Minister Roche welcomes proposals to enable the EU to play a stronger role for peace
Minister of State Dick Roche T.D. today welcomed proposals for “a more coherent EU external policy that would enable the Union to play a stronger role for peace.” The Minister was speaking during a debate at the Convention on the Future of Europe on the report of the Convention Working Group on External Action.
The Minister said ‘The EU is uniquely placed, as a community of values and common interests, to play a significant international role for peace, stability and prosperity.' The EU has at its disposal a broad range of instruments from trade and aid, to conflict prevention and crisis management tools. “What we need to do is examine how these tools can be used more effectively so that the Union can deliver a clearer message in support of peace whilst fully respecting the values and traditions of its Member States,” said the Minister.
The report contains a number of suggestions aimed at improving the coherence, effectiveness and visibility of the EU's external relations, including in the areas of development cooperation, trade policy and the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Commenting on the report, Minister Roche said ‘We all want to see a Union capable of playing a positive world role in support of the common values and shared interests of its Member States. This report contains a number of positive proposals and we, along with other Partners, will give them detailed reflection.'
The Minister took particular note of the proposal to combine, or ‘double-hat', the positions of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the External Relations Commissioner, saying it had the potential to bring about greater coherence of EU policy.
The Minister indicated a concern that the report should state more clearly that poverty eradication should remain the primary objective of the EU in the area of development cooperation.
The Government has played an active and positive role in the Working Group on External Action, in keeping with the priority which the Government attaches to the work of the Convention as a whole. “We have brought forward a range of constructive proposals aimed at enhancing the way the Union interacts with the wider world,” said the Minister. A paper tabled by the Government representative on the Group received broad support, and many of the practical measures it proposed, such as appointing Deputy High Representatives for thematic areas and ensuring the necessary human and budgetary resources are available, have been taken on board in the final recommendations.
Minister Roche also welcomed the outline of principles and objectives in external policy which will serve as a statement of the values for which the Union stands. The statement gives a high priority to the UN Charter, human rights, sustainable development and conflict prevention.
Notes for Editors
The Working Group on External Action was set up to examine ways to bring greater coherence, effectiveness and visibility to the EU's external relations, including its development cooperation programme, trade policy and the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The Government was represented on the Working Group by Bobby McDonagh. John Cushnahan MEP was also a member. The chairperson of the Group was former Belgian Prime Minister and Vice President of the Convention, Jean Luc Dehaene.
In its report, which was published this week, the Group proposes a number of changes to the way the EU conducts its external relations. These include a proposal to combine the positions of High Representative for the CFSP, currently held by Javier Solana, and the Commissioner for External Relations, currently held by Chris Patten, and a statement of Principles and Objectives of EU external action.
A separate Working Group on Defence issues was set up under the chairmanship of the Regional Policy Commissioner, Michel Barnier. The report from this Working Group was also discussed by the Plenary of the Convention on 20 December 2002.Top