Unilateral Foreign Policy Capacities and State Preferences on cfsp rationalism´s Contribution to Explaining German, French and British Policies Towards cfsp

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Wolfgang Wagner

Institute for Comparative Politics and International Relations

Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt/Main

Robert Mayer Straße 5

D-60054 Frankfurt/Main



Unilateral Foreign Policy Capacities and State Preferences on CFSP

Rationalism´s Contribution to Explaining

German, French and British Policies Towards CFSP

Paper prepared for presentation at the ECPR Summer School on

‘EU External Capability and Influence in World Affairs’

at the Graduate Institute of European Studies of the University of Geneva,

August 28- September 9, 2000

I. Introduction1

A transfer of foreign policy-making competences from the member states to the European Union would signify a large step towards a European federation. This may explain why even small steps towards a common European foreign policy have received broad public and scholarly attention. The extent to which foreign policy-making competences are transferred to the level of the European Union, the involvement of the Commission and the European Parliament (EP) as well as decision-making procedures and financing arrangements have all been negotiated by the member states. Whereas the supranational actors play an important role in Community politics the member states remain the single most important actors in constitutional questions: At the intergovernmental conferences the Commission does not have the exclusive right of initiative it enjoys in Community politics. The agenda is thus open to member states’ initiatives. For treaty reforms to come into force, every member state has to ratify the agreement according to its constitutional procedures. The European Parliament’s assent is not required. Any change of the European Union's constitution including the provisions on foreign policy making thus requires the consent of all member states. It is therefore surprising that only little scholarly work has so far been dedicated to analyzing member states' policies towards European Political Cooperation (EPC) and Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) respectively (cf., however, the two volumes edited by Christopher Hill 1983 and 1996).2

This paper3 seeks to fill this lacuna by trying to contribute to an explanation for the different German, French and British policies towards the European foreign policy regime. In this paper I will apply a rationalist framework to German, French and British CFSP policies. This privileged position of a rationalist - in contrast to a constructivist or postmodern - perspective can no longer be justified solely by reference to the dominant position of rationalist theorizing in International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis. From the point of view of ‘mainstream IR’, a constructivist approach may have become an even more obvious point of departure. However, a rationalist first cut is worthwhile because rationalism is best equipped to detect general patterns of state behavior. Whereas a constructivist focus on identities, cultures or historical legacies is best equipped to make us understand the specific background of state policies, a rationalist perspective helps us to trace state behavior back to general assumptions about the basic interest of states or the functions of institutions. To the extent that one is interested in filing given cases (such as member states´ CFSP policies) into a general pattern of state behavior a rationalist first thus cut seems appropriate. It should be noted, however, that a rationalist first cut privileges a rationalist explanation but does not guarantee its success. Quite the contrary, because rationalism assumes that state behavior can be traced back to general assumptions about preference formation and the like, its hypotheses are open to falsification. If rationalism cannot account for a given puzzle a constructivist second cut seems necessary in order to find an explanation. In other words, whenever an instant of state policy cannot be explained by general assumptions about state behavior we have to ask what specific (or idiosyncratic) factor(s) may account for the behavior at stake.

The remainder of this paper proceeds as follows: Section II gives a brief outline of the puzzle to be examined, i.e. German, French and British policies towards CFSP. Section III presents a general rationalist framework designed to explain states´ foreign policy towards international institutions. This framework comprises a theory of states´ fundamental preferences, a theory of co-operation, a theory of institutions and a theory of institutional choice. Finally, a theory of rationalist foreign policy translates the previous insights into specific behavioral predictions. Section IV demonstrates that a large part of the literature on CFSP heavily draws on the rationalist theories outlined in section III. Section V presents rationalist predictions for German, French and British CFSP policies that are derived from the general rationalist framework and supported by common assumptions made in the literature on CFSP. Finally, section VI evaluatues the record of rationalism in explaining German, French und British policies towards CFSP.

