Parliamentary question by Olivier Dupuis (ARE) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Van den Broek on behalf of the Commission
WRITTEN QUESTION P-3918/97
by Olivier Dupuis (ARE) to the Commission
(28 November 1997)
Subject: Common European diplomacy
In the Spencer report (A4-0193/97) the European Parliament highlighted "the need to set up an analysis unit, staffed by Community and national officials, to assess risks and threats from a European perspective and bring national diplomatic corps and intelligence services into line with the new aspirations of the CFSP, inter alia by making it possible for Member States to use, in third countries where they have no diplomatic mission, the delegations of the Commission for the purpose of representation of their interests in addition to those of the Union".
Moreover, in connection with the transfer of the capital of Nigeria, a proposal was made to group together all the embassies of the Member States and the Commission delegation in a single building.
Has the Commission begun its study, and what stage has it reached? In view, moreover, of the forthcoming accession of new Member States, does the Commission not think that, for the sake of the cohesion and visibility of Union, it is now becoming essential to combine the representations? Has the Commission made proposals to the Council to this end? What progress has been made with the proposal to group together the embassies and the Commission delegation in Nigeria's new capital?
Answer given by Mr Van den Broek
on behalf of the Commission
(19 December 1997)
The foreign affairs ministries of the Member States, barring Luxembourg and the United Kingdom, and the Commission agreed in a memorandum of understanding of 18 April 1994 to establish their diplomatic missions and the Commission delegation in a common building complex in Abuja, the new capital of Nigeria. Austria, Finland and Sweden acceded to that memorandum on 6 March 1996. The project is in the process of being finalised. The participating partners, currently nine Member States plus the Commission, are set to conclude an additional memorandum in the next few months on the distribution of the financing costs and the respective rights to the premises once the project has been completed. The firm of architects and engineers which won the international competition for the building project has been asked to draw up an invitation to tender dossier for the building work.
Provisions for extending the project to new partners were set out in the building project for the allocation of the areas for exclusive use, and arrangements were made for sharing the costs of using common and public areas.
The Commission shares the Honourable Member's opinion that this project, even if limited to a few Member States, is a practical example of the translation into practice of the common position on grouping together diplomatic missions as defined by the Council on 6 October 1995. The various stages of this project are being carried out in conjunction with the Member States in the Council's CFSP working group, administrative affairs.
As for the need to combine the Community delegations as suggested by the Honourable Member, the Commission would like to stress that the Abuja project comes under the provisions of the second pillar of the Treaty on European Union. This does not mean that such grouping together of diplomatic missions - already the subject of a general memorandum of understanding of 21 February 1996 to which the new Member States have acceded - cannot in future be extended to cooperation between the partners in other suitable fields.
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