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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 65, July - August 2002

Opinion & Analysis

The Emerging European Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Agenda on Chemical and Biological Weapons

By Daniel Feakes

Support for the reinforcement of global non-proliferation and disarmament is at the core of the external action of the EU.1
The disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery will continue to draw the greatest attention of the EU.2


For many years, the most appropriate description of the European Union (EU) and its predecessors was that coined by a former Belgian Foreign Minister at the beginning of the 1990s: "Europe is an economic giant, a political dwarf and a military worm".3 Even through most of the 1990s, the EU emphasised "soft security" and shied away from involvement in "hard security" issues such as chemical and biological warfare (CBW) disarmament and non-proliferation. However, as the statements above demonstrate, times have changed and it is now possible to hear the EU described as an "entity in arms control" by diplomats. Two recent examples of this are the coordination of EU member states' positions during the 5th Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Review Conference late last year and the provision of EU financial assistance for the destruction of chemical weapons in Russia.

In December 2001, the EU adopted a targeted initiative which has subsequently been developed into a comprehensive agenda of support for weapons of mass destruction arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, based on activities in four areas: multilateral instruments; export controls; international cooperation; and political dialogue. While EU and non-EU diplomats alike now recognise the EU as an actor in CBW disarmament and non-proliferation, there is less certainty as to how and why this situation has developed and what it means for future negotiations and for EU member states' relations with other countries. There is also a lack of awareness about EU activities in trade, public health, civil protection and research which also contribute towards the "reinforcement of global non-proliferation and disarmament".

The Emergence of the EU as a Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Actor

Camille Grand has identified a "European non-proliferation acquis", or accumulated body of experience, related mainly to nuclear non-proliferation, dating back to the 1980s.4 At that time, European action with regard to CBW was limited to statements by the Presidency in international meetings, such as the UN General Assembly First Committee or the 2nd BWC Review Conference.5 European statements were also made at the 1989 Government-Industry Conference against Chemical Weapons and the 1993 signing ceremony for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). In addition, the European Commission has participated in the meetings of the Australia Group (AG), operating a CBW-related export controls regime, since at least the early 1990s.

There are a number of factors which explain the transition from these fairly limited beginnings to the EU being considered a disarmament and non-proliferation actor, some of which are internal to the EU and others external. Internally, since the early 1990s the EU has been engaged in an almost continuous cycle of evolutionary constitutional development marked by the Treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice.

The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht established the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) "covering all areas of foreign and security policy" and including "all questions related to the security of the Union", thereby bringing disarmament and non-proliferation firmly within the scope of the EU. The Treaty states that member states shall "work together to enhance and develop their mutual political solidarity. They shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations."

The subsequent Treaties of Amsterdam (1997) and Nice (2001) have elaborated upon the CFSP provisions of Maastricht. Another internal 'driver' has been the quest for visibility, a word used frequently by EU officials to describe the requirement for the EU to be seen to be doing something in a particular area, for the benefit of its own citizens and third countries, especially the US. The quest for visibility was a primary concern in the 2001 decision to increase financial assistance to Russia for the destruction of its chemical weapons. The decision states that "the EU should also be visible in connection with nerve gas destruction" and that the project will "increase European visibility" by virtue of the EU playing a "prominent role in the chemical weapons field".6

Externally, the events of September 11 and the subsequent anthrax-letter episodes have resulted in increased EU activity in certain areas, particularly public health, civil protection and research. Heightened concerns about international terrorism have also contributed to EU diplomatic activity on disarmament and non-proliferation, best reflected in the launch of a targeted initiative exploring "the implications of the terrorist threat on the non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control policy of the EU".7 However, this initiative is also indicative of another, perhaps more important, external influence: judging by its subsequent development, it has little to do with terrorism, and a lot to do with traditional EU approaches to disarmament and non-proliferation. The initiative would likely have been launched anyway, in response to another perceived threat; the withdrawal of the US from a number of international negotiations and its apparent ambivalence towards multilateral arms control. It is this which has largely driven the EU's increased activity on disarmament and non-proliferation over the past twelve months. As the US has appeared to lose faith in the utility of international agreements, the EU has become more vocal in its support of multilateral regimes and negotiations. This is implicit in a European Commission paper which states that "the danger is not of US isolationism but of unilateralism. A more cohesive Union, speaking with one voice or singing from the same hymn sheet, will be better placed to counter such tendencies."8

EU Diplomatic Action: "Policy Straitjacket" or "Laboratory of Consensus"?

