Monday

26th Feb 2018

EU foreign policy chief misses UN meeting over speaking rights

  • The EU foreign policy chief wants to be pushed further up the speaking list (Photo: Council of the European Union)

Although the EU is the biggest donor to flood-stricken Pakistan, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton chose not to address Thursday's (19 August) special UN gathering on the devastated country because she does not yet have full speaking rights at the international forum.

Instead she phoned UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to give details on the €105 million that the EU and its member states are providing to Pakistan.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I would have represented the European Union myself in this meeting but for the fact that the appropriate speaking rights are not yet in place and expressed my wish that this hurdle can be overcome as soon as possible," said Ms Ashton is a statement.

Belgian foreign minister Steven Vanackere, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, was sent to represent the union instead.

"We too very much regret this fact," said a European Commission spokesperson. "Cathy Ashton very much wanted to go, but we can't do that under the current rules."

According to a source, Ms Ashton was reportedly ready to go New York for Thursday's gathering having already spoken at other UN fora such as the nuclear non-proliferation and Haiti donor meetings earlier this year, but was told the rules on speaking could not be bent at the more formal UN General Assembly.

The current situation means that neither of the EU two top representatives - Ms Ashton or European Council President Herman Van Rompuy - can properly take the floor in the UN Assembly in the name of the bloc. The current status means Ms Ashton may speak but only at the end of the speakers' list, reserved for those with observer status.

The EU submitted a resolution to change the odd situation in July. The submission followed much debate within the EU itself about what to actually put in the resolution, with some keen to see it as a stepping stone to EU membership of the UN Security Council, something vehemently opposed by the UK.

In addition there was also much discussion with other UN member groups such as ASEAN (the Association of South Eastern Nations) and the African Union who wanted the same rights.

However, EU diplomats say they won the argument by saying that the European Union is more institutionally established than other looser regional groupings. They are confident the resolution giving the EU the right to speak, the right of reply, to right to make proposals and amendments, and circulate documents, will be passed in September. The EU will not win voting rights, however.

"It's quite a big symbolic victory," admitted one diplomat.

The rights requested by the EU have traditionally been the prerogative of the countries that hold the bloc's six-month rotating presidency.

But under the EU's Lisbon Treaty, which came into force on 1 December 2009, the EU is now represented abroad by Mr Van Rompuy and Ms Ashton.

"The high representative has been working very hard to have this this resolution adopted as soon as possible. And we are hopeful that the resolution will be adopted during the week of the UN General Assembly in September," Ms Ashton's spokesperson said.

EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'

The 'Brussels bubble' ideas for transnational electoral lists was put on ice at the summit, while Jean-Claude Juncker's idea for an EU 'super president' was also rejected. The 'Spitzenkandidat' proposal backed by the European parliament also suffered a rebuff.

Agenda

Election fever picks up This WEEK

Italian general elections, a German coalition in the balance, and the European parliament fighting to get a voice in nominating an EU commission president. This and much more in a week packed with intrigue.

Opinion

EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy

Not extending the EU fisheries deal with Morocco to fish off the disputed coast of Western Sahara could deprive the Sahrawi people of much-needed income - and throw into question future EU foreign policy in the name of human rights.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table