“Europe has strength it often fails to realize. It is, I remind you, the world’s leading economic power. I shall ensure that it is more active and above all vigilant when it comes to respecting trade rules, the reciprocity of trade and opening up public procurement everywhere. […] We Europeans must also strengthen our positions on the major international issues and avoid any lack of coordination or quest for purely national interests.”
François Hollande, President of the French Republic, 27 August 2012
The European Union is closely involved in the United Nations:
Firstly, in financial terms, the European Union contributes, through its Member States, some 40% of the UN budget (while its contribution to global GDP amounts to 30%). The EU contributes 44% of the resources of the UNDP and 80% of the resources of the Peacebuilding Fund.
The EU is also strongly involved in the United Nations in terms of crisis management through the launch of several EU civilian and military operations, under the mandate of the Security Council. France, as a permanent member of the Security Council and a founding member of the EU, has always supported this synergy between the EU and the United Nations.
As a result, several European Union missions are deployed in coordination with UN missions. In Afghanistan, the EUPOL police reform operation works with the United Nations Assistance Mission in that country. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the EUSEC RDC and EUPOL RDC missions to reform the security and police sectors also complement MONUC’s work. In Guinea Bissau, the mission in support of security sector reform works in cooperation with the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office. Following the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, the European Union mobilized resources amounting to more than €1.5 billion, making it the leading donor; it works in close coordination with MINUSTAH on the ground.
The European Union mobilized its efforts through operation Atalanta in order to combat piracy off the Somali coast. World Food Program vessels benefit from the protection of the EU, as do the vessels delivering the United Nations logistical support package to AMISOM. In Somalia, the EU is also involved in training soldiers of the Somali Transitional Federal Government, in coordination with AMISOM.
- The European Union’s attachment to the United Nations was reaffirmed by the Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty on European Union (TEU) makes reference to the United Nations and this was reinforced by the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009. Thus:
“The European Union’s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.
The Union shall seek to develop relations and build partnerships with third countries, and international, regional or global organizations which share the principles referred to in the first subparagraph. It shall promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations.” (Article 21-1 of the TEU amended by the Treaty of Lisbon)
“The Union shall define and pursue common policies and actions, and shall work for a high degree of cooperation in all fields of international relations, in order to (…) preserve peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.” (Art. 21-2)
- Consequences of the Treaty of Lisbon on the representation of the EU at the UN
The Treaty of Lisbon modifies the external representation of the European Union by creating two new posts: the President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The High Representative “shall express the Union’s position in international organizations and at international conferences.” (Article 27-2 of the TEU as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon).
Meeting between the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – 31 March 2010 in New York (UN Photo/Evan Schneider)
Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union replaced the European Community as an observer at the United Nations General Assembly.
In New York, the European Union Delegation replaced the European Commission Delegation and the Liaison Office of the Council of the European Union.
The President of the European Council, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the President of the Commission, and the Head of the European Union Delegation and his colleagues are now responsible for representing the European Union in the various United Nations bodies. Before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Member State holding the presidency of the EU or the Commission, for issues within its field of competence, spoke on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
Due to its observer status, the European Community and its successor the EU did not enjoy the same privileges as the Member States (such as the right to intervene in debates in a timely manner – in the same way as representatives of other regional groups -, the right of reply, the right to circulate official documents, the right of amendment, etc.).
The EU therefore introduced a draft resolution on the "participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations". The resolution was adopted on 3 May 2011 with a majority of 180 in favour, zero against, and two abstentions (Syria and Zimbabwe).
Key elements of the GA resolution on the "participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations", adopted on 3rd May 2011:
— EU representatives are allowed to be inscribed on the list of speakers among representatives of major groups;
— the UE can participate in the general debate of the General Assembly, in accordance with the order of precedence as established in the practice for participating observers and the level of representation;
— It can have its communications circulated directly;
— It can present proposals and amendments orally;
— It can exercise the right of reply (only one intervention per item).
EU representatives shall be ensured seating among the observers. They do not have the right to vote, nor to co-sponsor resolutions or decisions, nor to put forward candidates.
Adoption of the resolution on the "participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations" - General Assembly - 3 May 2011 - Credits : France Onu/Juliette Charvet
Article 34 of the TEU specifies that the Member States of the EU shall coordinate their action in international organizations. In particular, the members of the Security Council (France, and the UK as permanent members, and currently Germany and Portugal as elected members) are required to keep the partners informed of the Security Council’s activities.
Article 34 of the TEU as modified by the Treaty of Lisbon (ex Article 19 of the TEU)
1. Member States shall coordinate their action in international organizations and at international conferences. They shall uphold the Union’s positions in these forums. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall organize this coordination. In international organizations and at international conferences where not all the Member States participate, those which do take part shall uphold the Union’s positions.
2. In accordance with Article 24, paragraph 3, Member States represented in international organizations or international conferences where not all the Member States participate shall keep the other Member States and the High Representative informed of any matter of common interest. Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council will concert and keep the other Member States and the High Representative fully informed. Member States which are members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.
When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the High Representative be invited to present the Union’s position.
Coordination of the Member States of the EU is conducted in various ways within the United Nations:
— the Heads of Mission meet every week under the chairmanship of the EU Head of Delegation to exchange views, harmonize positions and allow the European members of the Security Council to report on the activities of this organ (these meetings were chaired, until June 2010, by the country holding the presidency of the EU);
— weekly meetings known as “Article 34 meetings” bring together the political coordinators from the 27 Member States. During these meetings the European members of the Security Council inform the partners about the Council’s activities;
— numerous meetings to facilitate coordination between experts are convened, as required, to discuss General Assembly and ECOSOC draft resolutions. The representative of the European Union then defends the positions of the EU on behalf of the 27 Member States during the negotiations meetings at the UN.
13 February 2013 - Security Council - Cooperation between the United Nations and the EU – Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
8 February 2011 - Security Council - Cooperation between the UN and the EU - Statement by Mr. Gerard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
4 May 2010 - Security Council - Cooperation between the United Nations and European Union : Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Visit the website of the European Union at the United Nations
Visit the website of the Polish Presidency of the European Union
Visit the website of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union
Visit the website of the French Presidency of the European Union