Diplomatic action is not the only way in which the EU has furthered its CBW disarmament and non-proliferation agenda. However, diplomacy has provided the framework within which this agenda has been advanced and is the most visible aspect of EU activity. Studying the available literature and talking to officials offers no consensus assessment of EU diplomatic action in the CBW field. An oft-heard criticism is that the coordination of positions within the EU has placed member states in a "policy straitjacket", with initiatives profoundly constrained by the requirements of Union solidarity and the lowest common denominator requirements of agreement among the Fifteen.9 Others, however, argue that EU interventions benefit from the input of multiple points of view, that it can sometimes be useful to tie other member states to particular positions, and that the process of negotiating positions among the Fifteen often results in the EU operating as a "laboratory of consensus".10

Before attempting an assessment of EU diplomatic action on CBW, it is first necessary to understand its background and working methods. The intergovernmental character of the CFSP means that the main players are national officials rather than Brussels-based diplomats or the supranational European Commission.11 Of particular importance, especially in terms of priority-setting and relations with third countries, is the member state holding the rotating, six-monthly EU Presidency. However, this is not to say that the CFSP functions along traditional intergovernmental lines familiar from other international organisations in which the intensity of cooperation is quite limited. Helen Wallace and William Wallace instead use the term intensive transgovernmentalism to better describe the "greater intensity" of the CFSP "where EU member governments have been prepared cumulatively to commit themselves to rather extensive engagement and disciplines, but have judged the full EU institutional framework to be inappropriate or unacceptable."12

The hub of the EU's "extensive engagement" on CBW disarmament and non-proliferation is the ministerial-level General Affairs Council (GAC) and, more specifically, two of its preparatory bodies, the Working Group on Global Arms Control and Disarmament and the Working Group on Non-Proliferation. These groups, known by the acronyms CODUN and CONOP respectively, each meet for one day a month in Brussels, usually back-to-back. Both groups are attended by senior disarmament and non-proliferation officials from the 15 ministries of foreign affairs.

The mandates of the groups overlap somewhat, but some distinctions can be made: issues relating to the CWC, BWC, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), small arms and land mines are discussed in CODUN, while CONOP is responsible for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), other non-proliferation and export control regimes, and assistance to Russia for chemical weapons destruction. The working groups are serviced by personnel from the non-proliferation and disarmament section of the Council's General Secretariat, and an official from the Commission's security policy unit participates in all the meetings.13 CODUN and CONOP are not decision-making bodies; they serve as a forum in which issues and events can be discussed and in which statements, positions and decisions are drafted for submission to the General Affairs Council. It is usually the case that drafts from the working groups are non-contentious and are therefore rubber-stamped by the ministers without further debate.

Two relatively new institutions have yet to play much of a role in disarmament and non-proliferation. The High Representative for the CFSP, currently former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, and the Political and Security Committee (PSC) have concentrated on crisis management and defence-related issues, although the PSC did conduct its first general discussion of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation issues in March under the Spanish Presidency.14

The EU, the Biological Weapons Convention and the BWC protocol

Stretching from 1995 to 2001, the incomplete negotiation of a verification protocol for the BWC offers a convenient model for examining the development of EU activity on BW disarmament and non-proliferation. Overall EU policy on the BWC is discussed in CODUN and agreed by the General Affairs Council. The guiding principles are contained in two Common Positions adopted by the Council in 1998 and 1999 which set out the provisions the EU believed were necessary for an effective protocol.15

