You are on page 1of 4

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 001868

SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 04/29/2014


TAGS PREL, PGOV, PINR, PBTS, EUN, USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: DINING WITH CHRIS: RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM RELEX
COMMISSIONER PATTEN

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Kyle Scott. Reason:


1.4 (B )(D)

¶1. (C) Summary: Over rubbery fish at an Adenauer Stiftung affair


on April 27, External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten touched
briefly on why the EU will never be a “real power,” the dubious
backgrounds of some of the leaders of the EU’s new members, next
steps on Cyprus/Turkey, the differences between a union and an
alliance, and Russian President Putin’s “killer’s eyes.” His
formal remarks focused on the future of the European Commission,
where he offered ten recommendations to the next commission. End
Summary.

On What It Means to Be a “Real Power”


-------------------------------------

¶2. (C) To be a real power, Patten said, a country must be ready


and able to adopt and implement a policy, even if the rest of the
world considers it unwise. Europeans may agree or disagree with US
policy, but they admire that the US is ready to carry out the
policies it thinks best, no matter what the rest of the world
thinks. Under this yardstick, the EU will never be a “real power”
because there is always someone in the room who is overly
cautious, and will insist on looking at matters “sensibly.”

Next Steps On Cyprus/Papadopolous’ Dubious Character...


--------------------------------------------- ----------

¶3. (C) The next steps for the Commission are figuring out how to
spend money in Northern Cyprus. Patten expects the EC to open an
office to oversee their assistance. While there will be legal
hurdles to managing the process, he was confident the Commission
would find a way. Patten doubted the Greek Cypriots would openly
oppose any efforts, noting that they were “on their heels”
diplomatically after their blatant efforts to stifle opposing
views on the referendum. This incident, Patten said, was a sad
reflection on the realities of EU enlargement: Some of the new
members were people you would “only want to dine with if you have
a very long spoon.” Not that the EU should have been surprised by
Papadopolous’ behavior, Patten said, since they knew well who they
were dealing with: Milosevic’s lawyer.XXXXXXXXXXXX ... And on

Turkey
-----------------
¶4. (C) Patten noted that he was the biggest proponent in the
Commission for Turkey’s admission. In his view, based on the
technical merits alone, the Commission has no other option but to
give a positive avis to begin accession negotiations. Still, he
said the political climate in Europe is not receptive to Turkey’s
candidacy. The problem, in his view, was not Chirac in France,
since “he can change his policies on a whim.” Patten considered
the opposition of conservative parties in Germany and Spain the
most serious obstacles to Turkish admission.

On the Difference Between a Union and an Alliance


--------------------------------------------- ----

¶5. (C) Patten also said he felt at times the US does not fully
appreciate the difference between expanding an alliance like NATO,
and a Union like the EU. When a country joins an alliance, it
becomes a distinct member of a group committed to a common cause
-- but nothing more. When countries join the EU, they become part
of the whole, formally and practically indistinct in many areas of
EU competence. “We have to be ready to trust their food and
sanitation standards, for instance.” In this regard, he noted that
some of the accession countries were foisted on the EU as part of
a larger bargain. Cyprus, for instance, probably should not have
been admitted (as Papadapolous’ behavior prior to the referendum
indicated), but the Greeks insisted on Cypriot admission as the
price of agreeing to some of the northern European candidates.
Croatia, Patten said, is probably far more prepared for EU
membership than either Bulgaria or Romania, who will likely enter
the Union earlier. Romania, in particular, was a “feral nation.”
We noted that we were shocked by del Ponte’s clean bill of health
on ICTY cooperation while Gotovina still was at large inside
Croatia. Patten said he too was surprised by del Ponte’s letter,
but once the referee had made the call, the EU was bound by her
judgement.

On Russia, WTO, Kyoto, and Putin’s “Killer’s Eyes”


--------------------------------------------- -----

¶6. (C) Patten was in Moscow last week, and had just concluded EU-
Russia ministerial consultations in Brussels this week. He said
the EU had become overly dependent on Russian energy supplies, and
should become more engaged with the countries of the Caucasus and
Central Asia in order to diversify supplies. To do so, however,
the Union would also have to become more involved in pipeline
politics.

¶7. (C) WTO discussions had not moved forward substantially during
these most recent talks. Patten said the EC was sticking with its
positions on energy, but he was worried that they may have taken
too strong a line, and would be forced to backpedal significantly
at a later stage. In his view, this was unfortunate because he was
worried the EC was spending too much negotiating effort on energy
rather than focussing on other items that really mattered, such as
overflights. Patten also said that Putin had explicitly suggested
a possible trade-off between the Russian position on the Kyoto
Protocol and WTO negotiations during last week’s talks, although
he was not sure how serious the Russians were on this, or whether
it was a convincing trade-off for Commission officials.

¶8. (C) Patten said Putin has done a good job for Russia mainly
due to high world energy prices, but he had serious doubts about
the man’s character. Cautioning that “I’m not saying that genes
are determinant,” Patten then reviewed Putin family history:
grandfather part of Lenin’s special protection team, father a
communist party apparatchik, and Putin himself decided at a young
age to pursue a career in the KGB. “He seems a completely
reasonable man when discussing the Middle East or energy policy,
but when the conversation shifts to Chechnya or Islamic extremism,
Putin’s eyes turn to those of a killer.”

Ten Commandments for the Next Commission


----------------------------------------

¶9. (SBU) Patten’s public remarks at the dinner focused on the


future of the Commission -- not foreign affairs. He offered ten
recommendations for the next Commission to help them improve the
EU’s image with Europe’s citizenry, as follows:

-- 1) Deliver substance: highlight areas where the EU can make a


difference in the world, such as the rapid changes in Justice and
Home Affairs, or external assistance.

-- 2) Go with the flow of the institutional debate: Don’t spend


energy trying to stop intergovernmental efforts that have a head
of steam behind them. Instead, try to channel these efforts in
useful directions.

-- 3) Exploit the “Community Method” where it exists: Make the


most of EC strengths, such as on the internal market, trade, or
foreign assistance.

-- 4) Be open to new ways of working: The number of regulations


passed should not be a measure of success of the Commission.

-- 5) Regulate better: aggesively develop the initiative the


Commission launched in 2002. Get serious about consultation and
impact assessment rather than just going through the motions.

--6) Get economic management right: There should be no “free


riders” in the monetary union, but the EU should seek greater
flexibility that takes account of the differences between states.
The Commission must also be ready to accept the same sort of
management discipline it demands of the Member States.

-- 7) Put more effort into monitoring implementation of EU


legislation: use score cards and “league tables” on infractions.
Compare best practices. Be ready to be tougher on sanctioning
persistent bad performance, perhaps by cutting EU financial
programs such as structural funds.

-- 8) Be prepared to scale back or eliminate bad policies: Take a


thorough look at the CAP, and focus greater attention on what
needs to be done at the Community level, and where “subsidiarity”
and national/local administrations would be the better option.

-- 9) Get internal organization right: Create real clusters of


issues where
Commission Vice Presidents have real authority.

-- 10) Demonstrate that the EU can make a difference to people’s


lives.
SCHNABEL