II. German, French and British Policies Towards CFSP

1. The Concept of CFSP Constitutional Policy

Member states' CFSP policies comprise two dimensions, i.e. a policy within CFSP and a constitutional policy toward CFSP. It is this second, constitutional dimension that this study is concerned with. A member state's policy within CFSP comprises its behavior inside the Council of the EU where common positions and joint actions are discussed and decided upon as well as the degree of compliance with CFSP provisions. The constitutional dimension refers to a state's behavior during intergovernmental negotiations about the regime's constitution itself, i.e. about its principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures. A state's constitutional policy may be observed in particular during the negotiations on the Luxemburg report of 1970, on the Copenhagen report of 1973, on the London report of 1981, on the Stuttgart Solemn Declaration of 1983, on Title III of the Single European Act of 1986, on the provisions of a Common Foreign and Security Policy as part of the Treaty on European Union of 1992 and finally on the review of these provisions as part of the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997.

CFSP constitutional policy is particularly suited to examine a state's fundamental approach to the regime, i.e. to what extent it wants to strengthen foreign policy co-operation. Of course, a state's policy within CFSP may also point to that state's general approach. However, the indeterminacy of many common positions makes it difficult to differentiate between compliant and non-compliant behavior and thus to determine the degree of member state compliance. Moreover, there is a general bias towards observing compliant behavior because common positions are agreed upon unanimously in the first place. Finally, a state's behavior in Council negotiations is difficult to examine due to the secrecy of the meetings. Taken together, an examination of a member state's constitutional CFSP policy is the best indicator for that state's general approach to CFSP.

2. Common Ground, Different Policies and Package Deals

In analyzing member states´ CFSP policies one can emphasize enduring differences as well as common change. From a bird´s-eye view, the policies of all member states have changed in similar ways over the last thirty years since all member states have endorsed the same institutional innovations. Though the regime´s various constitutional documents from the Luxemburg report to the Amsterdam Treaty may reflect compromises and package deals, it is hard to deny change in member states´ policies at all. As will be shown in the next section, however, characteristic differences between member state policies have persisted during the entire period. It is important to note that member states´ policies comprise features of both continuity and change. Though I will focus on the differences between German, French and British policies, it should be kept in mind that these differences exist on a common background of CFSP´s evolution.

3. German, French and British CFSP Policies

3.1. Germany´s CFSP Policy

At the 1969 summit in The Hague the German government welcomed the French proposal of closer foreign policy coordination among the members of the European Community. When the regime was established a year later, the Chancellor Brandt also agreed to its intergovernmental structure (cf. Müller-Roschach 1980: 220).4 In 1972, the German government repeatedly suggested the establishment of a small but permanent secretariat (Müller-Roschach 1980: 274f.; Simonian 1985:125f.; Ifestos 87: 156f.). Because France insisted on having the secretariat seated in Paris no agreement was reached among the member states.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Germany for the first time took the initiative for advancing further political integration (cf. Tsakaloyannis 1996:56). Together with Italy, the German government presented a Draft European Act which referred to a European Union as the aim of the integration process. According to the draft, the European Council would take over a leadership role for both the Community and EPC. In order to further develop EPC, consultations would be intensified and the European Parliament's resolutions would be taken into account more carefully.5 Furthermore, member states should take every possibility to facilitate decision-making and thus to reach common positions faster. The Commission should be closely associated to the working of EPC. The European Council would be supported "by an 'expandable secretariat', whose function, according to Bonn, would have been to form a common security assessment, that is something akin to the National Security Council in the US" (Tsakaloyannis 1996:57-58). In the following negotiations, however, Genscher’s proposal was watered down (cf. Nevill-Jones 1983). Finally, the European Council in Stuttgart in 1983 adopted a Solemn Declaration instead of an Act as intended by Germany. Genscher's proposal to establish a permanent secretariat for EPC was not (yet) picked up. On EPC, the Solemn Declaration only mentioned its "necessary reinforcement"6.