Under the UK Presidency (January-June 1998), CODUN established a sub-group of technical experts that drafted a number of working papers submitted in the name of the EU to the BWC's Ad Hoc Group (AHG) negotiating the protocol in Geneva. By the 21st session of the AHG (November-December 2000), 14 working papers had been submitted by the EU collectively, along with almost 90 papers submitted by individual EU member states.16 In June 2001, as the endgame of the negotiations approached and rumours of US opposition began to circulate, the GAC described the protocol as "a much needed instrument in the overall multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regime", stressing the "high priority" it attached to the successful conclusion of the negotiations by the end of 2001.17 To reinforce this message, the Swedish and Belgian Presidencies presented démarches (diplomatic representations, signalling the especial importance attached to the issue at hand) to four key AHG participants - China, Iran, Russia and the US - during May, June and July 2001.18 The démarche presented by the Swedish ambassador in Washington re-emphasised "that [the EU] considers negotiations on the composite text, with a view of finalising it before the 5th Review Conference, as the best way forward, and that it hopes that the USA would consider the situation in a similar fashion."19

The Treaty of Amsterdam states that EU member states "shall coordinate their action in international organisations and at international conferences. They shall uphold the common positions in such fora." EU positions on major issues in the AHG and the Review Conferences were hammered out in the monthly CODUN meetings in Brussels while the practicalities of implementing such positions were organised in coordination meetings in Geneva before and during the AHG or Review Conference sessions.

The burden of arranging coordination falls to the Presidency - a fact which can itself have an impact on the way in which coordination is implemented. As one diplomat has said, "not all presidencies are created equal", and some obviously have more technical expertise and resources at their disposal than others. Presidencies also differ in their use of the coordination mechanism. This was apparent at the 5th Review Conference when Belgium, a keen European integrationist, held the Presidency and surprised some EU delegations by imposing a stricter form of coordination than customary during previous AHG sessions. The Belgian Presidency not only gave the usual opening statement on behalf of the EU, but requested other EU member states not to make their own national statements. Belgium also wanted to make all subsequent interventions on behalf of the Fifteen.20 This arrangement actually broke down fairly rapidly and was replaced by a division of labour in which individual member states were responsible for representing the EU on specific issues.

Opinions differ as to the success of this approach. Some feel that the voice of the EU in the Conference was in fact diminished by having only one statement where there might previously have been several, and that by imposing such strict standards of unanimity on member states some proposals did not get submitted while others were submitted with which, ironically, not all member states felt happy. Others, however, feel that EU coordination was "perfect" and increased the visibility of the EU as a disarmament and non-proliferation actor. It was also noted that the proposals submitted to the Conference by the EU21 actually benefited from the input of multiple points of view. In this respect, the EU acted as a "laboratory of consensus", the product of which could be more acceptable to the whole conference than a national proposal.

Whatever one's opinion of the effectiveness of EU coordination at the Review Conference, NGO observers and third country diplomats will have to adjust to this new influence upon EU delegations. Once committed to a position, EU diplomats are unlikely to incur the wrath of their ministries by breaking consensus among the Fifteen without a very good reason. The precedent set by the Belgian Presidency in November/December 2001 is likely to be repeated in future meetings. The implications of this for non-EU countries with close relationships with EU member states could be significant.

The "List of Concrete Measures" - an Agenda for Action

Following the suspension of the 5th BWC Review Conference, activity within the EU has focused on furthering the targeted initiative launched by the General Affairs Council in December 2001. The Belgian Presidency intended that a list of concrete measures be drawn up to implement the initiative. The task of drafting the list has fallen to the current Spanish Presidency which has duly pushed it along in CODUN and CONOP. The list was considered by the PSC in March and was adopted by the General Affairs Council on 15 April.22 The four-page list contains 42 proposals for action related to all aspects of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation in each of the four areas listed by the Council: multilateral instruments; export controls; international cooperation; and political dialogue. Regarding CBW, the proposals range from the general - "working for the successful conclusion of a reconvened 5th BWC Review Conference", to the specific - "translate and process information coming from BWC-CBMs [confidence-building measures] in usable databases".

