The European Parliament is seeking to bolster its role in the bloc's common foreign and security policy (CFSP), with senior MEPs saying it is time for Europe to become a "player and not just a payer" on the world stage.
The proposed new EU foreign minister and diplomatic service as well as the possibility for a group of member states to move ahead in defence cooperation mean foreign policy is "one of the most innovative parts of the treaty."
The fact that Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, will for the first time be present at the MEPs' annual debate on CFSP on Wednesday (4 June) is in itself a "turning point," said the Pole at a briefing on Tuesday.
Euro-deputies will today debate a report that sets out principles for the EU's foreign policy - such as respect for human rights - calls for certain issues to be prioritised and says that the CFSP budget from now until 2013 is "insufficient."
The report also calls for parliament to be given greater democratic oversight over the area, which to date has remained firmly the domain of member states.
It suggests that the foreign minister "regularly" appear before MEPs and that the parliament be "fully consulted" on who the foreign minister should be, as well as what the diplomatic service should look like.
The Lisbon Treaty will strengthen the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) but the scope of the changes will very much depend on the composition of the new troika to be appointed in 2009, according to MEPs and experts participating in a European Parliament workshop.
The Lisbon Treaty, which was signed by European heads of state and government in December 2007 and is expected to come into effect in 2009, brings with it several changes for the ESDP.
The most notable one is the upgrade of the position of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR), a role currently held by Javier Solana. The HR, who will be supported by a European External Action Service (EEAS), will also serve as a Commission vice-president and will technically be the Union's foreign minister.
Moreover, the new treaty provides for an extension of the Petersberg Tasks on peacekeeping, disarmament and conflict prevention and resolution as well as 'permanent structured cooperation' of those member states "whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments".
The text also includes first-ever mutual defence and solidarity clause in an EU treaty.
- Parliament: The Lisbon Treaty and its implications for CFSP/ESDP (February 2008)
- Parliament: The Impact of the Lisbon Treaty on ESDP (January 2008)