Tuesday

6th Dec 2016

France keen for EU diplomats to beef up security, consular services

  • Ashton in Libya. France says the EU needs more security experts in hotspot delegations (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

France has called for the EU foreign service to hire a new cadre of security experts and to create consular departments in its overseas embassies.

It put forward its ideas in two non-papers, seen by EUobserver, which were circulated in Brussels ahead of talks by foreign ministers in Dublin on Friday (22 March).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

One paper says the Mali war "demonstrated once again" the need to "reinforce the EEAS' [European External Action Service's] security and defence expertise."

It says EEAS chief Catherine Ashton should hire "European military experts, policemen or gendarmes (to be financed by the EU and not by member states)" and put them in delegations in flashpoint countries.

With analysts critical of EU dithering on Mali before France's attack on rebels in January, the paper also calls for a shake-up in Ashton's administration.

It says she should appoint a secretary general to take charge of security and defence policy.

It also says she should clear up how her three crisis management units - the CMPD, the CPCC and EUMS - work together, putting the CMPD (Crisis Management Planning Directorate) in overall control.

France's second paper on consular issues outlines how to help EU expats whose countries of origin do not have embassies in their host nations.

It calls for the creation of "consular divisions" in EEAS delegations and for extra money to do the new work.

It says EU ambassadors should draft plans with member states' envoys on who does what in the event of a crisis and that the EU ambassadors should co-ordinate action if trouble strikes.

The French ideas are part of an EEAS reform process, designed to bear fruit in autumn.

They are less ambitious than a parallel German paper, which calls for the EU foreign service to take control of the European Commission's neighbourhood policy and development aid budget.

The German paper also notes "the EEAS' capacity to support MS' [member states'] consular activities should be reviewed," however.

Ashton, whose term in office finishes next year, has been accused of downgrading the security side of her portfolio.

But she has already started hiring new security experts in a pilot project.

The men are said to have military or police, but not intelligence backgrounds. One, a senior Italian military officer, is in place in Libya. Others were to go to Bosnia and the Horn of Africa. Their wages are being paid by member states, not out of Ashton's pocket.

France's idea is modelled on its own foreign ministry, which installs security experts as charges d'affaires - the number two post - in its embassies.

An EU source told this website that most number twos in EU delegations "know nothing about security."

He recalled crisis meetings with EU and member states' diplomats in one Middle East country in which "the EU people were always looking to the French guy to make sure they said the right thing."

The source noted that member states' interest in EU security arrangements is not selfless.

"The Italian guy is there in Libya to develop Italian business. It's useful to know that, say, tomorrow the EU will issue a €20 million tender for police reform. He can pass the information back home," he said.

"The UK has given Ashton an MI6 [British foreign intelligence] officer to do counter-intelligence in Brussels. But is he there to catch spies or to spy on what Ashton is doing?" he added.

MEP barred from questioning Oettinger on plane trip

The Hungarian Green MEP who uncovered EU Commissioner Oettinger's flight to Budapest on a private plane of a lobbyist was not allowed to ask the German politician on the issue in the EP.

Column / Rem@rk@ble

Juncker’s time is running out

EU Commission chief's defensive media blitz reinforces the very thing he wants to deny: It’s time to leave.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  2. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  4. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  5. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  6. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  7. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  8. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  9. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  10. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  11. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  12. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)

Latest News

  1. EU ministers approve 'Juncker plan' extension
  2. Commission tries to revive GMO opt-out proposal
  3. Merkel calls for Muslim veil ban
  4. Russia pipeline is security 'threat', US diplomat says
  5. Brexit deal must be done by October 2018, says EU negotiator
  6. Rising to the challenge of 'European Angst'
  7. Polish firm sues EU Commission over Gazprom privileges
  8. ID and police checks await all who enter and leave the EU