New posts for more coherence

The new Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil is regard­ed as the indi­vid­ual who is sup­posed to bring fur­ther coher­ence to EU pol­i­cy-mak­ing. As for­mer Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter, he is high­ly respect­ed and was well received dur­ing his brief vis­it to Mal­ta ear­li­er this year. There is an assump­tion that his role will super­sede the role pre­vi­ous­ly held by the mem­ber state of the rotat­ing pres­i­den­cy, but there is a great deal of ambi­gu­i­ty among pub­lic opin­ion about the exact extent to which the rotat­ing pres­i­den­cy modal­i­ty will be made redun­dant. The fact that the Span­ish EU Pres­i­den­cy has adopt­ed a more or less “busi­ness as usu­al” atti­tude when it comes to their pres­i­den­cy has not helped to clar­i­fy the pre­cise role that the new Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil is expect­ed to play.

The new High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Union for For­eign Affairs and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy is regard­ed as an impor­tant new actor that should pro­vide a more coher­ent for­eign pol­i­cy per­spec­tive to the EU deci­sion-mak­ing process. Crit­i­cism of Cather­ine Ash­ton in the inter­na­tion­al media has not been mir­rored in the Mal­tese press. Most of the atten­tion has focused on the pol­i­cy plat­form that she is seek­ing to intro­duce in line with the Lis­bon Treaty agen­da with a par­tic­u­lar focus on reform of the EU’s diplo­mat­ic service.

The estab­lish­ment of the Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice (EEAS) is regard­ed as a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment as it should bring more coher­ence to the EU’s diplo­mat­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion glob­al­ly. An issue of con­cern is the extent to which every EU mem­ber state will have suf­fi­cient rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the future EEAS. Sim­i­lar to oth­er small states in the Euro­pean Union, the major con­cern of Malta’s gov­ern­ment is that a future EEAS should not be set up at the expense of small states being under­rep­re­sent­ed in the new EEAS. Mal­ta is thus lob­by­ing to ensure that a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of diplo­mats from Mal­ta are select­ed to also play a direct role in a future EEAS.

Mal­ta would also like to see future EEAS diplo­mat­ic train­ing pro­vide a focus on issues per­tain­ing to the Mediter­ranean. The Mediter­ranean Acad­e­my of Diplo­mat­ic Stud­ies, which has pro­vid­ed post-grad­u­ate train­ing to more than six hun­dred diplo­mats since open­ing its doors in 1990, has been iden­ti­fied as a venue where such train­ing can take place.11Hon. Dr. Tonio Borg, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs of Mal­ta, speech, sem­i­nar on the Span­ish Pres­i­den­cy of the EU and the Mediter­ranean, 18 March 2010.

The Euro­pean Cit­i­zens’ Ini­tia­tive (ECI) has not been wide­ly dis­cussed in Mal­ta. The media and cer­tain civ­il soci­ety spokesper­sons reg­u­lar­ly refer to the impor­tance of the EU address­ing its demo­c­ra­t­ic deficit. In this respect, if the ECI can offer a clear and trans­par­ent mech­a­nism through which the voice of cit­i­zens of the EU can be heard, then it would be a wel­come development.

    Footnotes

  • 1Hon. Dr. Tonio Borg, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs of Mal­ta, speech, sem­i­nar on the Span­ish Pres­i­den­cy of the EU and the Mediter­ranean, 18 March 2010.

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.