Parliamentary scrutiny of CFSP and CSDP: the way forward

WEU Assembly (Link) (April 2, 2010)

On Wednesday President WALTER yesterday spoke at a hearing of the Belgian Senate Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee on CFSP and CSDP issues and on the future of parliamentary scrutiny of those EU policies, in the light of the recent announcement by the British Government to withdraw the United Kingdom from membership of WEU and the subsequent announcement by all 10 signatory states concerning the winding up of the organisation by the end of June 2011.

The President said that with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty a transition period had begun during which various options regarding the future form of parliamentary scrutiny of European common foreign and security policy would be studied. The proposed demise of WEU was already serving as a catalyst to ongoing efforts to find the most suitable mechanism to ensure proper involvement of national parliamentarians in the European Security and Defence Policy. He regretted that governments had started a movement to close down WEU before a new arrangement was established, rather than the other way round. �As a consequence�, he said, �it is important and very necessary for interparliamentary scrutiny to continue in the Assembly until the new mechanism is up and running�. It was important too that the new mechanism was not simply a conference model because this would only allow for exchanges of views between parliamentarians, not scrutiny of EU actors and actions.

Members of the Belgian Senate Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee supported President Walter�s call to the Belgian EU/WEU Presidency (second half of 2010) to launch an initiative for a follow-up mechanism that could eventually replace the Assembly. Philippe MONFILS suggested adding this question to the programme of work of the Belgian Presidency.

The new mechanism would have to be compatible with the Lisbon Treaty, have the formal recognition of the EU Council and the High Representative, be given sufficient financial means and also involve European NATO member states. �Norway, Turkey and others are significant contributors to our operations and deserve to be associated in our interparliamentary cooperation�, said Mr WALTER.

The President of the Belgian Senate, Armand De DECKER, who presided over the hearing, said that national parliaments needed to make sure that their debates on EU policy were not confined to the national level. They needed to have an instrument available to them at the European level for interparliamentary dialogue and scrutiny by national parliamentarians. Another Senate member, Hendrik DAEMS, the Assembly�s Rapporteur for �CSDP monitoring by national parliaments and in the European Parliament�, added that the change now being imposed could offer the prospect of some significant improvements. Parliamentary scrutiny should in future be extended to deal with the wider issues of security, rather than being limited to purely military matters.

WEU announcement: 10-nation alliance to dissolve Fulfilled Prophecy (Link) - Holly Pivec (March 31, 2010)