Potential of a World Power

BERLIN/BRUSSELS |

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - Just a few days before the future leading positions for the EU are to be designated, Berlin is raising demands for access to leading posts in the European External Action Service (EEAS)and the EU Commission. As explained by the German Minister of State to the Foreign Ministry, Werner Hoyer, the EU Council President and the Foreign Minister do not have to be German, but Germany "lays great weight" on "relevantly participating" at the administrative level positions just below them, which are considered decisively influential on Brussels' policies. Berlin is giving the new External Action Service a particularly high priority, since it consolidates the EU's external policy and is supposed to provide Brussels with new global power impact. German policy advisors consider that the EU has the "potential of a world power" but point out that this potential must first be established through Brussels' external policy. It was under German pressure that the decision was made to place the EU's military planning and operation staff within the responsibility of the External Action Service, to be able to directly incorporate military operations into EU external policy. In the meantime, the German project of creating an EU army is winning favor. Last weekend the Italian Foreign Minister gave his accord.

Just a few days before the EU Special Summit on Thursday, wrangling persists over who will be given Brussels' two key functions. Several prominent politicians are campaigning for the posts of Council President and Foreign Minister. It is said that a decision will be made soon. The government leaders of the Benelux countries are said to have good chances. The president of the German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert (CDU) has spoken out in favor of Luxemburg's Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker. In the EU, Juncker is not known for obstructing German political projects. Belgium's prime minister is considered a possible compromise candidate, since, unlike Luxemburg, his country is not under such strong German influence. A candidate from Austria would be particularly convenient for Germany. For years, Austria has willingly been ready to support Berlin's foreign policy projects. But above all, the German government seeks to avoid having an official from Great Britain, who could thwart German projects.

Top Posts

As the German Foreign Ministry's Minister of State, Werner Hoyer, explained Monday, Berlin is demanding two things in return for Germany's renunciation on claims to the two top posts: Chancellor Merkel should have decisive influence over the decisions and secondly, Germany "lays great weight" on "relevantly participating" at administrative level positions just below the council president and the foreign minister.[1] These positions, whose officials, usually far from the public eye, can shape the EU's development, are considered to be decisively powerful. The general secretary of the European Council will be among the positions that will be determined. It is the general secretary, who is the highest administrative head of the EU nations in Brussels. In the meantime, the German chancellor has made it known that she insists for Germany the post of EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs - a great advantage for Europe's strongest industrial nation. After all, Berlin is seeking the leading posts in the newly created European External Action Service (EEAS), which, within the framework of EU external policy is extremely important.

External Action Service

German EU functionaries and political advisors are insistently pleading for giving the European External Action Service special attention. As Gerhard Sabathil, the director for strategy, coordination and analysis in the EU's Commission's general direction for external relations, declared the EU must be more decisive in its handling of world policy. Sabathil points to the replacement of the "G8" by the "G20", which has dramatically changed the global position of Europe. Whereas Europe was represented by 4 nations in G8, it has only 5 in G20. "The decisive question is to what extent can Europe compensate for this quantitative loss of power," Sabathil is quoted as having said.[2] It is "absolutely essential" that the EU's influence be reinforced with a cohesive external and military policy. The effectiveness of the EU's External Action Service will not only depend on its foreign minister but also the personnel at the highest levels of administration. This is the level Berlin wants to have direct access to.

Merge

It is quite possible to achieve substantial global political power, according to Werner Weidenfeld, one of the most influential German political advisors. Even though the EU's global involvement currently is rather rudimentary, Weidenfeld writes in a recent article, "Europe has the potential of a world power - it has top positions in global commerce, in global production as well as in research and education." Weidenfels resumes, "this potential (...) only needs adequate organization".[3] The set-up of the European External Action Service, due to start work in April 2010, is serving this objective, as well as the incorporation of all military planning and operational staff into the EEAS, that Berlin imposed against the will of Paris and London.[4] The EU's military operations and external policy planning will merge rendering consultations between the different branches of the bureaucracy superfluous.[5]

EU Army

The German call for a joint European Army (german-foreign-policy.com reported [6]), is gaining support. Last weekend, the Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, announced that his government will push for the creation of a European army, as soon as the Lisbon Treaty comes into force on December 1. If there were such a European army, "we could pool our forces in Afghanistan," Mr. Frattini declared: "Italy could send planes, France could send tanks, Britain could send armored cars, and in this way we would optimize the use of our resources."[7] Mr. Frattini said the Lisbon Treaty had established that if some countries want to enter into vanguard cooperation and establish a common defense, they can do so. Other countries could join later. This merger would deprive individual European nations the possibility of defending their sovereignty. It would also subordinate their armies to the European External Action Service in Brussels. And this would mean subordination under the power that can currently call the shots: Germany.

[1] Hoyer: Deutschland erhebt Anspruch auf wichtige EU-Ämter; AFP 16.11.2009
[2] Strategien für Europa in Zeiten des Übergangs; www.cap-lmu.de 10.11.2009
[3] Werner Weidenfeld: Mein Europa der Zukunft; Go Sixt Politik www.cap-lmu.de 28.09.2009
[4] Autonom oder angebunden? Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 23.10.2009
[5] EU military chiefs nervous about Lisbon Treaty implications; EUobserver 05.11.2009
[6] see also The Hegemon's Army
[7] Italy's Foreign Minister says post-Lisbon EU needs a European Army; The Sunday Times 15.11.2009