Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, USA



It is widely recognized in the relevant literature, as well as acknowledged in the political practice that the wish of candidate countries to join the European Union (EU) implies a strong will on their part to pursue policies which aim at satisfying the Copenhagen political and economic criteria set by the Union. Although bringing the candidate countries in line with the European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) does not fall directly within these criteria, the contents of these policies do constitute part of the EU Acquis Communautaire, which, in turn, forms a part of what has been termed ‘EU conditionality’.

Acquis communautaire is a French term meaning, essentially, “the EU as it is”. In other words, the term refers to the rights and obligations that EU countries share. The acquis includes all the EU’s treaties and laws, declarations and resolutions, international agreements on EU affairs and the judgments given by the Court of Justice. It also includes actions that national governments take together in the area of CFSP and the European defense and Security Policy (ESDP). Accepting the acquis, therefore, means taking the EU as one finds it. Candidate countries have to accept the acquis before they can join the EU, and make EU law part of their own national legislation. In addition, in the CFSP sector, candidate states are expected not only to agree with the EU’s ‘common position’s and ‘joint actions’ but also to show a keen interest, as well as actively participate in international missions alongside with existing EU Member States. In other words, candidate states are expected to do exactly what the EU Member States do prior to their accession to the European Union. Therefore, the first question that arises is how easy or difficult is it for candidate countries to harmonize their foreign policy structures and orientation with that of the European Union?

Recent history has shown that for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe prior integration into NATO paved the way for their eventual accession to the European Union. Within NATO, however, the dominant power is the United States. In addition, for several Central and Eastern European states (CEESs), such as Poland and Romania, friendly relations with the United States in the aftermath of the Cold War, independent of NATO membership, has been viewed as a central pillar of their foreign policy. Consequently, a second question arises as to what happens if the adoption of certain EU acquis does not run in parallel with NATO and US interests. In other words, what happens if the candidate countries have to choose between complying with the EU acquis to assure accession and maintaining good relations with the United States? The divergence between the EU and the US concerning the Iraq War is a case in point.

To address these two important questions, the present article will focus on the case of Romania. The choice of this country is based on three reasons. First, Romania was as eager to join the EU as was to join NATO and maintain very cordial relations with the United States. Therefore, Bucharest had to make some tough choices during the discord between the EU and US resulting for fundamental disagreements on the issue of the war in Iraq, as well as on differences on issues related to the War on Terror. Of course, other CEES countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, found themselves on the side of the United States – a fact that brought a very heavy condemnation from the then French President Jacques Chirac. But these countries were already EU Member States and therefore one cannot assess the impact of EU accession pressures on the foreign policy choices of candidate countries.

Second, unlike Bulgaria, the entry of Romania into the EU constituted a highly controversial issue as many argued that due to the inability of successive governments to introduce the necessary structural reforms Romania was not actually ready to join the EU on 1 January 2007. Thus the Romania case was judged to be more complicated than that of Bulgaria. But was the above argumentation relevant to the case of Romanian foreign policy and its compliance to the EU acquis?

Third, unlike Bulgaria, Romania had many more issues to address regarding its relations with neighboring countries thereby adding to the complexity of the case. This is a very important point in the sense that good relations with neighboring countries is considered to be a fundamental issue for the European Union. This is due to the fact that the EU does not wish to make the candidate countries’ problems its own. Thus, the requirement that candidate states solve their territorial and other problems with their neighbors prior to their accession falls both within the Copenhagen political criteria and the EU acquis. Many of the existing Balkan non-EU countries have identified it as their main foreign policy goal one day to become members of the European Union. Meanwhile, they view NATO as a step forward in achieving their goal. This automatically implies maintaining good relations with the United States. Therefore, the examination of the Romania case may shed some interesting light on what happens when complications arise. In turn, this assessment would assist practitioners of prospective candidates in their policy planning.

In order to address the questions raised above, this paper will be divided into two parts. The first part will focus on the evolution of the European CFSP. This would identify the political context within which candidate countries operate, as well as assist the reader to comprehend the requirements included in the EU acquis regarding the CFSP. The second part will investigate the efforts undertaken by Romania to comply with the EU acquis in the field of CFSP. In so doing, it will focus on the European Commission’s Annual Reports on Romania’s Accession to the European Union. The first of these reports was made available in 1998, while the last one was submitted in November 2004 when the European Commission considered the CFSP Chapter of the acquis as having been formally finalized.

