Zwei EWIV-Events am 16. und 17.11.2018 – Fachkonferenz und Vertragsgestaltungs-Seminar in Waren/Müritz

Save the day(s): Freitag, den 16.11.2018, für eine Fachkonferenz über aktuelle Fragen in Recht, Steuern und Unternehmensführung einer EWIV*, aber auch über Fehler von EWIV-Lenkern und die Probleme, die das ergibt, an aktuellen Beispielen. Unter den Referenten: die Teilnehmer selbst, Franz Rybaczek (Geschäftsführer der goodworks Innovation Agency EWIV in Niederösterreich, einer Kooperation der Sozialwirtschaft, aber auch privater Unternehmen und öffentlich-rechtlicher Strukturen), Prof. Dr. Petra Sandner vom Fachbereich Wirtschaft der Hochschule Anhalt (einer ausgewiesenen Kennerin der EWIV-Besteuerung) und Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, Leiter des Europäischen EWIV-Informationszentrums. Einladung und Programm auf http://www.ewiv.eu oder direkt über: http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/10-18Einladg-Progr_EWIV-Fachkonf_Waren-Mür.-1.pdf

Samstag, den 17.11.2018, für ein Seminar zur Vertragsgestaltung bei EWIV – wasserdicht, vorteilhaft, strategisch. Mit wertvollen Informationen zum Handelsregister (wo jetzt herauskam, dass eine große in Deutschland ansässige EWIV mehrere Mitglieder eintragen ließ, obwohl diese nie Mitglieder wurden!). Einladung und Programm auch über http://www.ewiv.eu oder direkt über den Link: http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/10-18_Progr-Einladg_EWIV-Vertragsgestaltg_181117_Waren-Müritz-1.pdf

Weiteres auch auf dem EWIV-Blog unter http://ewivinfo.wordpress.com.

  • EWIV heißt Europäische wirtschaftliche Interessenvereinigung, geregelt in der EWG-Verordnung 2137/85. Eine Rechtsform der grenzüberschreitenden Kooperation, die in jedem EU- und EWR-(also Norwegen, Island, Liechtenstein)-Mitgliedsland im Handelsregister eingetragen wird, also in derzeit 31 Staaten. Die wohl bekannteste EWIV ist der Fernsehsender ARTE.

There Will Be No Brexit. Probably.

By Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

There will be no Brexit. This is my, as a lawyer I can say this, provisional legal opinion. But not only legal, if you commit a general system analysis. Brexit is an objective impossibility, and all this for the following reasons:

From the beginning, I was astonished with what kind of childish stubbornness Brexit was implemented into the British Government’s activities. I know- also in parallel from my own political history – that this was and is done in context with inner-party power struggles, beginning with a totally wrong estimation of the relation between inner-party Tory wings and the population’s position, by former Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron, and this is the danger of several years being in power at the same position, has lost a lot of ground contact, like Chirac in France when he decided to hold a Referendum on the EU Constitution a year ahead of when this was held – a year where he easily could lose a lot of approval, when an unholy alliance  brought this Referendum to failure. The same thing two times (!) in the Netherlands, when first Prime Minister Balkenende, the guy who looked like Harry Potter, ordered the second Referendum in NL after the first around 350 years or so ago, also on the EU Constitution, which was lost against an unholy alliance, too. The second (or third) Dutch Referendum was lost, when the Government submitted the Ukraine Association Agreement with the EU to a public vote. Not very many people have seen the text of this Agreement nor discussed it. A Referendum is always, in open, democratic societies, in EU countries above all, an invitation to kick the respective government in their ass, and nothing more. Why then some politicians, most at the fringes of the political spectrum, advocate a Referendum in questions where they expect a popular outcry against any government activities? However, we all live in parliamentary democracies, with parliamentary committees where many questions can be discussed and solved, and public hearings for these committees can be held, etc.  I took (actively!) part in British discussions in 1971/1972, right after school when I was invited for several panel discussions by Young Conservatives (and confronted with arguments against the then EEC, like „at one breakfast with a Rhine Army officer’s relative near Münster/Germany one foul egg was served…“). But I think there was more discussion about joining the EEC then, than before the Brexit Referendum to leave the EU.

