective, an exact timeframe for Bulgaria’s accession to the eurozone and of BNB to the eurosystem. This was expected to take place in the second half of 2009, or on January 1st 2010. Since the time of signing the agreement, parliamentary elections have been carried out in Bulgaria and the government is no longer the same. Still, this agreement is effective as a set of agreed steps, which the executive branch and the autonomous central bank have agreed to follow. In addition to the BNB, the council of ministers of Bulgaria (both the one operating in 2004 and the following one in power since the elections in June 2005) has also made a commitment to ensure that Bulgaria’s participation in ERM II is based on: а) keeping the currency board until joining the eurozone at the current fixed exchange rate of BGN 1.95583 per 1 EUR; b) a unilateral commitment on the part of the Bulgarian government and the BNB during ERM II for Bulgaria to take advantage of the possibilities for a change under the exchange rate regime; c) observing the minimum period for participation as laid down in the EU legislation and timely undertaking of all necessary steps in the eurozone accession procedure; d) adopting the Euro as the national currency from the moment of joining the eurozone. The macroeconomic policy institutional framework, created in this way, is an important factor for the country to quickly join the European Economic and Monetary Union.
1024

Unfortunately, there are adverse factors as well. These were manifested during the country’s efforts to join the ERM II. As a result, a previously discussed optimistic timeframe was not met, namely for the ERM II entry to start immediately from the date of EU accession. Thus, Bulgaria is still outside ERM II, and it is not clear for how much longer this will be the case. The time period for a member state as set forth in the community law is two years at minimum. This is the minimum term, but it could also be extended – for instance, this period was more than four years for Greece. During this period a country is expected to demonstrate a high level of economic stability expressed in the performance of the so-called Maastricht criteria, which is monitored, by both the European institutions and the ECB. The criteria set forth in Article 121 of the treaty, and written in details in the protocol to the treaty, cover public finances, inflation rate, interest and exchange rates. Public debt (up to 60 percent of GDP) and budget deficit (up to 3 percent of GDP): with regard to these indicators, data on Bulgaria is within the requirements. Over the past few years, the country has consistently improved its budget fundamentals. Since 2003, a breakeven point, the budget ran surpluses, and in 2007 was at 3.4 percent of GDP. The EC forecasts that it will remain at 3.2 percent of GDP in both 2008 and 2009. Regarding the exchange rate, the currency board arrangement provides an even greater stability to the exchange rate of Bulgarian Lev against the Euro, than the requirements of the Maastricht Treaty. The hardest criterion to comply with is price stability. The average level of inflation should not be higher than 1.5 percentage points of the inflation in the three EU member states with the lowest level of inflation. This is measured under the Harmonised Indicator of Consumer Prices. At present, those member states are: Malta, the Netherlands and Denmark. Inflation has been one of the major issues in Bulgaria 1025 In 2007 it over the past few years. increased significantly over the government forecast of 4-5 percent per year. Now, for the first time after the implementation of the currency board arrangement, for the current
National Statistic Institute: Bulgaria 2006 – Socialeconomic development, available under: www.nsi.bg (last nd access: September 2 2008).
1025

Agreement between the Council of Ministers and the BNB on the introduction of the Euro in the Republic of Bulgaria from th November 25 2004, available under: http://www.bnb.bg nd (last access: September 2 2008).

