Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Common Foreign and Security Policy

Delivered in Plenary - 11th May 2011

Mr President

The major development in the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) this year has undoubtedly been the establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS). Baroness Ashton, as Vice-President/High Representative, you have recently come under pressure for its lacklustre performance. However, you can only ever be as effective as the Member States will allow you to be, and of course you are reluctant to use your own powers of initiative an approach which I fully support. On the one hand, the EU wants to carve out its global role as a diplomatic heavyweight but, on the other hand, the CFSP requires unanimity, which means compromising to preserve the interests of individual Member States, particularly the big ones.

This hybrid sui generis approach to EU foreign policy vindicates those of us who opposed the creation of the EEAS in the first place, believing then that the EUs global ambitions would undermine national sovereignty. Paradoxically, it now seems that national sovereignty is undermining the EUs global ambitions, as we saw recently over what happened in Libya. The ECR, my Group, nevertheless remains constructively engaged with the EEAS. We wish it well. We hope it will work. It needs to bed down, and we want to see budget neutrality and more political accountability.

Although the Vice-President/High Representative has made excellent senior appointments I have seen some of these before the Committee on Foreign Affairs I must ask why she has been short-changed in a stitch-up by the Commission, which seems to have retained a disproportionate amount of resources for EU enlargement and the European neighbourhood policy. This split does not provide value for money to EU taxpayers, nor does it serve our foreign policy interests.

Can I now make some specific requests, firstly on the imminent Gaza Flotilla Mark II? Can you, Madam Vice-President/High Representative, put pressure on Turkey to stop this dangerous provocation at a time when Israel is under enormous tension and pressure, with missile attacks from Gaza and the renewed passage of Iranian warships through the Suez Canal? And how will the EU engage with a new unitary Palestinian Authority that has Hamas, a terrorist organisation banned by the EU, as one of its components?

Secondly, Madam Vice-President/High Representative, will you broker a solution for the closure of Camp Ashraf in Iraq?

Next, will you condemn forthrightly and totally the passage of the Bahati bill in Uganda, which allows the execution of homosexuals?

Lastly, I entirely agree with Mr Verhofstadt: I commend you in all your efforts to stabilise the Middle East and North African countries, and in particular your condemnation of the killing of Christians in Egypt, but why, as Mr Verhofstadt has pointed out, has President Assad of Syria been left off the EU sanctions list after the brutal killing of innocent civilian protesters by his forces in recent days?