Thursday

23rd May 2019

'Ramshackle' EU efforts at UN annoyed allies

  • UN plenary hall in New York (Photo: Yang and Yun's Album)

The European Union's surprise upset in New York this week in its attempts to win expanded rights at the United Nations was a result of "ramshackle" strategy that even disgruntled some of the bloc's closest allies, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to diplomats close to the proceedings.

"One word describes how the EU acted there: Confusion, overall confusion," one diplomat told EUobserver.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"It was a ramshackle, pretty disorganised EU strategy," the official continued. "The process fell apart. It was not thought through properly and their people just did not consult widely."

"They did not really consider the possible objections, especially from the Caribbean, and thought they would just die away."

Another diplomat described it as "an absence of tactical nuance".

The three British Commonwealth countries are some of the European Union's closest global allies and ordinarily very rarely vote against the bloc, but on Tuesday in New York they all abstained on a motion delaying discussion of a UN General Assembly resolution that sought to allow European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to address the UN chamber.

The motion was narrowly defeated 76-71, with 26 countries abstaining.

The resolution would also have awarded the EU, which currently only carries observer status at the UN, the right to make proposals and submit amendments, the right of reply, the right to raise points of order and the right to circulate documents. Together, the resolution would have given the EU almost all the rights that a sovereign member state of the UN enjoys.

There would also be additional seats put in the chamber for the EU's foreign policy chief, High Representative Catherine Ashton and her officials.

However, the three countries viewed the implications for the structure of the UN from the resolution as profound, given the movement on all continents of the world towards regional integration.

With a very large number of countries in the General Assembly uncomfortable on waving the motion through without further consultation on what it means for them and, indeed global governance, "it would have been a very bad idea straight out of the starting gate to have much of the world in opposition to the EU on this."

It is understood that the delegations received the wording of the EU motion very late the night before the vote, which was to take place early the following morning.

Annoyed at the way the EU handled itself, the three Commonwealth countries consulted each other before taking the decision to abstain.

The three remain "fully supporters of the EU. There was no opposition to the issue itself by any means. The issue was process, not the content."

It is not thought that the countries' own efforts at regional integration in North American in the case of Canada and the Asia-Pacific region in the case of the antipodes presented any stumbling blocks.

"If done in the right way, the resolution will of course be supported."

Other regional blocs, notably Caricom, feel it is unfair that the EU be awarded extra rights at the UN and not themselves as well.

Caricom, a gathering of Caribbean countries, had floated the idea of a delay, but only for a few days so that there could be additional consultations. As well as being close to the EU, Ottawa is also very tied to the Caribbean.

According to a Canadian diplomat, "We are supportive of the EU on the substance, and would have supported the draft resolution if it had come to a vote."

"This being said, it was clear a large number of delegations were not yet on board and wanted more time."

"Canada in consultation with Australia and New Zealand decided to abstain to respect the desire of much of the membership to have more time for consultations in an effort to reach consensus."

The issue is likely to return to the agenda in the coming days, not as late as next year as originally thought.

Analysis

Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

Exclusive

Ombudsman backs EUobserver on MEP expenses

The European Parliament should have granted access to documents on a decision about how transparent MEPs should be in future with their office expenses, says EU Ombudsman.

EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

EU institutions want Facebook to relax its rules, to allow pan-European political groups to carry out EU-wide campaigns. Facebook has yet to implement the demands - posing questions on the extent to which Europe relies on the US tech firm.

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us