The list is an ambitious step in the development of an EU arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation agenda. It is made all the more important by the apparent enthusiasm of the PSC, CODUN and CONOP to translate the proposals into actual activities. In this, it represents a quantum leap in EU policy, which had previously been characterised by a declaratory approach lacking measures to translate exhortations into practical solutions. It is significant then, that the list ends with the statement that "the Council will consider the adoption of common positions and joint actions to assure the effective implementation of the listed measures." The following analysis will only address the CBW-related proposals in the list.

The most detailed chapter of the list, dealing with multilateral instruments, is subdivided into four sections: supporting universality of treaties; working for their effective implementation; supporting international organisations; and reinforcing multilateral instruments.

The EU and its member states will promote universal adherence to the CWC, BWC and 1925 Geneva Protocol banning the use of chemical and biological weapons in war, presumably through further rounds of démarches to signatory and non-signatory states. All EU member states and candidate countries are members of the three treaties, except Slovenia which has not yet joined the Geneva Protocol. Interestingly, the EU will also tackle the long-neglected issue of reservations to the Geneva Protocol by lobbying for their withdrawal. Portugal is the only EU member state to have made a reservation and not yet withdrawn it.23

The list calls for the Fifteen to promote compliance with obligations and commitments and highlights the importance of national implementing legislation. Specifically, it calls for the "timely, consistent and full" submission of CWC declarations and BWC confidence-building measures and for the translation and processing of the CBMs. With respect to the CWC's implementing authority, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, the EU will support its work by "sustaining and expanding" the Organisation's capabilities to conduct effective inspections, particularly challenge inspections and investigations of alleged use. In response to the commitment to "review and, if needed, strengthen" national implementing measures, the EU is already carrying out an internal survey of member states' legislation and regulations dealing with dangerous pathogens and toxins. In many of the areas covered by the multilateral instruments chapter, the EU has been active for many years. For example, at least once a year the EU sends démarches to all states not yet party to the CWC. The meagre results of this annual exercise illustrate, however, that political exhortations, no matter how frequent, are not always effective in isolation. It is to be hoped that the EU consider some more innovative strategies alongside the traditional instruments in implementing the list's proposals.

A separate chapter on the list, dealing with export controls, commits the EU to assessing appropriate ways of improving the existing regimes, including the Australia Group, and to enhancing EU coordination mechanisms in order to improve information exchange practices within the regimes. All EU member states (but not all candidate countries) participate in the AG, and as early as 1989 the General Affairs Council adopted controls on the export of certain precursor chemicals.24 The completion of the Single Market in 1992 provided an impetus for the adoption of a comprehensive regime for the control of dual use items in 1994.25 This regime was based upon both the intergovernmental and the supranational pillars of the EU, a legal distinction which was criticised in two 1995 European Court of Justice rulings. After a long drafting process, the Council therefore adopted a new regime in June 2000 which controlled the export not only of tangible items but also of intangible technologies.26 In addition, the new regime is based solely on the supranational pillar of the EU, thus giving the European Commission a larger potential role, although to date it has been very sensitive to the national security concerns of member states.

The Commission is a fully-fledged participant in the AG, and staff from the Council's General Secretariat sit with the EU Presidency delegation at AG meetings. While the Commission's AG delegation cannot match EU member states in terms of technical expertise and resources, it does serve a useful role by pointing out possible synergies. The Council has a Working Group on Dual-Use Goods which is made up of policy staff from the member states' economic and trade ministries, while the Council also established a 'coordinating group', chaired by the Commission, which meets quarterly and consists of delegates from national licensing agencies. The "list of concrete measures" commits the EU to examining ways to improve the enforcement of this regime and to considering whether further regulatory measures need to be adopted. The dual-use regime is a part of the 'acquis' which the candidate countries are expected to build up by the time of their accession to the EU, an event which could happen in 2004 for a number of countries, although the Commission judges that "further alignment" is necessary for some candidates. The list later expresses EU support for the membership of the candidate countries "in all export control regimes". In June, the EU and US are due to hold expert-level consultations on the coordination of their export control assistance to other countries.