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year 2008 it is expected that yearly inflation will exceed 10 percent, or to be 7-8 percent at the least. Inflation – and in particular the increase in the price of food, energy and transport – were of particular concern to the consumer in the first half of 2008 and are unlikely to become less worrying over the second half. The conclusions in the ECB and the European Commission convergence reports, which provide information on the current economic status of member states, also imply that Bulgaria is not ready yet to adopt the single currency. Irrespective of these difficulties, Bulgaria still aims at adopting the Euro as soon as possible. The business does realise the advantages of the Euro. After the adoption of the Euro, the exchange risk will be removed, and there will be additionally encouraging capital inflows in Bulgaria, speeding the convergence of interest 1026 rates and spreads. The public is also relatively positive towards the adoption of the Euro. In June 2008, there was a national discussion organised by the national television and the “Bulgarian News Agency BTA” regarding the symbol to be engraved on the first ‘Bulgarian’ 1 Euro coin. The most common responses were: the Bulgarian rose, the “Rila Monastery”, the mediaeval rock relief “Madarski Konnik” th (“Madara Horseman”) of the 8 century AD, and the Cyrillic alphabet. The “Madara Horseman” was the favourite symbol of all Bulgarians 1027 and it is the most plausible to be depicted on the national side of the future Euro coins. Such a decision will contribute, as well, to the continuation of the national minting tradition, as that image appears on Bulgarian coins from before the Second World War. If we look forward, the January 1st 2012 is considered as plausible for the introduction of the Euro in Bulgaria. However, we should not neglect the forecasts of many Bulgarian and foreign experts who pinpoint the finalisation of that process for Bulgaria and Romania (to which the adoption of Euro is also among the tasks with priority) between 2013 and 2014.

The first ten years of the Euro

Croatia ∗
(Institute for International Relations)

Confidence in Euro still strong in Croatia The public discourse on a single currency, the Euro, has mainly been positive in Croatia. Since its inception Croatia has mirrored the public opinion of main EU member states, but with somewhat less criticism and doubt. On the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the Euro, most of the media reactions focused on the positive economic effects: visible in the increase of the EU economic competitiveness, decrease of unemployment, substantial job creation, rise of investments and economic 1028 growth rates. The Croatian currency, the Kuna (HRK), has been pegged to the Euro since 2002 and the Croatian National Bank is therefore closely following all the changes related to EU monetary and exchange rate policy, its impact on the economic performance, the trend of continuous appreciation of Euro towards US dollar and changes of perceptions of costs and benefits of its introduction in the countries that joined the eurozone, especially in the new EU members states. The attitude of the Croatian population regarding the Euro and EU-accession seems to be more optimistic than in the most EU member countries. The recent survey shows that 66 percent of Croatians advocate for EU membership with a single currency – which is about 5 percent above the average support in 1029 the EU . According to latest European public opinion survey, a lot of uncertainty, suspicion and doubts regarding the Euro during these ten years appeared to be unfounded. The results of the special research survey done for the Eurobarometer at the end of 2007, 1030 in which Croatia is also included showed that the general European scepticism towards the Euro has decreased. The main topic of current public interest in Croatia is whether the introduction of Euro will have an impact on inflation rate and the general level of prices in Croatia. The publication of the Flash Eurobarometer Survey

Tsvetan Manchev/Mincho Karavastev: Еconomic and Monetary Union on the Horizon, Discussion papers of the BNB, 50/2005, August 2005. 1027 Nazionalna kampaija “Bulgarksite simvoli (National campaign “Bulgarian symbols”), see at: nd http://infobulgaria.info/ (last access: September 2 2008).

1026

∗

Institute for International Relations. “Ten years of euro”. Vecernji list, 9 May 2008. 1029 Vanja Moskaljov: “Croats are not Europeans just in their heads, Dosje Eurobarometar”. Vecernji list, weekly supplement Obzor, 2 February 2008. 1030 Eurobarometer No. 68, December 2007.
1028

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in March 2008 1031 brought several comments in the Croatian media on general public and government perceptions of adopting the European single currency in two latest newcomers. According to the survey, 66 percent of residents of Cyprus and 37 percent in Malta had fear of high inflation because of price rounding as a result of their conversion to Euros. At the time of the introduction of the Euro the Central Bank of Cyprus claimed the opposite. 1032 About half of the Slovenian respondents (52 percent) had a similar opinion immediately after the introduction of Euro in their country in 2007. 1033 Also, of considerable public interest was news related to the economic situation in Slovakia, prior to applying for membership in the eurozone. Namely, Slovakia can serve as a good example of a country that managed to keep the inflation rate under control and lower then in many other member states, despite high rises in fuel and food prices. In addition, it also records a decrease of fiscal deficit below the maximum 3 percent of GDP set by the 1034 The Slovakian success Maastricht criteria. is a good policy roadmap for Croatia too, given the similarities in the paths of economic reforms and the bringing of public finances in order. Media reports also stress that Slovakia is among post-socialist countries that profited the most from EU accession, especially by attracting a large amount of foreign direct investment, which led to a substantial increase of employment. 1035 Autonomy of ECB supported but concerns over strong Euro continue The central monetary authority of Croatia, the Croatian National Bank (CNB), perceives the autonomy of European Central Bank as crucial for implementation of a successful EU monetary policy and has continued to adjust Croatian monetary policy towards adopting the legislation and the rules of the EU. In the process of alignment of Croatian legislation
1031

