|04BRUSSELS2211||2004-05-25 11:07:00||CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN||Embassy Brussels|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRUSSELS 002211
1.(C) Summary: As we approach next month's US/EU summit, we
give the Irish a tentative B in how they've been dealing
with issues of concern to the US. In general, we find the
Irish to be reactively helpful honest brokers on most issues,
but they have pushed their own agenda on the mid-East and
Africa even if this means isolating the US. For most issues,
from the war on terrorism, the Balkans, ESDP, and getting the
EU to have a common asylum policy, the Irish have sought to
be constructive and helpful. Even though the Irish are a
"small" country Presidency with a very stretched Brussels
presence, they have been attentive to transatlantic
relations. End Summary
"Reactively Helpful" "Honest Brokers"
2. (C) In our interactions with the Irish Presidency in
Brussels, we have found them "reactively helpful." They have
not been particularly forthright in tipping us off about
potential problems, but if we raise issues and concerns with
them, they are responsive. (The Council and the Commission
and other PermReps remain better sources of "early warning.")
As is likely the case in Dublin, we found our Irish
interlocutors friendly and open.
-- In particular, the Irish have been quite good about
ensuring that US views are considered in internal EU
discussion. For example, under the Irish Presidency's
leadership, a French-led "rush" to lift the EU arms embargo
against China was successfully slowed down. The Irish have
been working to kick this issue down to the Dutch Presidency
or possibly later. This has been in the US interest and the
Irish deserve credit for their efforts (as does the lobbying
of our embassies in member states).
-- Similarly, the Irish took pains to ensure that US views on
nonproliferation were heard during the EU's decision-making
process -- even as the Irish Presidency never wavered from
its commitment to multilateral disarmament. While this meant
that Irish and US objectives were at times at odds, their
apparent sincerity in playing "honest broker" by ensuring
that our views were given a proper hearing -- alongside their
own -- in EU policy debates, is appreciated.
-- For the most part, the Irish did not push "effective
multilateralism" as hard as we might have anticipated. The
Commission and some EU member-states in Brussels see this
concept as an effort to assert EU influence through the UN
and other institutions to counterbalance US influence. We
note that the Dutch have stressed that this will be theme for
their forthcoming EU Presidency later this year.
Pushing their Agenda
3. (C//NF) However, when the Irish decide to drop their
broker role and step up to pursue national or EU priorities,
they sometimes have done this against US interests. On the
May 6 Palestinian UNGA resolution on the status of the
occupied Palestinian territory, the Irish cut a deal with the
Palestinians, railroaded some member states (e.g. the
Netherlands, ref) with an end result that isolated the US.
The Irish Presidency did something similar at the UN
Commission on Human Rights last month, when they cut a deal
on Sudan with the African Union and then imposed the deal on
other EU members. As with the UNGA resolution, the Irish
determination to push their "deal" within the EU and on
others left the US isolated.
Out of step with the US on Russia?
4. (SBU) At a recent US/EU task force, the Irish Presidency
revealed ambivalence about a joint US/EU statement at the
Summit recognizing joint US/EU actions in the former Soviet
Union. Irish reps expressed concern that this could be seen
by Moscow as anti-Russian. At the May 21 EU/Russia Summit,
the Irish seemed content to pocket Russia's acceptance of EU
enlargement and not worry about "deliverables" for Moscow
until the Dutch host their summit with Russia in the fall.
GME/Mid-East: reactive but how helpful?
5. (SBU) While we can appreciate that the Irish have not
picked transatlantic fights over the Mid-East, they (and most
other members) have been hesitant to embrace a Greater
Mid-East Initiative too warmly. The Presidency has been
virtually invisible in Brussels so far, letting the
Commission take the lead in discussing GME with the U.S.
However, under Irish leadership, the Irish led an effort to
forge a new EU strategy to the region, crafting helpful
language on the need for political and economic reform and an
enhanced role for women in the region, as well as on EU
readiness to achieve "complementarity" with the U.S. Similar
language was also inserted in the conclusions from the EU's
May 5-6 Euromed ministerial with Arab countries in Dublin.
From the EU perspective, the Irish have performed well in
this defensive mode, remaining mildly responsive to our GME
initiative while maintaining a separate profile for the EU's
ties to the Arab world.
Constructive and helpful on ongoing "big issues"
6. (C) Nonetheless, on balance the Irish have tried to move
ahead in positive ways on a number of US interests. On ESDP,
the Irish, based in part on their Partnership-for-Peace
experience, have been very constructive in moving discussions
of EU/NATO relations out of the rancorous political arena to
technical experts level talks with a focus on practical
details. The progress made to date on Bosnia transition owe
much to this pragmatic approach. The Irish have been
positive in US/EU interactions at the OSCE -- most recently
at the US/EU OSCE experts level consultations in Brussels and
also the recent OSCE anti-Semitism meeting in Berlin. The
Irish have also been helpful on Liberia, strengthening asset
freeze measures in the Balkans, getting internal EU agreement
on asylum directives, and wrapping up internal EU agreement
to go ahead with the common EU asylum procedures.
Cyprus/EU: On the Irish watch but not Dublin's "fault"
7. (C) The Irish Presidency seems to have dodged the bullet
for the EU's decision to admit a divided Cyprus into the EU
on May 1. Although no one in the Council was willing to stand
up and be counted prior to the referenda, the Irish leaned
further forward than most in expressing support for the Annan
plan and calling for a united Cyprus. Currently, the
Brussels blame game is pointing to the Greek Cypriots, who
now represent Cyprus as full EU members as the "spoilers" of
this historic enlargement round. The Irish did put on a good
show in Ireland of welcoming the new members and as such have
been as appropriately supportive of the need to celebrate the
EU's 10 new members. We don't foresee major decisions on
Turkey's candidacy during the Irish Presidency, although we
expect this to be a huge issue for the US and the EU during
the Dutch Presidency.
8. (SBU) Following the March 11 Madrid train bombing, the
Irish succeeded in turning European fears about domestic
vulnerabilities into a far-reaching commitment to "get
serious" about the war on terrorism. Within days of the
attack, the Irish had drafted a proposal calling on EU member
states to speed implementation of previously agreed (but
politically sensitive) measures to protect European citizens
from terrorist attacks. They also advocated certain new
measures, such as the creation of an "EU CT Czar," to make
the EU a more effective and better coordinated player in the
war on terrorism. The refined proposal emerged two weeks
later as an ambitious and detailed declaration by EU leaders
at their March 25 Summit in Brussels. This was a significant
achievement for a Presidency with so little bureaucratic
capacity for dealing with such a complex and sensitive policy
area. In so doing, the Irish also helped to reinvigorate EU
efforts in ways that should lead to a robust package in thisarea for the US/EU
9. (C) Our EU interlocutors are pleased to have a more normal
Presidency after what they tended to see as Italy's eratic
leadership. The Irish have been relatively successful at
being a good "European" presidency. In particular, the Irish
worked quite hard to "celebrate" EU enlargement, and have
tried to move the EU constitutional process forward --
despite deep member-state disagreements. As a result, as the
Irish seek to exercise their "political will" to move US/EU
summit deliverables through the EU political process, they
should be in a better position to deliver than the Italian