Anyway, it was a clear deficit by the Tories and their protagonists in leading the debate before the Brexit vote. And nobody in the Government made any clear plans what to do if Brexit were approved – The UK suffers still of this disease, if you see and hear the leading politicians of this country, like David Davis.

Regarding the „system analysis“ arguments, I cannot imagine that British citizens today and collectively are, excuse me, so stupid to vote for their economic down-spiralling, for their loss of influence within or towards the EU, for not being taken serious anymore in the EU, for their world-wide loss of influence (as proven by Theresa May’s and BoJo’s travel & talk attempts in the last months). Everything said in this respect is a big lie, or perehaps „fake news“. And the gain of „control“ to everybody else in the world, by tougher immigration policy also to the EU, which is expected as a tool of new British nationalism means self-isolation and again loss of influence.

And now the British press is fuller than ever with qualified opinions (Nick Clegg) on how to exit the Brexit. British political culture may manage this U-turn, with a lot of what has lacked since 2016: the typical British pragmatism (which lacks totally in the negotiations with the EU). Forecasting attempts in policies should never be linear – like: 1 x voted for Brexit (and this with 37% of the population only!) – there will be the Brexit. This, by the way, is more immanent to a dictatorship, which is not applicable for Great Britain. Linear moves would permit the extrapolation (or intrapolation) of political circumstances, based on a population which is immune to learning. I hope this is not the case with the British. We have already a lot of UK citizens who changed their citizenship, and they are now Germans, French, Spanish, Portuguese etc. And lots of EU citizens have returned to the EU since the vote, and new ones hesitate to go to Britain. This is not typical for an element of a European open society.

In this situation, it cannot be a miracle that Theresa May seems to commit many mistakes. One of the next ones would be not to publish the legal opinions kept in secret until now about the Brexit and its implications – they seem to be good for a U-turn of the Government. While we are in a situation when senior Brussels personalities tell in private „OMG, let the British go, the sooner the better…“, this is clearly the result of the chaotic, unprepared, and probably unfeedbacked negotiation position of UK. It would take the Brexit negotiations with the EU into a year-long, maybe 5 – 8 years lasting negotiation nightmare. In the time between June 2016 and March 2017 any state of the world could and would have been better prepared than H.M’s Government.

Once more: to keep the advantages for UK in the EU Single Market which is and will be seen as necessary for the country, will require a U-turn towards the Brexit. It will take several generations until the British will be as „European“ as the French, the Italians, the Spanish, the Germans etc., but there may be a new agreement between the EU and Great Britain about the continuation of the EU Membership. Until now, I have thought, this can be achieved only by a change of government (which does not necessary mean a Labour one) and a significant change of public opinion. Now I believe it can be started by a change within the Government  This – or the other solution – seems today more likely than ever. Which leads me to the cautiously optimistic opinion that there will be no Brexit at all. If UK ask the European Council to vote for an extension of the March 2019 deadline, it probably will be granted, as first step. However, if the British would come back to the EU, a (francophone) senior Brussels personality has to be quoted: „Alors, s’ils reviennent, c’est la merde que recommence…

Finally: The EU Reacted Strongly. United we Stand, Divided we Fall.

Finally, the EU has reacted in a rather strong way. Today, 31st Jan., 2017, in the afternoon the EU Council President, the former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, wrote an open letter to his 27 colleagues, as a Jingle for the forthcoming EU Summit Meeting in Malta next weekend. I wish this letter a world-wide distribution, and it goes exctly in the direction of two articles of John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus from Washington D.C., and myself in the next EUFAJ which will appear in some days. What is Donald Tusk’s letter about? Here is the full text:

„Dear colleagues,

In order to best prepare our discussion in Malta about the future of the European Union of 27 member states, and in light of the conversations I have had with some of you, let me put forward a few reflections that I believe most of us share.

The challenges currently facing the European Union are more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome. Today we are dealing with three threats, which have previously not occurred, at least not on such a scale.

The first threat, an external one, is related to the new geopolitical situation in the world and around Europe. An increasingly, let us call it, assertive China, especially on the seas, Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine and its neighbours, wars, terror and anarchy in the Middle East and in Africa, with radical Islam playing a major role, as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable. For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.

