EU foreign ministers call for reforms toward closer integration

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle. Eleven foreign ministers, led by Germany, have submitted a menu of proposals that include giving the bloc's diplomatic arm a stronger roled in development cooperation programs. Photo by: Dirk Vorderstraße / CC BY

With an eye on a more closely integrated European Union, 11 foreign ministers have put forward a menu of proposals that include giving the bloc’s diplomatic arm a stronger role in development cooperation programs.

The foreign ministers, led by Germany, outlined their proposals in a report released Sept. 17 in Warsaw, Poland. They identified creating a stronger economic and monetary union as an “absolute priority” and called for an overhaul how the bloc functions once the EU crisis is resolved.

Aside from Germany, the report is endorsed by ministers of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland and Spain. The report does acknowledge that not all of the ministers agreed to each proposal discussed.

The ministers’ proposals come just a few days after European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso pitched the idea of a “federation of nation states” during his 2012 State of the Union address.

Here are the proposals related to aid and development:

  • Revise the mandate of the European External Action Service in 2013 to render the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy responsible for “key external action areas.”

  • Improve how the EU foreign affairs council, which convenes the bloc’s foreign ministers, works.

  • Seek, whenever possible, joint representation in international organizations.

  • Develop a comprehensive approach — similar to the Common Foreign and Security Policy — on issues related to development aid, enlargement and neighborhood policy, and external economic affairs policy.

The report is to be reviewed by the European Council President Henry Van Rompuy. A number of the proposals would require changes to existing EU treaties and require time to be implemented, if ever.

The proposal to give EEAS a bigger role in development cooperation is likely to be watched closely by members of the European development community.

One particular area of interest would be in the delineation of roles between EEAS and the Directorate General for Development and Cooperation — EuropeAid. European nongovernmental organization network Concord, for one, has been consistent in its call for a clear and integrated vision for EU foreign affairs that would prevent a turf war between EEAS and EuropeAid.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.