EUROPEAN THINK-TANK REVIEW – XXIV. (August 2014)

Written by | Friday, August 8th, 2014
European Values

The Case for EU Police Mission Ukraine
Steven Blockmans a Daniel Gros (Centre for European Policy Studies)

The EU appears to be out of its depth in dealing with the crisis in Ukraine. Instead of engaging in endless discussions over the role of sanctions and issuing long statements about the desirability of closing the door on Russia, the EU should concentrate on what really matters: namely, influencing events on the ground. Sanctions may have an effect in the long run, but the future of Ukraine is being decided now. The good news is that so far the problems have been restricted to two oblasts (Donetsk and Lugansk) where the proportion of Russian-speakers is particularly high (over 50-60%). The adjacent oblasts (Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, etc.) have so far remained calm. But the local police forces are often unable, and sometimes unwilling, to confront the extremists on both sides. Atttempts to destabilise these areas escalated particularly around the national election in late May.

Stability is clearly what is needed most in Ukraine. This study recommends that an EU Police Mission (EUPM) be sent in to stabilise the aforementioned critical areas. Given the relatively low numbers of rebels, it should be possible to prevent a repetition of the events of Odessa (and of Donetsk) if the EU sent a couple of hundred officers to each of the areas that are still relatively trouble-free to beef up the local police force. The dispatch of this EUPM Ukraine should give the civilian population the feeling that everybody will be protected and there is no need for arms. In the areas designated for stabilisation, the local police would be put under joint control and the public order functions would be implemented by joint patrols.

That a stabilisation force can make a difference has been demonstrated by the successful UNPREDEP operation in Macedonia/FYROM, decided upon by the UNSC in 1995. The EU could influence events on the ground and contain escalation of internal conflict within Ukraine. This is what it should concentrate upon ? not endless discussion about sanctions and diplomatic initiatives that are likely to be ignored by the extremists on both sides.
(The study can be downloaded here: http://www.ceps.eu/book/case-eu-police-mission-ukraine)


The High Representative 3.0: Taking EU Foreign Policy to the Next Level
Niklas Helwig (The Finnish Institute of International Affairs)

“We are just in the very beginning,” commented Catherine Ashton after a summary of her main achievements as the first High Representative of the Union at a conference in Brussels in March 2014. When her tenure ends this autumn, her successor will have the opportunity to become a key actor in the EU’s foreign policy. As the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the chair of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), the next High Representative will have the opportunity to cooperate with foreign ministers of Member States and take the potential of the office to the next level in the next five years.

The incumbent High Representative, as well as the current European Council President Herman van Rompuy, chose to adopt a reserved, uncompetitive approach in their decisions. The new duo may take a stronger stand and decide the future course of the CFSP. For this to happen, the two officials must cooperate and bridge any potential disagreements between the Council and the FAC.

It remains to be seen what kind of personality the heads of state or government will choose after the European Parliament elections at the end of May. The negotiation dynamics favour a compromise candidate rather than a high-profile figure. Nevertheless, there is a possibility that the appointment will be influenced by the strategic concerns of the Member States as well. Member States are aware that the appointment of a high-profile High Representative would repair the damaged profile of EU foreign policy. At the same time, a ‘strong’ High Representative will obtain greater leverage over Commission instruments and policies, which would eventually strengthen the CFSP and tilt the power balance in EU external relations towards the Member States.

This study highlights two challenges which the new High Representative will have to face. First, he or she will have to define priority portfolios with the Member States, in which he or she can raise the EU’s visibility more assertively. Given the current events in the near abroad, it is conceivable that this will include a revamp of the European Neighbourhood Policy. Second, the High Representative 3.0 has to readjust the administrative structure in order to establish a close network of EU foreign policy elites.
(The study can be downloaded here: http://www.fiia.fi/en/publication/419/the_high_representative_3.0/)

Who Calls the Shots in the Euro Area: “Brussels or the Member States?
Sofia Fernandes (Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute)

The EMU has been built on a monetary pillar and an economic pillar. The debt crisis in the euro area has fostered the creation of a political will in favour of a reform of Europe’s economic governance, thus indirectly strengthening the economic pillar. However, this development spawned fears of a Europe that restricts its Member States’ budgetary and economic policies and hampers their policy-makers. This policy paper sets out to clarify the extent to which Europe’s new economic governance spawned by the crisis really does impinge on the sphere of national sovereignties.

Some Member States have de facto lost a part of their fiscal sovereignty due to their inability to fund their debts on the financial markets. These fall into the “IMF”-style power relationship, where the European authorities have the ability to enforce on a Member State both a set of results and the means to achieve those results. In this context, Member States adopted the permanent European Stability Mechanism [EMS], making it possible to offer financial aid to those countries in the euro area to help them cope with financial difficulties. Only four States (Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus) have so far fallen to this category, and these new powers over national sovereignty can only be exercised for as long as the aid programme is in force; thus, this new power relationship is not designed to last indefinitely.

As for preventing and correcting fiscal imbalances of Member States, the community has several tools at its disposal. One of them is Member State cooperation with the European Commission as part of the “European semester”, wherein each State submits either a stability programme (for countries in the euro area) or a convergence programme (for countries that are not members of the eurozone). Subsequently, the Commission issues recommendations for each Member State which were previously discussed in the European Council of Ministers.

Significantly, even though it may be compulsory to achieve the result enshrined in these recommendations, there is no obligation regarding the means to achieve that result. Following the adoption of the Stability and Growth Pact, Member States may be punished with sanctions or increased supervision as part of the Excessive Deficit Procedure [EDP]. Yet, despite this, no financial penalty has ever been imposed and the exercise is characterised by flexibility and approaching each Member State with a tailor-made solution. Reacting to the economic crisis, the EU also created a new procedure for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances which may be initiated should these imbalances seem out of control. The procedure has not been used yet, although the Commission voiced its concerns over microeconomic imbalances in Croatia, Italy, and Slovenia.

Two initiatives exist to coordinating economic policies of EU countries. First, the non-binding “Euro Plus Pact” project and second, the planned coordination of all member states’ major economic policy reform projects. Furthermore, in late 2012, the Van Rompuy report suggested moving towards contractual arrangements between the Commission and Member States in order to ensure the implementation of structural reforms at the national level.

The study concludes that Brussels only has the powers and the areas of jurisdiction that the Member States have assigned to it. While the “common action framework” has been strengthened with the recent reform of the European economic governance – in particular, through strengthening of the fiscal surveillance procedure and the establishment of a new procedure for macroeconomic supervision – Member States remain free to determine their own national preferences in the fiscal, economic and social spheres as long as they honour the “limits” they jointly agreed on. However, what Europe and the euro area need today is not so much a set of new rules or procedures as the reinforcement of the will to act together, of an awareness of our shared destiny.
(The study can be downloaded here: http://www.eng.notre-europe.eu/011-18893-Who-calls-the-shots-in-the-euro-area-Brussels-or-the-member-states.html)

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