with the EU, strengthening the independence of the Croatian National Bank was one of the conditions in the process of negotiations and in this context the amendments to the law for Croatian National Bank were adopted. The amendments of CNB Law now more comprehensively prohibits financing of the public sector. Furthermore, the changes of legislation also included the adoption of a secondary objective that allows general economic objectives of the EC to take precedence over Croatia’s domestic monetary objectives. In addition, rules and structures were adopted for the integrating of CNB into the European System of Central Banks by the time of EU accession. Nevertheless, Croatia has not yet completed its legal alignment in order to ensure the central bank’s full 1036 There are still provisions independence. that give privileged access to public authorities into financial institutions, but overall the monetary policy alignment is well on the track as the new laws regarding the Croatian National Bank have already been drafted in May 2008, which solves the remaining issues of alignment with the EU. 1037 The announcements of the new cash regulations from ECB also caught some media attention in Croatia. Business monthly “Banka” published the article 1038 which states that ECB is considering some novelties concerning the adoption of Euro in the next enlargement of eurozone, especially the increased delivery of Euros to banks and stores in order to decrease the crowd and long cues on the first day of membership in eurozone. It is also very important to ensure the enlarged amounts of coins in first days, in particular in smaller countries. For example, Malta was the first in the eurozone to forbid the price roundup during the conversion of Liras to Euros, and Cyprus has imposed even stricter controls. On 12 March 2008, “Vjesnik” published an 1039 concerning the alarming article continuously rising value of the Euro relative to the US dollar in which it was stated that the overvalued Euro could present a major threat
1036

“Euro Introduction in Cyprus and Malta: Ex Post Citizen Survey”. Flash Eurobarometer No. 222 and 223, March 2008. 1032 See “In Cyprus and Malta euro became official currency since New Year’s day”. Poslovni dnevnik, 2 January 2008, available under: http://www.poslovni.hr/65749.aspx (last access: 12 September 2008). 1033 Flash Eurobarometer No. 222 and 223, March 2008, p. 6. 1034 Stanko Boric: “European Commission approved Slovakia to join eurozone in 2009!”. Poslovni dnevnik, 30 April, p. 16. 1035 Bruni Lopandic: “Integrations pay off”. Vjesnik, 3 and 6 July 2008, p. 15.

European Commission: Croatia 2007 Progress Report, commission staff working document, 6 November 2007, COM(2007)663 final, p. 41. 1037 Proposal of the Act on the Croatian National Bank, May 2008 available under: http://www.hnb.hr/propisi/epropisi.htm?tsfsg=eae6b12b8e9 c2a5202de6798b9dfed77 (last access: 4 July 2008). 1038 “Citizens of Malta and Cyprus are satisfied with switch on Euro”. business monthly Banka, 18 April 2008, available under: www.banka.hr (last access: 29 July 2008). 1039 Luka Capar: “Concerns in Brussels because of overvalued euro”. Vjesnik, 12 March 2008, p. 28.

