Free «How can we explain EU member states' cooperation in foreign policy?» Essay Sample

The European Union is one of the important organizations in the world in terms of its role in international issues pertaining politics, humanitarian aid and security among other matters. This analysis focuses on European Union as a global player especially in the field of European political cooperation with special emphasis given to Common Foreign and Security Policy. The research further covers main reasons behind the involvement of EU member states in the Common Foreign and Security Policy. It is of great importance to note that foreign policy co-operation has a considerable effect not only on member states but also to the external world. There are indeed countless reasons behind the establishment of CFSP and every effort needed has to be incorporated in order to promote its functioning and achievement of its original objectives. To achieve this task, the research approach combined a number of political theories like neofunctionalism, intergovernmentalism and liberalism by the help of up to date sources that included but not limited to academic articles and online books.

Noteworthy, the CFSP always focuses on controlling the members of European Union in order for them to carry out their activities and roles in a more unified way especially in foreign policy and security matters. CFSP, also referred to as EU's third pillar, has received significant attention in response to EU's attempt in formulating autonomous functionality in foreign policy. Different member states have however had varying options with France arguing that it is a way of becoming a super power organ aimed at counteracting the United States of America. On the other hand, some member states figure it as a way of improving functioning mechanism of EU in supporting and cooperating with the United States (Common Foreign and Security Policy, 2009). These controversial positions have been seen dragging CFSP's progress with vital changes having been realized.

Like in any other organization in the world, cooperation among European Union member states is very important especially in Common Foreign and Security Policy. However, before Maastricht Treaty was effected in late 1993, the EU could not act nor speak for its member states since it had no defined single role in international affairs. Maastricht directed the EU to establish a foreign policy aimed at unifying member states and to allow them to speak in unison on diverse international issues. Progressively, the process of a foreign policy among EU member states was carved into the CFSP following the changes adopted in 1977 called the Amsterdam Treaty. According to the Amsterdam Treaty, there was need for the European Council to be represented abroad, a factor that led to the establishment of EU High Representative. To pursue the agenda of member states involvement and participation in foreign matters, the EU was committed to have independent military action by Cologne European Council of 1999.

This matter has continually been pursued under ESDP, European Security and Defense Policy by the High Representative. Consequently, the EU has been able to participate in international security issues; it deployed peacekeepers and observers to Chad in 2008 (Common Foreign and Security Policy, 2009). As a cooperative approach, it is quiet essential and necessary for EU member states to take charge in restoring peace abroad and saving lives.

As a significant European Union organ, the CFSP has undergone a number of changes aimed at strengthening its functioning among member states. For instance, the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 saw the merger of the roles of CFSP's High Representative with the position of External Affairs, a post currently held by Catherine Ashton from United Kingdom. It is believed that the merger aimed at strengthening many functionality organs of CFSP as it discharges its duties Eliassen (1998).

To encourage cooperation among EU member states in the in Common Foreign and Security Policy, it is the role of The High Representative for Foreign Affairs to create harmony and overseeing the implementation of EU's foreign policy through sound coordination. Although the exact powers of the Foreign Affairs position are not clearly defined, many believe that they are likely to be shaped by the leader in charge, Catherine Ashton in the near future. It is however important to mention that all decisions regarding Common Foreign and Security Policy are formulated in the European Council by member states. This not only promotes cooperation among member states but also ensures that every decision made is through consensus. This approach led to anonymous agreement by member states which led to the EU's involvement in keeping peace in Congo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia (Common Foreign and Security Policy, 2009). Additionally, the cooperation of member states led to the sending of observers to Indonesia and Gaza.

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Another reason why EU member states encourage cooperation in the Common Foreign and Security Policy is to ensure intergovernmentalism. This has seen many decisions made with unanimity especially in matters of foreign security. A good example of such decision was made in 2007 when the EU agreed to impose sanctions on Iran after it refused to stop its uranium enrichment which has been seen as an international security threat. Moreover, the Union also agreed to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe after 2008 undemocratic presidential elections.

Common strategies by the European Council have also been seen as ways of encouraging EU member states to cooperate in the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Examples of such common strategies include but not limited to peace and democratic promotion in Russia and Ukraine. The EU has several diplomatic missions in other countries under the authority mandated by the High Representative. Nevertheless, Qualified Majority Voting (74.8% majority votes) realized dramatic rise in the 2007 Lisbon Treaty. However, EU member states still had the authority to reject a decision or strategy (What does the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy involve? n.d.). An example of such a case is revolves around the relationship between Poland and Russia. Poland objected PCA, with Russia as a way of protesting against Polish meat ban implemented by Russia from 2005 to 2007. This emphasizes the fact that EU member states also have a choice of pursuing their policy goals which may not necessarily be guided by the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The 2003 Gulf War that was led by the United States saw many EU member states take different positions with Britain and other States being in full support of the idea despite the fact that a number of EU member states strongly opposed the move.