The international cooperation chapter of the list obliges the EU to improve preparations for international assistance in relation to the CWC and BWC and to provide assistance through the OPCW in case of the use or threat of use of chemical weapons. Already, ten EU member states have made contributions to the OPCW voluntary fund for assistance which, taken together, amount to 68% of the almost &#1281 million in the fund. However, only seven EU member states have made unilateral offers of personnel or equipment to the OPCW and none have yet entered into formal bilateral agreements with the Organisation.

Clearly this area is primarily a responsibility of those EU member states in possession of the appropriate resources, and some, particularly Austria and Sweden, have already been very active in this area, especially in collaboration with the OPCW. However, there is also likely to be a role for the European Commission which has recently established a Civil Protection Mechanism with a permanently-staffed monitoring and information centre.27 The Commission has also created a group of nuclear, biological and chemical experts on 24-hour alert to respond to a large-scale terrorist attack within or outside the EU and a group of experts in defence against chemical and biological weapons. The Commission is an active member of the G-8 global health security initiative and has established an ad hoc health security committee and a joint task force comprised of national public health experts. The Commission's aim is to improve information exchange and coordination between member states and to develop an inventory of available vaccines.28

The international cooperation chapter also commits the EU to "supporting and enhancing", within its "financial possibilities", its assistance to the destruction of chemical weapons in Russia. Since the mid-1990s, the Commission has been indirectly supporting the demolition of former Soviet chemical weapons production facilities. In 1999, the GAC decided to establish an EU Cooperation Programme for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in Russia.29 Under this decision, the EU allocated almost &#1286 million to assist in the construction of a destruction facility at Gorny. One aim of the programme is to provide a "legal and operational framework for an enhanced European Union role in cooperative risk reduction activities". Activities within this framework were expanded in 2001 with the extension of funding to the Shchuchye destruction facility (&#1282 million) and to the Russian Munitions Agency (&#1280.7 million).30 The implementation of the projects is overseen by the European Commission which has experts in Brussels and Moscow, while the funds are administered by Germany and the UK which are already involved at Gorny and Shchuchye respectively.

The list's political dialogue chapter requires the EU to intensify its dialogue on disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation, specifically with countries in Asia and the Middle East. The EU already conducts hundreds of political dialogue meetings every year with third countries, some of which are devoted to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation issues. Such meetings usually occur in Brussels, but can also take place in other capitals, or in the margins of meetings like the UN First Committee or a BWC Review Conference.

The EU is represented in these meetings by the so-called 'troika' which is led by the current Presidency, but also includes the future Presidency, the European Commission and the General Secretariat. When the meeting is on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, the EU side will be represented by a 'CODUN troika', a 'CONOP troika', or frequently a joint 'CODUN/CONOP troika' made up of the respective delegates from the working groups.

Political dialogue meetings with the candidate countries for EU membership, Russia, the US, Canada and Japan are a long-standing feature of the working groups' calendars. Recently, new meetings, with China, South Korea and Brazil, have been added to the calendar. The EU also already engages with states such as Iran, with which the EU has had a comprehensive dialogue since 1998 involving one troika meeting per Presidency at which non-proliferation issues are discussed.31

A recent product of successful political dialogue was The Madrid Commitment adopted by EU and Latin American and Caribbean leaders in May this year. The declaration highlights the "importance of the multilateral strengthening of international legally binding and political instruments to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction", and goes on to support, among other things, "attaining a regime that would enhance trust in compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention in accordance with the mandate of the Ad Hoc Group."32

The political dialogue chapter also proposes inviting "like-minded countries outside of the EU", presumably states like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to join efforts to promote the universality of multilateral instruments.

