Tiilikainen clarifies views on implications of EU security guarantees
Teija Tiilikainen, State Secretary at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, feels that Members of Parliament put an excessively literal interpretation her previous statement, suggesting that member states of the European Union should be unanimous in any decision on the implementation of EU security guarantees.
Tiilikainen's statement was taken to mean that a single member state would be able to prevent the supply of aid to an EU country that came under attack.
"This was not the intended message", Tiilikainen said on Thursday.
She said that there is no such right to veto included in the obligation to provide aid contained in the Treaty of Lisbon, and that one member state would not be able to block aid to a country in need.
Tiilikainen appeared in front of the parliament's Foreign Affairs committee on Thursday. She said that the discussions, which lasted for more than an hour, were good.
"I emphasised that it was not my intention to claim that the EU would decide unanimously on whether or not we would have the right to provide aid. We have the right to give aid", Tiilikainen said. She added that the right to give and receive aid is included in the 51st article of the United Nations Charter.
The notion of unanimous decision-making by the EU countries was contained in a report on security guarantees drafted by Tiilikainen. She admitted on Thursday that the term "unanimous" is problematic. It would be better to say that "the EU countries together" will note if there is a threat that would require all member states to go to the aid of a country in need of help.
Some uncertainty apparently remained, as the committee decided to ask for comments from legal experts on the matter.
Committee chairman Pertti Salolainen (Nat. Coalition Party) said that the committee is still trying to ascertain if the obligation to provide mutual aid can somehow be blocked. "There is no clear answer", Salolainen said.
The Foreign Affairs Committee has more than a month to get more information. The committee is expected to draw up a statement by early June so that Parliament might vote on ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon before the summer holidays.
The confusion about how to interpret the EU security guarantees stems from the fact that the Treaty of Lisbon does not specify how the obligation to provide aid should be implemented. Decision mechanism have not been defined, because the idea of an attack on a member state is not among the present scenarios in the EU, Tiilikainen said.
She assumes that discussions on details would be held in the future, and that the EU countries need to be able to decide together if a threat exists in which the security guarantees should be implemented. Each EU country would decide on a national level how the aid is to be provided.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Tiilikainen´s views on EU security guarantees cause confusion in Parliament (17.4.2008)
Continued uncertainty on implementation of EU security guarantees (11.4.2008)