Δημοσιεύθηκε στο Diplomat Magazine της Χάγης τον Νοέμβριο του 2017
"The Hague has undeniably earned over time the title of "the capital of peace and justice" by becoming the hub of a number of important International Organisations such as the Nobel Peace prize winner Organisation for the prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and a number of Courts pertaining to specific country situations. It has also become the seat of a number of Regional organisations such as EUROPOL, EUROJUST, a.o. Therefore, one cannot be surprised by the big number of diplomatic missions residing there or being accredited in parallel from neighbouring countries, a clear manifestation of diplomatic importance in tandem with the political and economic importance of the host country, the Netherlands.
The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, has introduced a novelty aiming at ensuring the continuity and coherence of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). In this light, the European External Action Service (EEAS) has been created along the model of a classical Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by the High Representative/Vice President of the European Commission to serve the goals of the CFSP/CSDP and to enhance their visibility and effectiveness. Former Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini is the HRVP since 2014.
The EEAS is currently composed by 139 EU Delegations including those that are accredited to International Organisations and Agencies. For reasons pertaining to the organisational and budgetary circumstances prevailing at the time of the creation of the EEAS, no EU Delegation has been created in The Hague to represent the EU to the resident International Organisations. However, as important diplomatic and other international developments unfolded there, the need for an enhanced EU presence has become more than apparent. Relevant action to face this lacuna had been repeatedly voiced by EU Member States that missed the support of the EEAS as in other capitals around the world, the Secretariats and Administration of the International Organisations (especially those to which the EU is making significant voluntary contributions), by non-EU states that requested more interaction and last but not least by Academia and think-tanks. An example in point are the two publications by the esteemed Clingendael Institute, the second one bearing the creative title: "The cavalry has arrived".
At some point and responding to the requirements of the OPCW due to the Syrian crisis, the EEAS hierarchy has decided in 2013 to start deploying an EU official (the undersigned) on a regular basis and by decision of HRVP Mogherini since 2015 on a permanent basis to follow and report on developments, to interact with the OPCW, EU and non-EU stakeholders and to prepare the basis for the opening of an appropriate permanent delegation whenever the budgetary and other circumstances will allow it. The level of ambition is to incrementally extend the cooperation to the Courts which the EU is generously supporting. The results of the enhanced presence have been very encouraging from the beginning. The level of cooperation with all stakeholders has reached new standards, in particular with OPCW during the critical period of the Syrian chemical weapons removal and destruction and beyond.
The visibility of the EU relevant policies and action has become more tangible to non-EU diplomatic missions and the flow of information has been significantly reinforced. The EU Representative now participates in the rich programme of all mainstream diplomatic or state activities. The endeavour has been generously supported by the Dutch Authorities, including the Gemeenten and in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which merits a loud expression of appreciation. The endeavour has the backing of the HRVP, who did not miss any opportunity to participate in important events in The Hague and to promote the visibility and supportive role of the EU.
The work of the EU Representative to the OPCW is definitely complicated considering that the size of the task is simply enormous, especially in recent months where some interaction has started with other international or regional entities. Several positive steps can be recorded such as the fact that the EU Representative now has an office, collocated with the European Commission and the European Parliament in the famous Huis van Europa situated in Korte Vijverberg 6, near the Binnenhof. The EU Representative has also been granted Privileges and Immunities according to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Diplomatic accreditation with the organisations will be pursued. Of course the ultimate goal is the opening of a full-fledged EU Delegation whenever the circumstances will allow it. Only then the EU MS states, the International Organisations, the diplomatic community in The Hague and the EEAS itself will be able to take full advantage of the EU potential and interaction to the benefit of international peace, security and cooperation."
Δημοσιεύθηκε στο Diplomat Magazine της Χάγης τον Νοέμβριο του 2017.
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