The final meeting for the group started with the lecture of Mr Miroslav Ivan, from the Department of General Affairs and Relations with EU Institutions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic, on the European External Action Service (EEAS). Mr Ivan elaborated all the aspects, all the achievements and things to be done, of the EEAS.
The establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS) was an important milestone in strengthening the EU’s institutional capacity. Its success depends on the sustained political support and collective commitment from Member States and the EU institutions, from the practical point of view, the EU Commission takes all the financial decisions concerning the EEAS.
Although, as the expert pointed out, the disputes in interpretations of the Lisbon treaty have resulted in blocking of many common EU declarations and actions (unless a solid agreement is reached on behalf of the European Union that has unanimous support, no common declarations could be published and released), according to the High Representative “the EEAS has offered the historic opportunity to rise above the debate on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty to deliver new substance to the European Union’s external action.”
In the turmoil of the Arab Spring the EEAS worked in close cooperation with the European Commission to develop an EU comprehensive strategy to the Arab Spring in the March communication "A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean." Furthermore, The EEAS and the High Representative played a pro-active role in international coordination efforts, together with the United Nations, the Arab League and other important actors in the Mediterranean region like Turkey. Its active engagement resulted in the creation of an international Task Force, which mission is to enhance the coherence of international support to countries in transition in the Southern Mediterranean, bringing together the European Union, third countries and International Financial Institutions.
While the EEAS has a lot of potential, the European Union itself still has to learn how to use it. The question of change of mind set of the EU representatives, within EU institutions and EU member states cannot be underestimated. Therefore, the idea of 2-or 3-speed European Union should not be neglected. It is important to remember that the EU foreign policy and diplomacy is in its inception and it has to compete with the developed diplomatic system of EU member states.
On Friday, 11 May 2012, Dr Erzsébet N. Rózsa from the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs joined the project participants and presented a complex analysis of the relations and policies of the European Union within the North Africa and the Middle East region.
The consequences of the Arab Spring for the European Union are such that the Union and the Western countries have moral responsibility to support the transitional process and democratization within this region and cooperate with all political actors that have arisen from elections. Though democracies in Western sense and perception might not develop, it is possible to assume that all Arab countries will be democratic to some extent. “If the Arab people will evolve from being the subjects to a ruler to citizens of states, then democracy will have a chance,” proclaimed Dr Erzsébet N. Rózsa.
The European Union has already allocated 3,5 billion euro for the period 2011-13 to the Southern Mediterranean countries, the EU financial support aims to address the issues of governance, employment and youth. Thus, for successful implementation of reforms, the EU foreign policy has to accept Islamic representatives as equal partners and to establish a dialogue with them. The Union needs to implement and strike for creative ways of cooperation within already established frameworks: Euro-Med Partnership, European Neighbourhood Policy and Union for the Mediterranean. Dr Rozsa suggested that the European Union should re-enliven mutual cooperation with Arab countries.
The “EU Foreign Policy Shaping: From Brussels to Tunis" project is organized in the framework of the Youth in Action Program of the European Commission. The project of the Slovak Atlantic Commission is prepared in collaboration with Euro-Atlantic Centre, Corvinus Society for Foreign Affairs and Culture and Hungarian Atlantic Council. The project will introduce its promoters and participants to the way foreign policy is created on the European and implemented on the local level. For this purpose the project will use the specific example of Tunisia, which will be used to explain EU foreign policy decision-making process and implementation. The project will bring together 16 participants from Slovakia and Hungary (aged 18 – 25 years of age).
The “EU Foreign Policy Shaping: From Brussels to Tunis" project is organized in the framework of the Youth in Action Program with financial support of the European Commission.