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EU Flexes Its Overseas Muscles

  • April 15th, 2007
  • Posted by Jessica McKendry

eu-flag-reduced-larger.pngA high level meeting this week (13.4.07) between the European Union and the United Nations has signalled a growing role for the EU, as a single force, in international relations.

In this report from Brussels, Jessica McKendry says the list of common European undertakings ranges from peace-keeping operations, to world trade talks, and aid for developing countries.

The European Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, travelled to New York for talks with Ban ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations.

It happens from time to time, but always, the list of topics gets longer.

The member states of the European Union made a treaty in 1993 – (the Maastricht Treaty) – which committed them to more joint action on the international stage.

More and more, they now act as one, instead of as 27 separate countries.

Christiane Hohmann, the European Commission spokesperson for External Relations, says that time and again, working together will deliver more results.

“I think it does give the EU more clout and respect because it is very visible. You see activities all over the world; it’s part of our assistance programs, it’s part of our election monitoring, we are active in defence policies, we have police missions.

“We can state that with regard to the UN there is discussion about the future status of Kosovo or we have a fairly complicated situation on our hands in Afghanistan, and in Iraq,” she says.

In recent months Europe has come out with a priority policy on global warming, pledging drastic cuts in its own level of carbon dioxide pollution, and saying it will do even more if other countries will join it.

“We have a range of very crucial issues; the commission’s been very active with climate change and the Kyoto protocol. There is also a link between climate change and energy security….You have the European Union and the commission and the member states around the world at the forefront,” she says.

The European Union says that its many undertakings overlap with what the United Nations is doing, and that the two organisations even need each other more than ever.