A Common EU Strategy on Chemical and Biological Weapons

Among the innovations introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam was a new CFSP instrument, the Common Strategy, to be added to the existing Joint Actions and Common Positions. The treaty specifies that the European Council (the meeting of EU heads of state and government) can adopt Common Strategies "in areas where the Member States have important interests in common." CBW disarmament and non-proliferation would appear to be one such area. Common Strategies can be either geographic or thematic, although to date only three have been adopted and they have all been geographic, dealing with the EU's relations with Russia, Ukraine and the Mediterranean. These three Strategies have been criticised in some quarters and a review of their implementation has been undertaken. At present, then, it is not altogether clear how the EU will continue to make use of this instrument.33 However, some form of overall thematic strategy with respect to CBW is still required, in whatever guise.

To some extent, the "list of concrete measures" is the equivalent of a Common Strategy, but it is limited to diplomatic action and traditional CFSP areas. As has been noted above, there are also many relevant activities being undertaken in non-CFSP areas, for example by the European Commission. Although civil protection and public health might seem far removed from disarmament and non-proliferation - or may have, before the anthrax scares of last year - they contribute indirectly to solutions and countermeasures by forming essential elements of the 'toolbox' available for addressing the CBW threat.

There are also many relevant activities conducted by EU member states in non-CFSP areas, the effectiveness of which could be increased by coordination among the Fifteen. By adopting a Common Strategy on CBW, the European Council would not only be enhancing the effectiveness of the EU response to these weapons and their proliferation, but it would also be sending a clear signal to third countries, particularly the US, that the EU is taking the problem seriously and that its response is firmly rooted in multilateral solutions. A common strategy would also address the important requirement of creating synergies between the individual pillars of the EU.34

The drafting of a Common Strategy on CBW does not need to be a long drawn-out process. On the diplomatic side, much work has already been done with the adoption of the "list of concrete measures". All EU member states, individually and collectively, have expressed their support for the Geneva Protocol, the BWC and the CWC and all are convinced that the best way to strengthen the BWC is by a legally binding instrument. The institutional machinery is in place for the EU to express its positions and to consult with many other countries, not just its close allies. On the non-CFSP side, September 11 and the anthrax letters served to launch a range of activities directed against the use of CBW, especially by terrorists. Many of these activities and programmes are summarised in a communication from the European Commission.35

The Commission has already convened at least one internal meeting bringing together all those dealing with non-proliferation and disarmament issues, but more such meetings will be necessary. A Common Strategy containing practical activities and achievable targets could be calculated to greatly enhance the EU's position as a strong supporter of multilateral approaches to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The analysis of the "list of concrete measures" leads to some preliminary recommendations. While some of the proposals listed below are cost-neutral, others entail significant costs or might be a political step too far, at least at present, for some of the EU's more cautious member states. However, if support for the reinforcement of global disarmament and non-proliferation is truly "at the core of the external action of the EU", as stated in the 2001 CFSP report, then it deserves to be funded accordingly.

With regard to multilateral instruments:

  • promote universality and implementation of the CWC and BWC, support outreach seminars and establish a participation fund to allow developing countries to send delegates to conferences
  • set an example by ensuring all EU members states and associated countries are active members of all multilateral treaties (as mentioned, for example, Slovenia is not a party to the Geneva Protocol and Portugal still maintains reservations to it)
  • support verification activities by funding practice CWC routine and challenge inspections and perhaps hosting trial BWC visits and investigations
  • adopt a Common Position for the 5th BWC Review Conference, scheduled to resume in November this year, committing EU member states to strengthening the BWC through a follow-up mechanism and reaffirming EU support for multilateral negotiations on a legally-binding instrument

with regard to export controls:

  • use the EU dual-use goods regime as an example for other countries and as a model for the regional implementation of CWC and BWC export controls
  • all the associated countries should be brought into the Australia Group to increase its coverage of eastern Europe and to avoid disparities within the EU (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Malta do not yet participate in the AG)
  • provide technical assistance in establishing export control systems to third countries

with regard to international cooperation:

  • make a contribution to the OPCW's voluntary fund for assistance and propose establishing a similar fund for the BWC
  • coordinate the assistance which EU member states could provide in the event of the use of chemical or biological weapons based upon the civil protection mechanism and negotiate a bilateral agreement with the OPCW
  • substantially increase the assistance for chemical weapons destruction provided to Russia
  • expand the geographical scope of the Joint Action Russia programme and use it as the basis of an EU equivalent of the US Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programme and as a mechanism for coordinating bilateral arrangements between EU states and third countries

with regard to political dialogue:

