The European Union and the dream of a common foreign policy based on the present Libya intervention

Term Paper 2011 16 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: European Union



1 Introduction

2 Historical overview
2.1 The Treaty of Maastricht
2.2 The Treaty of Amsterdam
2.3 The Treaty of Lisbon

3 The intervention in Libya

4 The behavior of the most important members of the EU in the Libya crisis
4.1 France - Engaged endeavors in Libya
4.2 Great Britain - France’s Best friend
4.3 Germany - The skeptics

5 A dream still remains a dream

6 Bibliography
6.1 Books
6.2 Online sources

1 Introduction

If the European Union wants to be a serious actor on world stage they need more strategic thoughts and above all the real and permanent will of the Member States acting together. The national states are too small for the challenges of our epoch. How to save the climate, guarantee security or offer economic prosperity, if all these topics are interweaved within the international system?

Moreover a new constellation in the international policy becomes obvious. The unipolar moment of the USA is over. With the rise of China and India the multipolar world will be more and more important. Therefore a new balance has to be created by those states.

The European Union has no choice: It has to take up these challenges but it has also the potential to develop the rules of the new world order. The EU makes 35 percent of the world production and the world’s biggest exporter of goods.[1] Its population is with more than 500 million inhabitants bigger than the population of Russia and USA together.

The lack of the common foreign policy is so serious because European Union is liable to break down as an actor in the world policy. Its political and economic interests reach clearly over its territory. Moreover the European Union is affected directly from crisis or conflicts concerning raw material supply or energy supply.

Relating to security policy the European Union is currently threatened by really different groups (from Al-Qaida to Somali pirates). Because of those problems the EU has to be incomprehensible as a global actor.

Just because working together in the foreign policy is so important this paper has the goal to find out whether the Member States of the EU are able to cooperate concerning current crisis in Libya. Therefore follows at first a short historical overview about the historian steps to come closer to a common foreign policy in the EU. Then there is a short summary about the intervention of Libya. After that you have to analyze the behavior of the most influential Member States (France, Great Britain and Germany) because if they have common position in the field of foreign policy it is more easier for the EU to reach a common point of view for all Members. Last but not least you have to come to a conclusion whether a European Union common foreign policy exist or not.

2 Historical Overview

At the beginning of the European cooperation the Member States of the European Economic Community (EEC) agreed in fields like the common market or a customs union. Owing to these ideas they got very successful in economic cooperation, but they couldn’t work as an economical “giant” if they were a political “dwarf’[2]. Therefore the member states were forced to build a political institution for their common foreign policy.

In 1954 an attempt to create a European Defence Community failed because the French Parliament did not ratify the treaty. The Gaullists had the opinion that the new plan limited their national sovereignty.[3] Seven years later the French government of Charles de Gaulle worked out a new plan to form “a progressively developing union”.[4] The so called “Fouchet Plan” was rejected especially by the Dutch government but the other members were also not pleased about it. So this plan failed, too.

The first important step in the way of a common foreign policy was made in December 1969. At the Hague Summit the European leaders instructed their respective foreign ministers to examine the possibility of a closer integration in this political domain. The result was the Davignon Report from October 1970 which suggested launching the European Political Cooperation (EPC).[5] The EPC was an intergovernmental act and was based on consensus between the Member States. But even the EEC had a new institution; the EPC could not ensure that all Member States had a common position in this field. Especially after the collapse of the Soviet System and the beginning of the Yugoslav Wars and the uncertain political future for the Eastern and Central countries the weakness of EPC was obviously. Moreover the unification of Germany and its increased size and influence took the EPC on a challenge to think about ideas improving the ability to act. These changes were important for the choice to establish a real institution for a common foreign policy.[6]

2.1 The Treaty of Maastricht

The Treaty of Maastricht also known as Treaty on European Union (TEU) consolidated the wish of a common foreign policy in 1992. To reach this goal the countries had different ideas and concepts. The Germans had the imagination that the prospective Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) would be focused on institution-building whereas the French had the wish to stress its capabilities. There were also argumentations between Member states which focused more on their national sovereignty and them which supported a community framework and also between followers of an American leadership in the European territory n (Nato) and Member states which preferred a greater European autonomy.[7]

Really after tough negotiations the EPC was changed into the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and it constituted the second pillar of the newly founded European Union.[8]

So "A common foreign and security policy is hereby established”[9]

Even the word “common” appeared in the new term, the CFSP was exactly as like as the EPC based on intergovernmental cooperation. Hence it follows the important players in the control of the CFSP were the European Council, the institutions of the Council and of course the governments of the Member States. So the norm for the second pillar was a “unanimity-based decision-making”[10].

