European External Action Service Debate

During a debate on the establishment of the European External Action Service - a commitment of the Lisbon Treaty, Neil Parish raises his concerns about how the UK can tell the world of its position on a particular issue when the UK position conflicts with that of the rest of the European Union.Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Iraq war, would it not have been an interesting situation if the High Representative had been in place and had been trying to represent the whole of the European Union at that time, because different countries were taking very different positions? I would like the Minister to spell something out. When the High Representative is going around the world putting a particular slant on a European policy that we oppose completely, how are we going to make sure that we can tell the world, and a particular country, that we have a position different from that of the European Union?Mr Lidington: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question, because he brings me to the next passage in my speech. The important point is that the EEAS will have two key functions, the first of which is to speak on behalf of a common position on foreign policy agreed unanimously by the Council and embodied in a mandate given by the Council to the High Representative. So in the case of Iraq, or any comparable foreign policy issue where member states were divided, that unanimity-and hence that mandate-would not exist. Therefore, the High Representative and the EEAS would not be entitled either to speak or to act in the way that my hon. Friend fears.| Hansard