  • make use of the profile and contacts of the High Representative for the CFSP by having him present EU positions at important conferences and raising arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation issues in his bilaterals with third country ministers and leaders
  • expand the countries with which the EU has regular political dialogue meetings on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation issues beyond traditional partners to more "problematic" states
  • intensify political dialogue on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation issues with 'like-minded' countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand and involve them in joint initiatives
  • consult more fully with NGOs and regularise contacts to involve, for example, one meeting at working group level per Presidency
  • include the membership and compliance status of third countries with relevant treaties in the summary files kept by the General Secretariat and take this information into account in negotiations and contacts with third countries

Finally, all of these recommendations would be much enhanced if the EU adopted some form of comprehensive strategy in this area, bringing together the relevant activities of its constituent parts and thus exploiting any available synergies. One approach would be for the European Council to adopt a "Common Strategy on the EU Response to Chemical and Biological Weapons", under which the activities of the Council, the Commission and the member states could be coordinated. The Brussels-based Political and Security Committee should devote at least two of its sessions per Presidency to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation issues and oversight of this comprehensive strategy.

Notes and References

1. Council of the European Union, Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Main Aspects and Basic Choices of CFSP - 2001, adopted April 26, 2002.

2. European Union, European Union Priorities - 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, adopted July 16, 2001, on the internet at http://ue.eu.int.

3. Quoted in: William Drozdiak, "Once again, Europe follows American lead", Washington Post, March 26, 1999, p. A1.

4. Camille Grand, The European Union and the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Western European Union (WEU) Institute for Security Studies, Chaillot Paper No. 37 (January 2000), p. 6.

5. See, for example, European University Institute, European Foreign Policy Bulletin, at www.iue.it/EFPB, documents 86/250 and 85/241.

6. Council of the European Union, "Decision 2001/493/CFSP of 25 June 2001 implementing Joint Action 1999/878/CFSP with a view to contributing to the European Union Cooperation Programme for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in the Russian Federation", published in Official Journal of the European Communities, L 180 (July 3, 2001) pp. 2-15.

7. Council of the European Union, Conclusions of the 2397th Council meeting - General Affairs, 15078/01 (Presse 460), Brussels, December 10, 2001.

8. European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the Council: Reinforcing the transatlantic relationship: Focusing on strategy and delivering results, COM(2001) 154 final, March 20, 2001.

9. Rebecca Johnson, "The NPT Third PrepCom: What Happened and How?", Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 37 (May 1999), p. 15.

10. Camille Grand, op.cit., p. 48.

11. The European Commission is "fully associated" with the CFSP and it can lay before the Council any foreign and security policy issue and submit initiatives to it. However, its right of initiative is not exclusive as is usually the case with Community policies. To date, the Commission has been reluctant to be too pro-active in using its powers in the CFSP field.

12. Helen Wallace and William Wallace, Policy-Making in the European Union, 4th Edition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 33.

13. The role of the General Secretariat should not be overlooked. The rotating Presidency gives the Secretariat a vital role in ensuring consistency between the six-month periods and means that Secretariat staff becomes the "collective memory" of the Council. Secretariat staff sit in on all meetings of CODUN and CONOP and political dialogue meetings with third countries.

14. The PSC meets twice a week to "monitor the international situation in the areas covered by the common foreign and security policy and contribute to the definition of policies by delivering opinions to the Council". It is attended by ambassadors based permanently in Brussels.

15. Common positions are one of the CFSP instruments provided for by the Treaty of Maastricht. They are more significant than simple declarations or statements as the treaty requires that member states "shall ensure that their national policies conform to the common positions."

16. Graham Pearson, "Progress in Geneva: 13th quarterly review", The CBW Conventions Bulletin, No. 50 (December 2000), p. 19.

17. Council of the European Union, Conclusions of the 2356th Council meeting - General Affairs, 9398/01 (Presse 226), Luxembourg, June 12, 2001.