To the surprise of the other member states Germany and France jointly presented a 'Draft Treaty on European Union' at the Milan European Council in June 1985.7 The text comprised eleven articles all dedicated to the development of a common European foreign policy. The text emphasized the importance of the European Parliament's participation in EPC and suggested a further development of the respective procedures. With regard to decision-making in the Council unanimity was assumed (Corbett 1987: 252). Article 10 mentioned a secretariat supporting the presidency. Together with a British Text, the Franco-German draft treaty served as a baseline for the negotiations among the foreign ministers. Due to the rather limited reforms proposed in the two texts, the delegations had little difficulties finding a consensus (de Ruyt 1987: 77). Only the decision on whether to incorporate the provisions on EPC into a single Act, as favored by Germany, was left to the final European Council in Luxembourg. There, the concept of a single Act emphasizing the close relationship between EPC and the Community won the day. The establishment of a permanent secretariat seated in Brussels was the Act's most important institutional innovation. However, the "German proposal to appoint a political personality as head of the secretariat was not picked up by the majority of the member states” (Rummel 1996: 50).

In 1990, it was again a joint French/German initiative that brought EPC on the agenda of intergovernmental negotiations. In a joint letter to the president of the Council Kohl and Mitterrand proposed to "initiate preparations for an intergovernmental conference on political union" with the particular objective to "define and implement a common foreign and security policy" (quoted from Laursen/Vanhoonacker 1992: 276). The joint letter itself was initiated by the German chancellor (Tsakaloyannis 1996: 86). In December 1990 a second joint letter further elaborated the Franco-German position: As regards decision-making, "decisions would in principle be adopted unanimously, with the understanding that abstaining should not hinder the adoption of decisions." Furthermore, "when the Council would have to adopt concrete measures required by a given specific situation, it might be decided that the implementing arrangements for these measures may be adopted through majority decisions" (quoted from Laursen/Vanhoonacker 1992: 314). The fact that the European Parliament was not given much of a role in the Mitterrand-Kohl letter was perceived as a concession by the German side (Hill 1996: 50).

The question of whether the foreign policy regime should remain outside the Rome Treaty or should be transferred to the Community became one of the most controversial issues during the negotiations. The German delegation sided with those who criticized the Luxembourg Non-Paper of April 1991 for keeping CFSP separate from the Treaty establishing the EC. However, when only a few months later the Dutch presidency presented a single treaty that also comprised a title on CFSP it was only Belgium that supported this proposal (cf. Corbett 1993).

The extension of qualified majority voting (QMV) within CFSP became a German priority during the 1996/97 negotiations on CFSP. Though the German government itself was prepared to adopt qualified majority voting as a general rule,8 emphasis was put on reaching a common position with France. Eventually, the Franco-German guidelines on CFSP adopted in Freiburg in February 1996 enumerated several possibilities to ease decision-making including constructive abstention9 which was adopted by the conference.

The German government agreed with the other member states that a body for analysis, forecasting and planning would enhance the Union's capability to actively pursue foreign policy and thus generally supported the respective proposals. According to Bonn, the unit should be controlled by the Secretary-General of the Council which in turn would be accountable to the member states.10 The German government was reluctant to support the establishment of a ‘Mr./Ms. CFSP’ as envisioned by France. When searching for a high representative to be appointed after the ratification of the Amsterdam treaty, foreign minister Kinkel preferred a person with a rather low profile (cf. DIE ZEIT of November, 12th 1998).

The pledge for a communitarization of CFSP was hardly pushed by the German government. Nor did the German delegation insist on an enhanced role of the Commission though its opposition to a Mr. CFSP has been interpreted as an endeavor to defend the Commission’s present role (cf. Stark 1998: 146).11 The negotiations about the financing of joint actions revealed a positive German attitude towards a closer involvement of the European Parliament. At the 1996/97 negotiations Germany pushed to include operational expenditures in the Community budget and to treat them as non-obligatory expenditures.12 While the inclusion of CFSP expenditures in the Community budget mainly symbolized CFSP’s affiliation to the Community, their treatment as non-obligatory would have given the European Parliament the last word in determining their amount.

