Dealing with global challenges requires greater coherence

The EU's newly appointed 'Foreign Minister' bears a heavy responsibility for developing the EEAS Foreign Service together with the Member States and strengthening the EU as a global player. This requires greater emphasis on EEAS development policy, as well as a review of the role and contribution of EU delegations to this policy. That is the opinion of Kristina Henschen, chairman of CONCORD Sweden.

On 1 November, Federica Mogherini took over the EU Foreign Service as the Union's new "Foreign Minister". She has a tough task ahead of her. In addition to today's hotbeds of foreign policy unrest, the EEAS has had difficulty getting the EU to speak with one voice on foreign affairs. If the EU is to be able to handle the global challenges of the future, Mogherini must review how the EU pursues foreign and development policy, including together with Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström and Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. The Commission's new structure and statements on the importance of coherence are a sign that the EEAS is on the right track.

The EU's 'Ministry of Foreign Affairs' EEAS (European External Action Service) was set up in 2010 to address the lack of coherence in foreign and security policy. Before the existence of the EEAS, the EU's foreign policy was implemented by several different institutions, which often formulated their policies independently of each other. This often made it impossible to coordinate policy and speak with one voice. As Federica Mogherini now succeeds Catherine Ashton as the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, there is reason to review how the EEAS has succeeded in its mission during its first four years.

CONCORD Sweden, together with CONCORD Europa, has followed the work of launching the EEAS, with a special focus on whether the EU's commitment to all policies in line with the work for sustainable development (Policy Coherence for Development, PCD) has been reflected in both institutional structure and practical policy.

Our conclusion is that if the EEAS is to be able to deal with the global challenges of the future, an increased focus on coherence is required: the Union's action in various policy areas must not run counter to the EU's development goal of eradicating global poverty in the long run. For this, CONCORD has some recommendations:

Give increased weight to development policy. EEAS has an important function in merging security and foreign policy with development policy. Looking back in time, EEAS has placed more emphasis on the former. This is a problem, not least from a coherence point of view, as the line between development policy and traditional foreign and security policy is often blurred. Today's global Challenges, whether climate change, poverty reduction or conflict, are often closely intertwined and require action in several policy areas simultaneously.

In relation to conflicts outside the Union's borders, the EEAS 'approach so far has often been to address the security dimension first and create the conditions for development later. But the EEAS has a responsibility not only to act when the conflict is a fact but also to review its preventive work. It can be about working through development efforts to develop democracy and reduce inequality. The EU can also, through its trade policy, promote fairer access to resources for people in developing countries, or create rules that prevent tax evasion that severely erode the economies of many countries and provide a breeding ground for instability.

Review EEAS 'institutional structure. If Mogherini is to succeed in delivering a unified foreign policy, she must also review the EEAS 'structure and relations with other institutions. A recent report by the think tank European Think Tanks Group (ETTG) recommends that the Foreign Service cooperate better at the highest level, across ministries and between institutions and Member States. This is because a lack of clarity about what the EEAS's areas of responsibility are and a territorial thinking between Directorates-General with overlapping areas of responsibility according to the ETTG is a threat to coherence.

In addition to an increased focus on policy coherence with EU development goals, CONCORD also wants to see a review of the role and contribution of EU delegations in development policy. The staff resources for working on development issues in the Delegations need to be strengthened, the Delegations' mission to report on the effects of EU policies becomes clearer and the division of responsibilities and governance linked to the PCD is clarified.

Member States need to take responsibility. Mogherini has a heavy responsibility to develop the EEAS and to strengthen the EU as a global player through improved coherence. But the member states, including Sweden, also play an important role. Sweden must work to ensure that EU Member States ensure that the EEAS promotes a coherent development policy, for example by working in the Council of Ministers to ensure that the new structure for the Commission ensures that all aspects of foreign policy take development goals into account.

Some changes in the new Commission suggest that the EEAS is on track for the new term. When asked by Mogherini, who is also Vice-President of the European Commission, the European Parliament raised the issue of coherence as an important instrument for creating a more effective foreign policy, stating that "there is no EU internal policy area that does not have a external dimension ”. She also mentioned trade as an important tool in achieving the EU's goal of eradicating poverty. As the new Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström has a central role in this respect, as the EU can show through its trade agreements with, for example, African countries that the Union is serious about its cohesion policy.

Another factor that can facilitate the work for greater coherence is President Jean-Claude Juncker's new Commission structure, where Commissioners work in clusters. Mogherini's cluster will include seven commissioners responsible for trade, development, migration and humanitarian efforts. CONCORD sees several possibilities with this solution. The previously mentioned role for trade policy is an example where closer cooperation between commissioners is needed, and Mogherini also mentioned the global agenda for sustainable development post-2015 as a process where collaboration is of great importance.

But there is also a risk that development policy with the new structure will be subordinated to the EU's economic and security policy interests. The EU's commitment to coherence is something the Union has legally committed itself to, and the EEAS must now work to live up to this commitment being implemented in practice.

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