18. Council of the European Union, Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Main Aspects and Basic Choices of CFSP - 2001, adopted on April 26, 2002.

19. "8 June [The Dutch Foreign Minister]", in: "News chronology", The CBW Conventions Bulletin, No. 53 (September 2001), p. 35.

20. The UK was the only EU member state to make an individual statement, which it did in its capacity as a depositary of the BWC.

21. "Proposals: Working paper submitted by the European Union", 5th BWC Review Conference, BWC/CONF.V/COW/WP.23, November 27, 2001.

22. Council of the European Union, Conclusions of the 2421st Council meeting - General Affairs, 7705/02 (Presse 91), Luxembourg, April 15, 2002, pp. II-VI.

23. See the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), "Geneva Protocol reservations", at http://projects.sipri.se/cbw/docs/cbw-hist-geneva-res.html.

24. Council of the European Community, "Council Regulation (EEC) No 428/89 of 20 February 1989 concerning the export of certain chemical products", published in Official Journal of the European Communities, L 50 (February 22, 1989) pp. 1-2.

25. Council of the European Union, "Council Regulation (EC) No 3381/94 of 19 December 1994 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports of dual-use goods", published in Official Journal of the European Communities, L 367 (December 31, 1994) pp.1-7; and "Council Decision 94/942/CFSP of 19 December 1994 on the joint action adopted by the Council of the basis of Article J.3 of the Treaty on European Union concerning the control of exports of dual-use goods", published in Official Journal of the European Communities, L 367 (December 31, 1994) pp. 8-163.

26. Council of the European Union, "Council Regulation (EC) No 1334/2000 of 22 June 2000 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports of dual-use items and technology", published in Official Journal of the European Communities, L 159 (June 30, 2000) pp. 1-215.

27. Council of the European Union, "Council Decision 2001/792/EC, Euratom of 23 October 2001 establishing a Community mechanism to facilitate reinforced cooperation in civil protection assistance interventions" published in Official Journal of the European Communities, L 297 (November 15, 2001) pp. 7-11.

28. European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Civil protection - state of preventive alert against possible emergencies, COM(2001) 707 final, November 28, 2001.

29. Council of the European Union, "Council Joint Action 1999/878/CFSP of 17 December 1999 Establishing a European Union Cooperation Programme for Non-proliferation and Disarmament in the Russian Federation", published in Official Journal of the European Communities, L 331 (December 23, 1999) pp. 11-16.

30. Council of the European Union, "Council Decision 2001/493/CFSP of 25 June 2001 implementing Joint Action 1999/878/CFSP with a view to contributing to the European Union Cooperation Programme for Non-proliferation and Disarmament in the Russian Federation", published in Official Journal of the European Communities, L 180 (July 3, 2001) pp. 2-15.

31. European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: EU Relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, COM(2001) 71 final, February 7, 2001.

32. European Union - Latin America and Caribbean Summit, The Madrid Commitment, 8802/02 (Presse 133), Madrid, 17 May 2002.

33. Peter Norman, "Solana hits at EU foreign strategies", Financial Times, January 23, 2001, p. 9.

34. The Commission plays an important role in pointing out synergies. While a national CODUN representative, for example, may not be aware of discussions in the civil protection or health security groups, the Commission CODUN representative is more likely to know, as internal consultations are easier to carry out within the Commission, which is much smaller than most national bureaucracies and which has most of its Directorates-General based in the same building in Brussels.

35. European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Civil protection - state of preventive alert against possible emergencies, COM(2001) 707 final, November 28, 2001.

Daniel Feakes is a researcher with the Harvard Sussex Program (HSP) on CBW Armament and Arms Limitation. The Harvard Sussex Program is a collaboration between faculty at Harvard University in the United States and at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom that began in 1991, building on 25 years of prior collaboration between its two co-directors. The programme undertakes research, publication, other forms of communication, and training in support of informed public policy on chemical/biological warfare. For more information, see http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hsp.

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© 2002 The Acronym Institute.