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to the eurozone economy, as it hurts exports. Contrary to many beliefs, José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, claims that this will not significantly affect the growth rate of the European economy, thus giving full support to ECB independence. The EU business community seemed to have a different opinion. An article quoted the statement of ErnestAntoine Seillière, the president of BusinessEurope, a pan-European business association, questioned the sustainability of such an alarmingly high valued Euro in the long run, without considerable political support from the eurozone members. In the EU as well as in the Croatian market, such trends go in favour of those companies – for example the INA (Croatian oil industry), which imports goods payable in dollars and places it on market either in Euros or in HRK which is 1040 closely pegged to Euro. Croatia plans to join eurozone, but after three years of adjustment period After the accession of Croatia to the EU, European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) membership is a further logical, but not an automatic step, and is to be followed by a period of adjustments for EMU entry. Croatia is currently in the process of alignment with the EU acquis that is governing the monetary policy (chapter 17) as a part of the accession reforms needed for joining the EU and Croatian National Bank, as a central monetary authority, has already stated a clear intention of joining eurozone, but allowing itself at least three years of adjustment after accession similar to many other Central European countries of the last enlargement wave. “Upon EU accession, Croatia must spend two years within the ERM [European Exchange Rate Mechanism], during which period the country’s ability to maintain exchange rate stability is evaluated. After that, provided that we also meet all other required Maastricht criteria for monetary and economic stability, we could 1041 In addition to the introduce the Euro.” Maastricht criteria, Croatia must comply with two additional requirements for EMU: the independence of the Central Bank and the full liberalisation of capital flows. In Croatia, there is already an exceptionally high degree of ‘euroisation’, which hopefully would make the
1040 1041

transition from HRK to the adoption of the Euro easier. 1042 However, the experts and analysts noticed that the introduction of the Euro in the new member states is much slower than originally expected. 1043 In his recent speech at the “Croatian money market conference” Dubravko Radošević, chief economic advisor to President Mesić, addressed the question of Croatian strategy of entering the ERM II, the EMU and the intention of joining the eurozone. Radošević said that the process of entering in EMU will be carried out gradually in three phases (under assumption of joining the EU in 2011): 1) Croatian monetary sovereignty (2008 – 2011); 2) entering the ERM II (2011-2015); 3) ‘euroisation’ (2016). In order to make it feasible however, he pleaded for better control of financial system’s stability by Croatian National Bank and its protection from asymmetric external shocks that affect the level of exchange rate and interest risks that make the highly indebted Croatian economy very 1044 vulnerable. Within the preparations for introduction of a single European currency, the Croatian National Bank has started activities that would create all the necessary infrastructural support for operation of the Single Euro Cash Area (SECA) and the Single European Payments Area (SEPA). The CNB has already adopted directives for distribution and cash operation in accordance to ECB 2004 directives. All banks, credit and other cash operating institutions in Croatia should be ready before the Euro is adopted in order to ensure the smooth cash transactions, although twelve months would be granted for adjustments after introduction. Croatian banks are envisaged to be ready for the Single Euro Cash Area by the end of 2009 as they already began intensive legislative, financial and accounting preparations and 1045 buying IT support two years ago. The academic and expert circles, as well as media are especially focused in their analyses on the experiences of the new EU members in adopting the Euro, especially on the impact of

1042 1043 1044

Ibid. Interview with Boris Vujčić, deputy governor of the Croatian National Bank, Euroforum No. 15, Newsletter of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, June 2007, p. 4-5. ]

Vedran Sosic, Croatian National Bank, ibid., p. 13. Ibid., p. 7. The speech of Dubravko Radošević, chief economic th advisor to the Croatian president, was held at the 11 Scientific and expert conference “Croatian money market” in Opatija on 9 May 2008. See: www.hanfa.hr/uploads/prezentacije/opatija/OPATIJA2008Dubravko_Radosevic.pdf (last access: 3 July 2008). 1045 See the interview with Boris Raguž, Croatian National Bank. business monthly Banka, No.6., June 2008, pp. 2831.