The EU System of Foreign Policy

The EU’s ambitions on matters of high politics have their origins in the 1960s. After the French rejection of the European Defense Community (EDC) guaranteed the ascendancy of NATO in defense matters, the European Economic Community (EEC) turned its attention to foreign policy. In 1970, the European Political Cooperation (EPC) was created in order to provide collective expression to the foreign policy interests of EEC Member States. Linked to the Community, but independent of it, EPC was dominated by the national foreign policy apparatus. The European Commission was little more than an invited guest, with no right to propose or vote. EEC Member States identified where their national interested overlapped, without any pretension to a ‘common’ foreign policy.

Still EPC fostered consensus on many difficult issues and helped the EEC establish its reputation as a defender of human rights by becoming the vehicle for its collective condemnation of South Africa’s apartheid system. The EPC’s primary tools were diplomatic demarches and declarations, but its relationship with the EEC became increasingly organic through the use of economic aid and sanctions (political, diplomatic, and economic).

Over the course of twenty years, EPC showed that foreign policy coordination was not only possible but had made Europe a ‘civilian’ power. The gap between the Union’s growing economic power and its limited political clout was a source of increasing frustration in the 1990s. One response was the creation of a distinct EU system of foreign policy making, although no specific plan was advanced. With the second pillar and the CFSP at its center, it overlapped with but did not replace the EEC system and over time it came to incorporate the ESDP.

EPC was given treaty status and formally linked to the activities of the EEC in the 1986 Single European Act. Within few years, the EPC was exposed as inadequate in the face of the geopolitical changes that shook Europe, namely the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. With the Maastricht negotiations still focused on monetary union, the idea of strengthening foreign policy cooperation as part of plans for creating a ‘political union’ was given impetus by the dramatic transitions in Central and Eastern Europe, the Gulf War and the Civil War in Yugoslavia. Thus, negotiations at Maastricht grafted two new domains (CFSP and Justice and Home Affairs - JHA) onto the existing Treaty of Rome, resulting in the EU’s three-pillar structure.

The CFSP upgraded the role of the European Commission, giving it the right-shared with Member States – to initiate proposals. The CFSP even allowed for limited qualified majority voting, although it was always clear that most second-pillar actions would require unanimity. Compliance mechanisms in the CFSP were not as strong as those in the first pillar, with the European Court of Justice excluded. The CFSP remained largely intergovernmental, even if links to the Community system were gradually strengthened. After the CFSP was launched, the habits of intensive exchanges established within EPC meant that EU Member States were able to agree a considerable number of ‘Common Positions’ and ‘Joint Actions’, the CFSP’s two major policy instruments, even if both remained ill-defined. Specific measures, which sometimes went beyond the usual EPC declarations and demarches, included support for humanitarian aid and democratic elections, ‘Stability Pacts’ to stabilize borders in Central and Eastern Europe, and aid for crisis management. Nevertheless, critics scorned the CFSP’s inability to deal with more complex or urgent security issues. The EU was somewhat better at saying things in foreign policy that it had been under EPC. But it seemed only marginally more capable of actually doing things.

The CFSP was considered ripe for reform when the Treaty of Amsterdam was negotiated in 1997. This time the majority voting controversy was mostly avoided by creating a new doctrine of ‘flexibility’, also known as ‘constructive abstention’ or ‘enhanced cooperation’. This doctrine allows EU Member States to opt out of certain CFSP actions (particularly those involving defense) as an alternative to vetoing them. Thus, coalitions of the willing can proceed with ‘Joint Actions’ even if some Member States find themselves unable or unwilling to participate.

This is a very important point because in this way EU candidate countries, like Romania, could overcome some significant foreign policy dilemmas. For example, instead of having to choose between maintaining cordial relations with the US and complying with the EU acquis, candidate countries could achieve the former without undermining the latter. Therefore, despite the fact that they were not part of the EU ‘coalition of the willing’, candidate countries could receive a very good assessment in complying with the acquis simply because did not prevent the EU of undertaking certain actions.