3.2. France´s CFSP Policy

It was France that took the initiative both to call for a conference of the heads of state or government and to suggest intergovernmental co-operation on foreign policy (Le Serre/Moreau Defarges 1983: 56; Dinan 194: 74; Ifestos 1987: 149). France opposed any involvement of the supranational institutions and only granted the Commission the right to participate on the invitation of the member states (cf. Nutall 1992: 48). France suggested the establishment of an intergovernmental secretariat in Paris which was opposed by the other member states (cf. Gerbet 1993: 153). For the rest of his term Pompidou did not take another initiative to change EPC.

The Presidency of Valerie Giscard d´Estaing (1974-1981) brought about two institutional innovations which also impinged on EPC. During the 1974 French Presidency Giscard suggested direct elections to the European Parliament and the establishment of the European Council as a steering organ of the heads of state or government (Woyke 1987: 93). In the following years, Giscard indeed used European Council meeting to propose common foreign policies. At the same time, however, Giscard´s interest in EPC is said to have been limited (cf. De la Serre 1996: 23; Nuttall 192: 151; Guyomarch et al. 1998: 116).

At the beginning of his term as President, Mittarrand´s European policy was clearly focused on economic and social issues.13 At the same time, the French government (with ex-Commissioner Claude Cheysson as foreign minister) accepted closer involvement of the Commission in EPC which became codified in the London report. At the beginning of Mitterrand´s Presidency, however, the modest reforms of the London report were ”the most to which France was prepared to consent" (de La Serre 1996: 22). The proposals of Genscher and Colombo did not receive any support from Paris.

In a speech at the European Parliament in 1984, Mitterrand suggested a new intergovernmental conference to negotiate further co-operation (cf. Tsakaloyannis 1996: 62; Nuttall 1992: 240ff.). With respect to EPC Mitterrand suggested a permanent secretariat. As mentioned above, a Franco-German draft treaty was presented to the Milan European Council in 1985. Though the contents were primarily attributed to the French, Mitterrand distanced himself from the text after the other capitals had reacted rather reservedly (Tsakaloyannis 1996: 69f.; Remmert 1994: 49f.).

During the 1990/91 negotiations, CFSP was a top priority for France (cf. Martial 1992: 122; Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet/Moreau 1998: 164; Mazzucelli 1997: 137). Though France paid particular attention to security and defense, its position on foreign policy co-operation also changed significantly: Most importantly, France accepted the introduction of Qualified Majority Voting in CFSP, especially for implementing measures (Schild 1992: 87). At the same time, however, France continued to emphasize the distance of CFSP from the Community. Thus, the French delegation opposed proposals to integrate EPC into the Community framework and supported the pillared structure of the TEU (Schild 1992: 86). France also opposed further involvement of the European Parliament and the Commission. However, France supported to grant the Commission a (non-exclusive) right to initiative.

In February 1996, Le Figaro published a government ‘memorandum on the French guidelines for the IGC 1996'. In this document, the French government first launched its idea to replace the Presidency by a High Representative who would be appointed for a term of several years and who would be supported by a strengthened Council secretariat. Several months later the French delegation officially submitted a more detailed proposal (CONF/3863/96). The proposal made clear that the High Representative would have little autonomy from the European Council that would define his tasks and could dismiss him any time. With a view to the financing of CFSP, the text suggested that CFSP expenditure be obligatory and thus kept away from the European Parliament´s budgetary competences.

3.3. Great Britain´s CFSP Policy

Even before becoming a full member of the EC in 1973, Great Britain was closely asscociated with EPC. In 1980, after the then EC-9 had failed to react quickly to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the British government presented an initiative suggesting a procedure for emergency consultation, the establishment of a small secretariat and a more overt political commitment to EPC from the member states (Ifestos 1987: 284). Except for the secretariat, these proposal became part of the London report.

