|Newropeans Magazine is able to present you today Tiesweb's exclusive written interview with Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the CFSP.
The Constitution will make the EU more effective in what it is doing, and will give it some new competences. But it will not undermine NATO because most of the new areas are about issues NATO does not deal with. The European Security and Defense Policy that is already being pursued is complementary to NATO: The EU took over Bosnia from NATO in order to free up NATO for new tasks, in full agreement with NATO and hence the US. The EU took on a mission in Congo upon the request of the UN when NATO did not want to act. In most cases, the problem is not too many countries or organizations wanting to send troops, but too few. What the EU is doing in terms of creating Battle Groups (rapid reaction forces) and rationalizing defence procurement is to make European armed forces more effective, to get better value for the Euros we spend – a request the US has made so often – and responding to requests like from the UN. NATO-EU relations are and will remain crucial.
In Washington it is widely said that President Bush finds the summits with the EU dull. Following Chancellor Schröder's proposal to renew the Transatlantic relationship architecture, why, given it is a unique sui generis organisation, does the EU not break out of the formalistic diplomatic style of the nation state, and establish new forms of dialogue, for instance jointly building scenarios with the US of possible futures? Moreover, at a time when public opinion[s] increasingly influences the course of EU/USA relations, is it not time for the EU to take new initiatives targeting civil society operators such as NGOs and universities, rather than the 'usual Transatlantic suspects' of diplomats, businessmen, foundations and NATO officers, which have not been able to prevent the current drifting apart of the two blocks?
The more strategic issues are dealt with between the EU and the US, the more room there is for real brainstorming and the more interesting the summits will be. Once again, improvements on the EU side (for instance through the Constitution by changing the external representation of the EU) will be a help . But we are already making good progress. I do not think at all that the visit of President Bush to the EU in February was “boring”. We had an excellent discussion on key strategic issues and we narrowed our differences in a number of areas, for instance on Iraq and Iran.
The EU needs contacts with both governments and civil societies. We increasingly rely on informal dialogue with many US interlocutors outside the summit process. We also do exercises with strategic partners, such as the US, on possible future crises. But resources are limited and it is proper that we focus in the first instance on the problems we face today and tomorrow, and find out how we can together most effectively to address those urgent challenges. And to do that that you mostly need meetings with government officials.
Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out that the EU engages a wide range of US actors: Not only the Administration, but also Congress, the media, universities and think tanks. The Commission sponsors 15 “EU Centers” at different American universities. Student groups are received by the Council for briefings. Me and my staff regularly address think tanks and universities in the US. We recently launched a website on transatlantic relations (direct link on http://www.consilium.eu.int
). Hence, there is are a wide range of outreach activities undertaken by the EU. We are trying to expand these and would welcome any proposals and suggestions others have.