Compared with the EPC the CFSP was a major step forward because it defined the instruments for CFSP and it erected legal obligations for the Member States. So all in all the CFSP established a legal framework through this the EU got the possibility to act in cases of international politics.[11]

But even the CFSP had a good basis to work for a real common foreign policy according to the treaty of Maastricht it did not manage that all Member States have a same position in this field. The most important topic in the first working years of CFSP was the future of the former Yugoslavia. This crisis showed the inability to act and the dependence on the USA regarding European security policy.[12] So the CFSP was already far away from their goal to speak with one voice in foreign policy.

Moreover the working of the USA and the Nato at this time prevented the process the European Member states was working closer together. Although the USA knew that the European states felt responsible for the crisis in Yugoslavia, the USA started to intervene and finally dominated the negotiations with the Dayton Agreement as the result.[13] Nevertheless, in 1994 at the Nato summit in Brussels, Nato states and above all the US realized that the European community “should pay a larger role in maintaining the security of their own - „ region .[14]

2.2 The Treaty of Amsterdam

To increase the ability to act of the CFSP an International Conference took place between 1996 and 1997. The concluded Amsterdam Treaty introduced further innovations. The heads of state and government established the position of a High Representative of the CFSP, who acts for the European Union in the international political fields. The first High Representative of the CFSP became Javier Solana.[15]

However, the office of High Representative entered increasingly in competition with the External Relations Commissioner, who was different to the High Representative not responsible for the Council, but for European Commission. Otherwise both had the exactly the same competences.[16] Also a part of the competences of the High Representative intersected with those from the Presidency of the Council of the General Affairs and External Relations Council. This fact threatened the “offer of coherence”[17] in the CFSP.

Unfortunately, the new achievements did not prevent the differences in foreign policy between the Member states during the Iraq-crisis.[18] In the run up to the Iraq-War in 2003 the European Union separated because of the question of a common position in the United Nations and towards the world power USA. After the regulations, resolutions and promises explained before, Member States of the EU had to agree to one common point of view so that they could speak with one voice. But the reality looked really differently.

In spring of 2002 the British Prime Minister Tony Blair sided with the US President George W. Bush without informing the EU. Six months later the German chancellor Gerhard Schröder promised his voters to say no to a military intervention in Iraq also without contacting the EU as like as the French. Consequently the CFSP could not create a common point of view and the border between US-supporters and US-non-supporters became more and more obvious. There were also states like Sweden or Austria which acted essentially neutral.


[1] Weidenfeld, Werner, Die Europäische Union, Parderborn, 2010, P. 186.

[2] Horváth, Zoltán, Handbook on the European Union, Budapest, 2007, P. 486.

[3] Wallace, Hellen, Pollack, Mark A., Young, Alasdair R., Policy-Making in the European Union, New York, 2010, P. 432.

[4] Ibid., P. 433.

[5] Horváth, Zoltán, Handbook on the European Union, Budapest, 2007, P. 487.

[6] Ibid., P. 487.

[7] Wallace, Hellen, Pollack, Mark A., Young, Alasdair R., Policy-Making in the European Union, New York, 2010, P.434.

[8] Horváth, Zoltán, Handbook on the European Union, Budapest, 2007, P. 487.

[9] Article J of TEU.

[10] Horváth, Zoltán, Handbook on the European Union, Budapest, 2007, P. 488.

[11] Ibid., P. 490.

[12] Ibid., P. 491.

[13] Wallace, Hellen, Pollack, Mark A., Young, Alasdair R., Policy-Making in the European Union, New York, 2010, P.435.

[14] Ibid., P.435.

[15] The French Delegation to the EU Political and Security Committee, Guide to the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), Brussels, 2008, P.6.

[16] Ließe, Olaf, Die Europäische Union nach dem Vertrag von Lissabon, Wiesbaden, 2010, P.201.

[17] “Offer of coherence“: is a regulation of the European Union of which all organs have to work together at their actions to reach the goal of the European Union. (article 3 TEU).

[18] Weidenfeld, Werner, Die Europäische Union, Parderborn, 2010, P. 187.


ISBN (eBook)
File size
651 KB
Catalog Number
Institution / College
University of Bucharest
Euroäische Union EU European Union Außenpolitik foreign policy Libya Libyen Intervention Gaddafi Vertrag Masstrich Lissabon Frankreich France England Germany Deutschland EPC Wunsch dream




Title: The European Union and the dream of a common foreign policy based on the present Libya intervention