A second important point regarding the EU system of foreign policy making in relation to the candidate countries is that in case that EU Member States are unable to reach a consensus or agree on ‘common positions’ and ‘joint actions’, the candidate states’ positions could not be assessed by the European Commission in its effort to identify whether the candidate countries comply or not to the relevant EU acquis.

The Amsterdam Treaty’s main second-pillar innovation was the creation of the new High Representative for the CFSP (who is also the Secretary-General of the Council). The High Representative was designed to provide the EU with a single voice and the CFSP with a single face. However, the EU continued to be represented externally by its ‘troika’ (the High Representative, the Foreign Minister of the country holding the EU Presidency, and the European Commissionaire for External Affairs). In other cases, special formulas for representation involved a confusing mix of Commission and national officials. The EU thus continued to show multiple faces even when it managed to speak with a single voice.

Given the CFSP’s mixed record, it might seem paradoxical to extend the EU foreign policy system into the realms of defense and security. Most EU Member States had long accepted the supremacy of NATO on defense matters. Attempts by France to make the exclusive European defense alliance, the Western European Union (WEU), “an integral part of the development of the Union”, as stated in the Maastricht Treaty, did not produce any concrete results. Yet, in recent years the EU has taken small but decisive steps towards creating an ESDP. The crisis in Kosovo marked the turning point.

Thus the EU made firmer Treaty commitments to security cooperation, first in Amsterdam but especially at Nice. In particular, the so-called Peterburg Tasks (humanitarian and rescue missions; peacekeeping and crisis management; and peacemaking) were marked out as basic EU foreign policy goals. The Union also set in motion its own merger with the WEU. A new Political and Security Committee of senior national officials was created and designated the “linchpin of European security and defense policy and of the CFSP”. Plans were agreed to create a Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) of 60,000 troops, to be operational by the end of 2002.

Skeptics noted that the EU already possessed such forces, including a multi-national ‘Eurocops’ among others. Moreover, it was argued that the EU had always been able to draw upon the resources of the WEU. The problem was that Europe’s militaries were weak, under-funded, and lacked basic necessities. Meanwhile, the relationship of the ESDP to NATO remained unresolved. The American Administration of George W. Bush continued to demand greater burden-sharing from the Europeans, while repeating the US fundamental position reflected in the policy of the ‘three no’s’: no decoupling of the US from Europe; no duplication of American forces by the EU; and no discrimination against the US, including in arms purchases.

In the construction of an ESDP, as in European foreign policy generally, formal treaty reforms often matter less than formal learning by doing. When it committed itself to ESDP, the Union still had yet to take on an independent military operation. However, the decision of President Bush to withdraw US forces from Bosnia and Kosovo made the prospect of Europe going it alone in Balkans peacekeeping and policing a real prospect. As a result, the EU began to involve in military operations of various kinds in its neighborhood.

It is within this political context that the Romanian efforts to meet the EU acquis communautaire in the field of the CFSP will be examined.

Romania’s Compliance with the EU Acquis in the Field of CFSP

The acquis related to the CFSP is based on legal acts under the second and, indirectly, the first pillar including legally binding international agreements. It is also based on political declarations and agreements to conduct political dialogue in the framework of the CFSP, to align with EU statements, and to apply sanctions and restrictive measures where required. In addition, candidate states are expected to agree with the EU’s ‘common position’s and ‘joint actions’ and show a strong interest, as well as actively participate in international missions alongside with existing EU Member States. Moreover, candidate countries are requested to brought the necessary changes in their Foreign Ministries in order to meet the challenges of integration in the CFSP sector.

In order to provide a clearer picture of how Romania responded to the EU acquis, this part is divided into five sections. The first section discusses the integration of Romania into the EU foreign policy structures. The second section examines Romania’s collaboration with the EU on international issues. The third section identifies the steps Romania undertook to address issues related to arms control. The fourth section investigates how Romania dealt with problems involving its neighbors, while the final section focuses on changes brought to the Romanian Foreign Ministry apparatus to make it more effective in addressing the issue of Europeanization of Romania’s foreign policy...

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