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this switch on price stability and inflation. 1046 In this respect, the experiences of Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus are especially instructive. During the first half of 2008, the print media brought many reports on recent experiences in Cyprus and Malta which adopted the Euro on January 1st 2008, as well as announcements that Slovakia will be the next country joining the eurozone starting in 2009. Most of the media also quoted the statement of Paul de Grauwe, advisor to the President of the European Commission, who said that Croatia as a small country would benefit tremendously from joining the EMU primarily through ensuring a long-term price and exchange rate stability thus enabling all the participants of the market a favourable financial and business 1047 conditions.

the so-called ’rounding-up’ effect. As it turned out, and partly as a result of the heightened awareness amongst consumers generated by this debate, but also due to the active role that Civil Society Organisations and consumer groups have played in monitoring key sectors and ‘naming and shaming’ recalcitrant traders, the cases of abuse were limited and contained in small pockets of economic activity. The “Cyprus Consumer Association” found in a survey conducted over the period JulyDecember 2007 that 50 percent of businesses had not changed their prices, 10 percent had reduced their prices, while 40 percent had increased them. The president of the association released a list of the companies, products and services. He said the most worrying aspect was that of the 40 percent that had increased prices more than half had done so by over 10 percent. He said it was up to the consumer to report cases and affect 1049 matters. New government fosters inflationary trend Thus, during the weeks immediately following the adoption, public debate on the Euro had gradually subsided, moving instead to the upcoming presidential election in March 2008. In the aftermath of the election, and with the arrival of a new ‘left/left-of-centre’ government, the economic debate moved quickly to social issues. Indeed, the new president, anxious to fulfil some of his election campaign promises and given the improved fiscal position he had inherited from the previous government, swiftly announced a series of expensive ‘targeted’ social measures to ’protect’ the most economically vulnerable social groups and improve the social safety net. This turned out to be a rather premature move as it coincided with increased inflationary pressures across the eurozone and beyond, and a result of high oil and food prices, as well as the increasingly deteriorating international financial conditions as a result of the ‘sub-prime loans crisis’ in the US and its fallout in the EU. Indeed, according to data released on the 1 July 2008, by the government statistics service, inflation for June reached 5.5 percent (the highest level since March 2003), compared to 4.9 percent in May. The greatest increases were recorded for price of food, nonalcoholic drinks, housing, restaurants, and
1049

The first ten years of the Euro

Cyprus ∗
(Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies)

Introduction accomplished Prices are centre of the debate Cyprus was one of the two new member states which joined the eurozone on the 1st of January 2008. The transition to the new currency has been very smooth and, it is generally recognised that, Cyprus moved into the eurozone with ease and minimum disruption to the everyday life of its citizens. As a result of this successful transition, the dual circulation period was shortened. 1048 In the lead to the adoption of the new currency, the public debate had been dominated by the need to avoid the experiences of other countries whereby the transition to the Euro was seen as an opportunity to unduly raise prices through
See for instance comments of Goran Šaravanja, chief economist Zagrebacka banka. business monthly Banka, available under: www.bankamagazine.hr (last access: 30 June 2008); Žarko Miljenović, Croatian National Bank, Euroforum No. 15, Newsletter of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, p.19. 1047 Interview with Paul de Grauwe, Poslovni dnevnik, 29 March 2008, p. 15. ∗ Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies. 1048 See Flash Eurobarometer 220, Dual circulation period in Cyprus. Analytical Report, January 2008, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_220_en.pdf (last access: 01/09/2008); Flash Eurobarometer 222-223, Euro Introduction in Cyprus and Malta Ex-Post Citizen Survey, Analytical Report, February 2008, available under: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_222_223_en.pdf (last access: 01/09/2008).
1046

st

Cyprus Consumer Association Press Conference, 09/01/2008

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hotels. Large increases were also recorded for the price of fuel. Inflation in Cyprus is approximately 1.5 percent higher than the predicted value for the eurozone. The government’s declared expansionary fiscal stance has set the new Minister of Finance in a collision course with the governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus who, with the full backing of his colleagues at the European Central Bank (ECB) and for the first time in the 48-year history of the Republic, publicly rebuffed the government for its lavishness and profligacy. The governor expressed his deep concerns that the government’s expansionary macroeconomic stance was fuelling the inflationary forces in the economy and called for fiscal restrain to contain inflationary expectations. His comments generated strong critical reactions from leading left-wing politicians close to the new president, who called into question the governor’s independence and his political legitimacy as an autonomous and non-elected official. The main opposition conservative party came to the rescue of the beleaguered governor pointing out that his independence was guaranteed in the EU Treaty and is the cornerstone of the European Economic and Monetary Union and the Euro. Another mini-row erupted a few weeks later, this time involving the governor and Parliament, when members of the “House of Representatives” lambasted the governor claiming that he “had shamed Cyprus in the European Union because, according to them [members of parliament], he had informed the President of the ECB that the house had included him in a piece of legislation without consulting him, as they had to. They took deep offence and made all sorts of silly threats that amounted to interference in the independence 1050 of the central bank” . Finally, the recent increase of interest rates by the ECB to 4.25 percent is troubling consumers as the payments for flexible interest rate mortgages also increase. The employers and industrialists federation attacked the government for its decision to grant civil employees with pay rises at a time of inflationary pressures, while worker unions called on the government for measures against the effects of rising prices. Minister of Finance Charilaos Stavrakis, however, noted that the
1050

