by Co-Host, Richard Peterson (our long time time "Rich of Medford")
After reading some of the blog
comments ridiculing the research time spent on Javier Solana, I felt compelled
Javier Solana is a high profile European
diplomat. Solana’s curriculum vitae is extensive. Some of the more notable
positions of which he was incumbent include Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs
1992 – 1995; NATO Secretary General 1995 – 1999; Secretary General of the Council of the
European Union and EU High Representative from 1999 – 2009; Secretary General
of the Western European Union 1999 – 2009.
Javier Solana’s tenure as Secretary
General of the Western European Union (WEU) is one which garnered the attention
of several global governance researchers (myself included). In her book The
Western European Union, Sally Rohan opens with the question what was the role
of this short lived institution? The answer is this ten-nation military
alliance served to develop the European Union’s military architecture which was
purposefully kept at a polite distance from the integration process. The
Council of Europe was tasked with the integration process.
Javier Solana is the chief
architect of the European Security and Defence Policy, an apparatus which later
was transferred into the European Union which now is known as the Common
Security and Defense Policy. The Lisbon Treaty references this architecture as
it remains in place to this day.
An aspect of the WEU framework
which was adopted by the Council of Ministers is the transfer of power
mechanism – Recommendation 666 – whereby emergency powers are given to the High
Representative in the event of a crisis. The position of High Representative, created
under Section 666 of the Europa code, was to be filled by an individual having
a strong political profile and backed by credible operational capabilities so
that a cohesive EU strategy would be applied foremost to Russia, and secondarily
the Ukraine and Mediterranean regions.
All of the above is ample
rationale for the continued observation of both the position of High
Representative as well as the chief architect of the EU’s military apparatus.
The current appointee to the High
Representative position is Josep Borrell.
It has been reported that Josep
Borrell regularly consults with Solana on matters of foreign policy. Whether or
not this is the case, their messages appear to be harmonized. Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
both men had voiced the solution needed to be derived from European diplomacy. This
did not happen as the United States sidelined EU diplomacy citing its weak
foreign policy. Both Solana and Borrell since have advocated for China to
become the conflict’s mediator. Solana has long called for China to assume a
in global governance.
What’s disturbing is China’s assessment
and proposed solution to the current crisis:
it is the US-led NATO which is problematic and that Europe needs to
complete its security architecture by achieving strategic autonomy. China calls for Europe sideline the United
States and incorporate Russia into European security architecture which is what
French President Macron had envisioned would be a counter-balance to US hegemony.
Both Borrell and Solana are
working to achieve European strategic autonomy. While Solana says he does not
envision Europe separating from the NATO security arrangements, he has articulated
a vision of European control of NATO assets.
Solana’s work in formulating EU
foreign and militarization policies has not diminished with his return to the
private sector. He remains one of the movers and shakers of the EU’s Permanent
Structured Cooperation (PESCO) programme. Solana’s defense policy paper
mentions the EU Parliament’s authority over the military architecture. There is
none. The Parliament’s voice is consultative only. The paper paves ways coalitions
of member states who wish to engage in military action would be able to work
around the unanimity rule, i.e., through the instrument provided in the Lisbon
Treaty called Enhanced Cooperation.
The Enhanced Cooperation
instrument was explored several years back with the proposal that Core Defense
Groups be formed so that military action would not be subject to objecting
states’ vetoes. The 1999 Amsterdam Council had expressed concerns that Enhanced
Cooperation could be used as a means to circumvent the Council of Ministers and
warned that it should never be used in defense policy as that would be
Solana presently chairs an initiative
– Envisioning a New Governance Architecture for a Global Europe – which is a
consortium of legal experts brought together to explore the EU treaties and to form
a legal basis to overcome the “bipolarity” of EU external actions. In other words, while they pay lip service to
unanimity, the intent is to find avenues to circumvent it.
On March 22, Solana addressed the conference
hosted by the European Parliament Office in Barcelona entitled “2022 The Year
of European Defense” where he called for the further development of the EU’s
military capabilities. Soon thereafter, some Members of European Parliament (MEPs)
warned of the dangers associated with the EU’s current militarization trajectory.
Demirel said “the speed with which all this has now happened clearly shows
that nothing has been thought up and decided upon on an ad hoc basis. We are
talking about arming programmes that have been ready to go for a long time and
which the EU is now taking advantage of the situation for.”
Neumann’s assessment that the EU
Parliament is shut out of defense decisions reflects an understanding of the Parliament’s
powerlessness over military matters.
Notwithstanding Solana’s calls for
China to assume more of a leading role in global governance, some of his
statements on the Ukraine conflict sound perfectly rational: that the West is now experiencing
the consequences for the false promise of Ukraine’s entry into NATO; that the
world cannot afford a third world war with nuclear weapons; and that the Ukraine
conflict can end only with a diplomatic agreement.
Solana acknowledges that at the
present time he is not in a position to negotiate the diplomatic solution. Perhaps
he is to remain in the private sector and only effect change without the
backing of credible capabilities.
Nevertheless, the current High Representative position carries the weight
of the architecture Solana designed should the Council or a Core Defense Group activate
one particular instrument from their toolkit.
Before the Russian invasion, one
article I found of interest is this piece published by the Kyiv
Here the writer expresses the
opinion that the EU hasn’t employed diplomats since Barroso and Solana who are competent enough to handle Ukraine
policy. He then calls for “a strong and serious commissioner…to be
given overall responsibility for Ukraine, as Solana and Füle had.” The writer’s perception is that Josep Borrell
lacks the strength to stand up to Russia.
There are voices within the
European Union who have said the EU would lead the system of global governance.
In its Global Governance 2025 report, the US Office of the Director of National
Intelligence in conjunction with the EU
Institute of Security Studies lays out the case that its best hope for global
governance is a European launch.
Solana’s past role in global governance has
been far from insignificant. Whatever his future role turns out to be, I expect
it not to be minuscule.