The question of whether or not EU member states cooperated long before signing several treaties that led to the formation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy is of paramount significance in understanding the functioning of EU. The European Political Cooperation was the main binding EU organ which focused on promoting harmony with regard to positions held on matters of international importance. The desire to cooperate drove EU in early 1970s leading to several treaties that led to the birth of the Common Foreign and Security Policy Eliassen (1998).

Notably, the Treaty of Amsterdam led to the formation of a common defense and security policy called the European Security and Defense Policy, ESDP. This policy encompasses all EU security matters such as the formulation of a uniform security policy that would strongly augment effectiveness in EU's international involvement and intervention. Under this policy, European member states endorse strategies and decisions passed before an anonymous action is taken. This participation of every member is viewed as a way of ensuring equal representation without segregation of other states. The policy however works closely with other organizations like NATO in developing realistic and achievable defense and security strategies. (What does the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy involve? n.d.).

Additionally, the European Union ensures the cooperation of its member states by focusing on strategic disaster management. This was established under the Nice Treaty which laid down permanent structures with a sole purpose of strengthening political and military functioning of the European Council. It has been achieved through the formation of several committees including political, military and security committee and free will of corporation among EU member states. Moreover, the EU has increased its domain by allowing third countries together with viable partners to participate in military crisis management. This is aimed at promoting unity and the spirit of togetherness not only among member states but around the world especially in times of crises which call for international intervention. The expansion of EU's functionality has also seen it work with other potential organizations like NATO especially in disaster management and preparedness through consultations in matters of command options and planning capacity (What does the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy involve? n.d.).

As mentioned above, the Treaty of Amsterdam is one of the most important achievements of EU and is considered as the pillar of CFSP. It highly strengthened action capacity of the Common Foreign and Security Policy through adoption of articulate tools towards decision making. As a result, the EU is in a position to adopt a decision based on majority vote among member states without regular contradictions which had been witnessed before. With regard to this approach, matters resulting to a veto by some member states are usually resolved by the European Council which has equal representation of each member state.

Common strategies have also been used by EU to strengthen its structures in relation to the Common Foreign and Security Policy and cooperation of member states. As the defining body of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU is able to make conclusive decisions through consensus especially in cases where member states have a common stance and interests. This ensures that no member overrides others in terms of superiority which in turn augments coherence implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy Holland (2005). These common strategies and positions reached at through qualified majority are usually forwarded to the council for formalization.

Since CFSP operates on decisions made by member states, unanimous voting is quite fundamental in the smooth running of the policy. On the other hand, constructive abstention among members is allowed as long as it does obstruct implementation and approval of decisions.

It is however noted that the abstention is not valid if the abstaining members contribute to more than a third of Member States.

The lucidity and harmony of the Common Foreign and Security Policy rests in the manner in which planning of various issues is done. This is directed by the reaction of Member States towards international development. It is clear that in the absence of proper coordination of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU would crumble and automatically fail to achieve its main objectives which laid the foundation of its formation. Joint interpretation and analysis of matters of international importance is very crucial in achieving development goals. Consequently, the union is focused towards early panning and admonition for the purpose of avoiding risks and enhances effectiveness Holland (2005). Under the Common Foreign and Security Policy, EU member states together with the secretariat and the Council lay emphasis on current development and future expectations and challenges.

It is indeed notable that the European Union is a Global actor in the field of European Political Cooperation and more so in Common Foreign and Security Policy. As a key player in matters of security and political progress in various nations most of which are Member States, the EU double emphasizes the need for constant cooperation among member states. This is solely achieved through adoption of common interest decisions, qualified majority voting, equal and fair representation of every Member in the council, High Representative and in various secretariats. Moreover, partnership with potential organizations like NATO has been very instrumental in matters of planning and expansion of EU's operational domain. It is therefore obvious that in the event that this cooperation among Member States is not embraced, EU will tremendously weaken and lead to its ultimate collapse. With the role it continues to play especially in Common Foreign and Security Policy, its fall would be negatively felt globally especially in matters of politics, security and humanitarian intervention which have remained to be driving pillars since its establishment.


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