The second threat, an internal one, is connected with the rise in anti-EU, nationalist, increasingly xenophobic sentiment in the EU itself. National egoism is also becoming an attractive alternative to integration. In addition, centrifugal tendencies feed on mistakes made by those, for whom ideology and institutions have become more important than the interests and emotions of the people.

The third threat is the state of mind of the pro-European elites. A decline of faith in political integration, submission to populist arguments as well as doubt in the fundamental values of liberal democracy are all increasingly visible.

In a world full of tension and confrontation, what is needed is courage, determination and political solidarity of Europeans. Without them we will not survive. If we do not believe in ourselves, in the deeper purpose of integration, why should anyone else? In Rome we should renew this declaration of faith. In today’s world of states-continents with hundreds of millions of inhabitants, European countries taken separately have little weight. But the EU has demographic and economic potential, which makes it a partner equal to the largest powers. For this reason, the most important signal that should come out of Rome is that of readiness of the 27 to be united. A signal that we not only must, but we want to be united.

Let us show our European pride. If we pretend we cannot hear the words and we do not notice the decisions aimed against the EU and our future, people will stop treating Europe as their wider homeland. Equally dangerously, global partners will cease to respect us. Objectively speaking, there is no reason why Europe and its leaders should pander to external powers and their rulers. I know that in politics, the argument of dignity must not be overused, as it often leads to conflict and negative emotions. But today we must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe – regardless of whether we are talking to Russia, China, the US or Turkey. Therefore, let us have the courage to be proud of our own achievements, which have made our continent the best place on Earth. Let us have the courage to oppose the rhetoric of demagogues, who claim that European integration is beneficial only to the elites, that ordinary people have only suffered as its result, and that countries will cope better on their own, rather than together.

We must look to the future – this was your most frequent request in our consultations over the past months. And there is no doubt about it. But we should never, under any circumstances, forget about the most important reasons why 60 years ago we decided to unite Europe. We often hear the argument that the memory of the past tragedies of a divided Europe is no longer an argument, that new generations do not remember the sources of our inspiration. But amnesia does not invalidate these inspirations, nor does it relieve us of our duty to continuously recall the tragic lessons of a divided Europe. In Rome, we should strongly reiterate these two basic, yet forgotten, truths: firstly, we have united in order to avoid another historic catastrophe, and secondly, that the times of European unity have been the best times in all of Europe’s centuries-long history. It must be made crystal clear that the disintegration of the European Union will not lead to the restoration of some mythical, full sovereignty of its member states, but to their real and factual dependence on the great superpowers: the United States, Russia and China. Only together can we be fully independent.

We must therefore take assertive and spectacular steps that would change the collective emotions and revive the aspiration to raise European integration to the next level. In order to do this, we must restore the sense of external and internal security as well as socio-economic welfare for European citizens. This requires a definitive reinforcement of the EU external borders; improved cooperation of services responsible for combating terrorism and protecting order and peace within the border-free area; an increase in defence spending; strengthening the foreign policy of the EU as a whole as well as better coordinating individual member states‘ foreign policies; and last but not least fostering investment, social inclusion, growth, employment, reaping the benefits of technological change and convergence in both the euro area and the whole of Europe.

We should use the change in the trade strategy of the US to the EU’s advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time. The European Union should not abandon its role as a trade superpower which is open to others, while protecting its own citizens and businesses, and remembering that free trade means fair trade. We should also firmly defend the international order based on the rule of law. We cannot surrender to those who want to weaken or invalidate the Transatlantic bond, without which global order and peace cannot survive. We should remind our American friends of their own motto: United we stand, divided we fall“.

I really like this Open Letter – finally the EU gets a spine of steel. Donald Tusk Shows that he is a leader, and I hope he remains still a while in his present Job in the future, too.

It is not by chance that Donald Trump is mentioned in one line with questionable presidents like the ones in Turkey or Russia. This is really a shame for an American president. We all in Europe should not be passive in the attempts of the conscient Americans to stand and finally overcome this Person. He has so Little political and civic education, that his advisors seem to have free way, much to the pleasure of the president who thinks he can run a complicated state like a billionaire’s shop.