Cypriot economy is strong and flexible and able to handle the situation. 1051
The first ten years of the Euro

Czech Republic ∗
(Institute of International Relations)

The Czech Republic is not rushing for the Euro The Czech government so far has not stated a date when the Euro will be introduced in the Czech Republic. The government has a rather hesitant approach on the issue, and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has even stated that the country could do fine without the common currency. 1052 In addition, President Václav Klaus is opposed to the Euro and argues that it is a non-optimal currency area, which in his opinion, the first ten years of the Euro has proven to provide lower economic growth in these countries than in comparable ones. 1053 The two smaller parties in the current governing coalition, the Greens and the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL), both would prefer to set a date for the Euro as well as the Social Democratic opposition (ČSSD). Yet, despite the differences in opinion among the political elite, the debate on the topic receives rather little attention in the media. The reluctant view of the biggest governing party is also reflected in a rather hesitant public opinion. Even if two thirds of the population were in favour of the common currency, only one fifth would like to see a rapid introduction 1054 of the Euro in the Czech Republic. The former governing coalition (2002-2006) consisting of Social Democrats, Liberals and Christian Democrats, when the Czech Republic entered the EU in 2004, had the goal of introducing the Euro by 2010. However, because the country failed to meet the convergence criteria this goal was abandoned. Instead, the national plan for the introduction of the Euro from March 2007 mentioned the year
Main evening news TV bulletins, 04/07/2008. Institute of International Relations. 1052 Topolánek exkluzivně: Když nebude euro, nezemřeme (Topolánek exlusively: We will not die without the euro), available at: http://aktualne.centrum.cz/domaci/politika/clanek.phtml?id =518857 (last access: 14 July 2008. 1053 Václav Klaus: V, 10 let Eura: Kdo má důvod oslavovat? (10 Years of the euro: who has a reason to celebrate), available at: http://www.klaus.cz/klaus2/asp/clanek.asp?id=2KS7h2bWI duM (last access: 14 july 2008). 1054 Studie: Euro neovlivní růst ekonomiky, ceny ale zřejmě porostou (Study: the euro does not influence the growth oft he economy but prices are predicted to increase), Czech News Agency, 21 January 2008.
∗ 1051

See Phedon Nicolaides: The Commissioner, the Governor and the Politicians, Cyprus Mail, 08/06/2008.

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2012, but lately current Prime Minister Topolánek has described 2012 as unrealistic. In his opinion is it first necessary to reform the pension system. 1055 The governor of the Czech National Bank, Zdeněk Tůma, has argued that the country could wait until 2019 without any problem without introducing the Euro. 1056 Currently the Czech Republic is failing primarily to meet the inflation criterion, the Minister of Finances, Miroslav Kalousek, however, argues that this is rather a onetime diversion. 1057 An investigation into the question of the consequences of the introduction of the Euro in the Czech Republic ordered by the Ministry of Finance came to the conclusion that in the short term this could lead to increased inflation, and the Czech Republic would no longer be able to maintain lower interest rates than the European average, which is an advantage for the Czech economy at the current moment. Therefore in the short term, the Euro might lead to a decrease in economic growth. Yet in the long term benefits outweigh short-term 1058 Opinion polls among Czech costs. companies show that three out of four would prefer the soonest possibl