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The European Union mid-term priorities at the United Nations

The EU Council just published “The European Union mid-term priorities at the United Nations” (Update: slightly revised version) for “public diplomacy use”. I suppose that this means that there is a second document “for secret diplomacy use”. And indeed, reading through the “priorities” looks like a long shopping list of diplomatic blabla – whether it’s worth anything is hard to assess.

But is it really hard to assess? Well, let’s look at the first “priority” in the chapter UN architecture/reform:

“We will actively work to further strengthen the UN and enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, accountability and representativeness of the system. We are committed to continuing deliberations for the reform of the UN System and of its main bodies and organs. We support the revitalization of the General Assembly and the reform of the Security Council.”

Let’s contrast this first priority with the findings of the 2011 academic article “The EU’s Performance in the United Nations Security Council” by Spyros Blavoukosa and Dimitris Bourantonis regarding the UN Security Council reform:

“If we take for granted the EU rhetorical commitment to UNSC reform, then the obvious conclusion is that the EU performance in terms of both effectiveness and efficiency is very poor. Little if any progress has been achieved despite the investment of a great deal of resources on a national basis. […] In the three stages of the debate, the EU member states have not managed to articulate a single position to defend and push forward collectively […].

For the majority of member states, resources have been mostly invested in efforts to safeguard their own privileged position (e.g. the UK and France), pursue their own national priorities (e.g. Germany, ‘new Europe’), and undermine other EU partners’ political aspirations (e.g. Italy and Spain to a lesser extent). Thus, the EU engagement in the UNSC reform debate lacks focus and cohesion, reflecting the varying relevance attributed by its member states to the EU as a forum to pursue national objectives.”

One wonders whether the other “priorities” in the EU’s mid-term public-diplomacy-use document are pursued as vigourously and with as much unity. If yes, the level of blabla in the document will be matched by a respective level of failure.



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