Sunday

2nd Oct 2022

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

  • Germany's David McAllister (l), chair of the committee, with Angela Merkel (Photo: CDU Niedersachsen)

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee (AFET) ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia in the next five years, according to its German chairman, David McAllister.

They should also help forge an EU "Weltpolitikfähigkeit" ('world-politics capability') vis-a-vis the US and China, he said. But AFET contains the same divisions that have held back member states from acting together, its Polish deputy chairman indicated.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The European Parliament has no decision-making powers on EU foreign policy, which member states do by unanimity.

But AFET MEPs have in the past "played a prominent role in parliamentary diplomacy, including in mediation and conflict prevention" and the EP's "diplomacy role should be strengthened" in the new legislature, McAllister said.

MEPs should support Western Balkans enlargement, promote democracy in former Soviet countries, push for implementation of a Russia-Ukraine ceasefire deal, and help develop EU strategy on the Middle East and Africa and on counter-terrorism and migration, he said.

AFET deputies should also "promote multilateralism and a global rules-based order", the German added. EU-US relations had faced "challenges and disruptions", but must be fixed, and EU-China ambitions must not forget "human rights", he noted.

If AFET helped the EU emerge as "a global leader", that would be its biggest achievement, McAllister said. But issues such as reforming EU foreign policy unanimity, getting along with US president Donald Trump, and Russia could be "controversial", the German politician warned.

And member states' divisions were replicated inside AFET, its deputy chair, former Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski, indicated.

Speaking out on Russia's "open conflict" against Ukraine and on the need for Russia sanctions should be the committee's top priority, Waszczykowski said, in a narrower threat assessment.

And EU gripes on Trump should not be used to mask that reality, he added. "Some see Trump as more of a danger than [Russian president Vladimir] Putin, to marginalise the Russian threat, and that is not acceptable to us," he said.

Poland was unlikely to give up its foreign policy veto in the EU Council for the sake of "Weltpolitikfähigkeit", in a position he justified. "This is not a cultural problem, or a community problem, it's a matter of national security," he said.

But the divisions also had ideological roots, his comments suggested. "Federalism is a recipe for catastrophe," Waszczykowski said. McAllister's German chancellor Angela Merkel opened EU doors to refugees in 2015, but that was a mistake because "the next wave could be even bigger" and we "have to stop such an invasion", the AFET deputy chair said.

Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany) is the committee coordinator for the centre-right group, with Tonino Picula, (S&D, Croatia), Hilde Vautmans (Renew, Belgium).

Other coordinators include: Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA, Germany); Thierry Mariani (ID, France) ; Anna Fotyga (ECR, Poland); and Idoia Villanueva Ruiz (GUE/NGL, Spain) and Manu Pineda (GUE/NGL, Spain).

This article first appeared in EUobserver's latest magazine, Who's Who in European Parliament Committees, which you can now read in full online.
Nordic PMs meet youth to close climate gap

Eager to engage with climate-engaged youth, eight Nordic prime ministers met with nine young political leaders in Stockholm for the first time this week. But did the youngsters take the bite?

Magazine

Six priorities for human rights

Belgian socialist MEP Marie Arena is chairing the European Parliament's sub-committee on human rights. Her biggest challenge? Finding ways to reach objectives that cover an enormous spectrum of issues - from climate to child protection.

Magazine

EU must manage climate and industry together

For Romanian centre-right MEP Adina-Ioana Valean, the previous chair of environment committee and current chair of industry, research and energy (ITRE), climate and industrial policy-making must go hand-in-hand to bring sustainability and prosperity to Europe.

Magazine

ENVI to deliver 'Green Deal' as main priority

The French liberal MEP Pascal Canfin, who is chairing the European Parliament's committee on environment, public health, and food safety, is adamant to deliver the Green Deal quickly - because "we cannot afford to waste time".

Magazine

Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee offers a snapshot of the European "state of mind", says its chair Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar. Its biggest challenge will be getting member states to unblock the EU asylum package.

Magazine

Development to fuel change

The European Parliament's development committee says its overarching priority will be to deliver on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving that will require an action plan and targeted investments, says its chair Swedish centre-right MEP Tomas Tobé.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Magazine

Which parties and countries chair the EP committees?

Although the European Parliament tries to keep a geopolitical balance within the committees, the breakdown of the actual chairs of the committees by political party and nationality is uneven - with a clear under-representation of central and eastern EU countries.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  2. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  3. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  4. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  5. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  6. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  7. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  8. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us