Assertiveness

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/LONDON | | grossbritannien

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/LONDON (Own report) - Berlin is insisting on access to essential posts in the European External Action Service (EEAS). According to news reports, the German government is demanding that the post of EEAS General Secretary be given to a German. Leading personnel from the Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry are being suggested. The general secretary heads the administration and is second only to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, who is considered to be very weak, meaning that a German EEAS general secretary would have a free hand. The structuring of the EEAS is one of Berlin's most essential objectives since the Lisbon Treaty took effect, reinforcing the EU on its path toward becoming a world power. As was expressed in Berlin's foreign ministry, the basic features of the new administration must be institutionalized by April 2010, so that the British Conservatives, expected to be the victors of the next parliamentary elections in the spring of 2010, will not be able to have any influence. They are capable of putting up serious resistance to German hegemonic policy.

Accommodation Claims

The debate around the structuring of the European External Action Service (EEAS) is becoming more heated since the Lisbon Treaty took effect December 1. Whether this new administration should be an appendage of the EU Commission or be an independent structure is one of the issues of this controversy. Berlin is in favor of the EEAS being independent of the Commission. It would thus be more accessible to EU member nations. A central power struggle is around the question of who will get key positions in that administration. The approx. 5,000 assistants currently employed in the EU Commission's foreign policy structures want to be accommodated. The EU nations are demanding that at least one-third of the future positions in the EEAS, mainly leadership positions, be set aside for their national personnel.[1] Since contradicting claims have to be taken into consideration, it is estimated that the final size of the EEAS will be between 6,000 and 8,000 employees.

Reliable

But Berlin is pressing for haste. Next spring, in May 2010 at the latest, parliamentary elections will be held in Great Britain. The replacement of the Labor government by a Conservative one is considered certain. The German government is doing everything possible that the basic structural features of the EEAS will be completed by April 2010. A Conservative British government could "otherwise complicate the implementation of the EEAS,"[2] as is diplomatically asserted in the German Foreign Ministry, where it is feared that London could seriously resist German plans to use EU Foreign Policy to rise to world power status. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[3]) The Labor government reliably accommodated German aspirations on decisive issues, for example the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The chairman of the Social Democratic European parliamentary caucus, Martin Schulz, noted with gratitude that during the vote on the treaty, the Labor MP, Catherine Ashton, was its dedicated promoter in the House of Lords.[4]

"Difficult Partner"

The German establishment is divided on the question of what role London should have in the EU. The chairman of the group The Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, Reinhard Buetikofer is against proposals to more intensely ostracize Great Britain. There are parties in his parliamentary group that are calling for the breakup of numerous European nation-states. The organization European Free Alliance (EFA) has published a map showing a greater Germany expanded to include Austria, as well as regions of Switzerland and Italy. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[5]) EFA partner, Buetikofer says that he "doesn't place much stock in the discussion about whether we would be better off, if we didn't have the British around." One has to rather "possibly give a difficult partner responsibility." "Better have them inside the tent pissing out, than the other way around."[6]

"The biggest Wimp"

Catherine Ashton's appointment as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is also to Germany's advantage. The German government was particularly set on preventing a strong British EU foreign policy chief - someone like David Miliband for example. But Berlin does not consider Ashton a threat. "Everyone has driven it home to her that she is he biggest wimp under the sun," according to Reinhard Bütikofer.[7] Berlin is now insisting on the post of general secretary in the EEAS, the highest ranking EEAS official, who will have decisive influence on EU foreign policy, given the weakness of the High Representative. It was to the German government's advantage that it had renounced on the posts of EU Council President and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and that it had not insisted on another German being EU Industry Commissioner. The fact that Günther Oettinger was appointed only EU Energy Commissioner is regretted in Berlin.[8] One opinion in Berlin is that Brussels is now indebted to Germany.

Central Command Post

Two candidates are reported to be in consideration, with Christoph Heusgen, the German chancellor's chief foreign policy adviser, being the favorite.[9] Heusgen, former chief of the European affairs division in the German Foreign Ministry, had directed the Policy Unit of the EU's High Representative Javier Solana from 1999 to 2005, which was considered to be the central command post for EU foreign policy decisions. Heusgen had had a major impact on the beginnings of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). He also participated in drafting the so called EU security strategy adopted by the European Council in December 2003.[10] Since 2005 Heusgen has been working in the German Chancellery.

Several Times Daily

Helga Maria Schmid is also proposed as a candidate for the General Secretary post. Like Heusgen, Schmid had worked in the German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel's office in the 1990s, and later served as office manager in Foreign Minister Joseph Fischer's office. Then, at the beginning of 2006, she took on Heusgen's earlier job in Brussels - in the directorate of Solana's political staff.[11] Speaking of her work at the beginning of 2007, she reported, "I make calls several times daily to the Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry."[12] Should she or Heusgen be given the top positions in the EEAS under Ashton, Berlin would direct EU foreign policy without rivalry. Both candidates are considered not only to be well connected, but highly assertive as well.

[1], [2] Angst vor Cameron treibt EU-Außenamt voran; EurActiv.de 24.11.2009
[3] see also Weltmachtpotenzial
[4] New foreign policy chief to start work next week; EUobserver 23.11.2009
[5] see also The German Ethnic Model (III) and The German Ethnic Model (IV)
[6], [7] Bütikofer: "Nicht immer hat die Mehrheit recht"; EurActiv.de 03.12.2009
[8] Neue EU-Kommission: Macht für Paris, Behelfsjob für Berlin; Spiegel online 27.11.2009
[9] Chefberater von Merkel soll nach Brüssel; Welt Online 05.12.2009
[10] see also A Greater Role in Europe
[11] Chefberater von Merkel soll nach Brüssel; Welt Online 05.12.2009
[12] Die wichtigsten 10 Deutschen in Brüssel; Welt Online 02.01.2007