Foreign policy co-operation was also a crucial point in the government paper “Europe - The Future”14 that was presented to the Fontainebleau European Council in 1984. A “common approach to external affairs” and “a coherent and persuasive West European voice” are mentioned as major goals. Furthermore, Europe should play “no less central a role” than the US. Moreover, the document states that

“Cooperation should not just be a matter of making declarations in the face of increasingly complex challenges. The Ten have the weight and must show more political will to act together: concentrate their efforts where their leverage is greatest and their interests most directly touched e.g. in the Middle East and Africa; [...] The objective should be the progressive attainment of a common external policy.”15

Only a year later, foreign minister Howe presented another paper that “had the form, although not the title, of a Treaty” (Nutall 1986: 205). That so-called Stresa paper16 assumed unanimous decision-making. The European Parliament should merely be consulted. In one respect, the British proposal even tried to reverse current practice: the Commission should only be invited to participate if the member states do not decide otherwise. A small secretariat should be set up to support the Presidency.

During the negotiations on the Maastricht Treaty the British government is said to have tried "to reduce the debate on CFSP to a discussion on limited adaptations to European Political Cooperation” (Wester 1992:197; cf. also Regelsberger 1993: 188). Britain was particularly "opposed to bringing EPC within the supranational Community framework” (Wester 1992: 198; cf. also Forster 1999: 110). The British delegation fiercely opposed any introduction of QMV into the foreign policy regime including for implementing measures (cf. Forster 1999: 110f.). However, Britain suggested to fuse the foreign ministers´ meetings in the framework of EPC with their regular sessions as the EC Council and to integrate the EPC secretariat into the secretariat of the Council.

The British government presented its position on the intergovernmental conference of 1996/97 in a White Paper titled ‘A Partnership of Nations’.17 On CFSP, the British government hardly compromised their initial positions during the negotiations, even after the new Labour government had taken office (Dembinski 1997: 43). As was made clear in the White Paper, Britain aimed at keeping CFSP intergovernmental. Unanimity was not regarded as hindering progress. The Political Committee consisting of the foreign ministries´ political directors was regarded as “the single most important element in the CFSP machinery”. Great Britain suggested to increase the frequency of its meetings in order to intensify common analysis. Moreover the Political Committee should be entrusted with supervising the implementation of joint actions and the spending of Community funds. In order to cope with the growing workload the secretariat should be strengthened. The secretariat should assist the formulation of policy. For this task a new planning unit within the secretariat could be established consisting of five or six additional delegates from member states foreign ministries. With a view to a High Representative Great Britain emphasizes his accountability to the Council. On the basis of unanimous agreement he could represent common policies to the public, conduct the political dialogue with third countries and supervise implementation. Though he would not be granted any formal right of initiative he could make suggestions to the Council.

3.4. Summary

During the entire period of foreign policy co-operation, Germany has advocated a strengthening of the regime. Germany never opposed proposals to strengthen the regime and has usually presented more far-reaching proposals than France and Great Britain. During the early stages of EPC, Germany particularly pushed for a permanent secretariat. In the 1990s, the introduction and extension of Qualified Majority Voting became a focus of German CFSP policy.

After having been midwife to EPC in the first place France took on a rather restrictive stance during various negotiations. In particular, French policy aimed at keeping the regime strictly intergovernmental. During the 1970s and 1980s French positions on the Commission´s involvement and the establishment of a permanent secretariat marked the lowest common denominator. In the 1990s, however, the strengthening of CFSP received new priority. Most importantly, France accepted the introduction of Qualified Majority Voting. Moreover, France proposed a strengthening of the intergovernmental structure of CFSP by advocating a High Representative and a Unit for Planning and Analysis.

Until the mid-eighties, Britain supported (and initiated) a strengthening of foreign policy co-operation. The negotiations on the Single European Act, however, mark a turning point: Though Britain favored the establishment of a permanent secretariat its proposals were more modest than those of France and particularly Germany. Since the 1990s Britain has been the most restrictive of the three member states under consideration, essentially opposing every move towards Qualified Majority Voting and a closer relationship to the Community. However, like France, Britain proposed a strengthening of the intergovernmental structure with a particular emphasis on the Political Committe and the Council Secretariat.

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