What is worst: The US have always been at the side of European integration, and of course we had some small difficulties, but this is normal in families. In families who share the same values, also internationally. In the last years of the Soviet Union, in the 1980s, there was a big discussion in Europe about so-called „equidistance“ of Europe, towards the USSR and the USA. In Europe, it was clear that we may be geographically closer to the first ine, but value-wise closer connected to the US. Now we know: We stand alone – and we will not give up, now more than ever, to tell the world that it is worth while to have an open society, of immigration and emigration (many famous US companies would not exist if today’s travel bans would have existed!), a social market economy, and a clear concept of the togetherness in the world. What the Republicans do at present, is adventurous, and it shows that the political coordinates cannot be considered parallel at all, between Europe and the USA. This not yet a cultural fight, but serious cultural differences – and it is indeed a matter of education, of being open to other cultures and countries. Let us work in the suitable way in keeping contact with „enlightened“ Americans, who think apriund the Corner, and let us prepare the day, when Trump is „shot down the tube“ by the voters, or by an impeachment before, what I do not exclude, if you see the exhaust of his companies.
Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal
http://www.eufaj.eu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ertragssteuern und Europäische wirtschaftliche Interessenvereinigung (EWIV)

Dieser Blog-Post wurde geschrieben, als wir noch kein paralleles, eigenes EWIV-Blog hatten. Sie finden ihn unter http://ewivinfo.wordpress.com, Dort gibt es eine ständig steigende Anzahl interessanter Beiträge zum Thema Europäische wirtschaftliche Interessenvereinigung (EWIV) und ihre rechtlichen, steuerlichen und betriebswirtschaftlichen Aspekte, alles unter der Ägide des Europäischen EWIV-Informationszentrums.

29.8.2018

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Unser Blog verzeichnete in den letzten Wochen immer wieder Aufgriffe auf einige ältere Hinweise auf Workshops des Europäischen EWIV-Informationszentrums, einen  losen Zusammenschluss von EWIV-Experten aus Recht, Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Steuerlehre und dies aus mehreren EU-Ländern. Die Europäische wirtschaftliche Interessenvereinigung (EWIV – auf Deutsch, in den anderen 24 EU-Amtssprachen entsprechend) ist eine EU-weite Kooperations-Rechtsform aufgrund EU-Recht und wird in der EU-Verordnung 2137/85 geregelt (dieser Text und viele andere Informationen können auf http://www.ewiv.eu abgerufen werden). Um unseren Blog-Lesern Anrufe zu ersparen, hier einige grundlegende Informationen:

  1. Wie erwähnt, ist eine EWIV eine Kooperations-Rechtsform zur transnationalen Zusammenarbeit, also mindestens zwischen zwei Mitgliedern aus zwei verschiedenen EU-Staaten (+ die drei EFTA-Staaten des EWR: Liechtenstein, Island und Norwegen). Das heisst: Wer keinerlei leicht, etwa mit Dokumenten nachweisbare europäische Kooperation nachweisen kann, sollte auch keine EWIV gründen bzw  betreiben. Die Gefahr ist sonst groß, dass die Finanzämter (die in der EU ständig besser grenzüberschreitend zusammenarbeiten) feststellen, dass einer der Mitglieder eine „leere Hülse“ darstellt (Zitat aus einer baden-württembergischen Außenprüfung, wo eine deutsche GmbH mit ihrem spanischen Partner, einer Comunidad de bienes auf Mallorca, keinerlei Zusammenarbeit pflegte). Die Folge kann sein, dass bis zur Verjährungsgrenze (also mindestens 10 Jahre retrospektiv) die EWIV rückabgewickelt werden kann. Dies also zum sog. Transnationalitätserfordernis, das allerdings bei den wenigsten Finanzämtern bekannt und bewusst ist – allerdings von den Finanzgerichten aufgegriffen werden könnte. Es kann damit gerechnet werden, dass dies in den nächsten Jahren allgemein bewusst werden könnte und dann entsprechend zurück geprüft wird.
  2. Eine EWIV hat immer Unternehmereigenschaft (vgl. auch das Schreiben des Bundesministeriums der Finanzen von 1988 zur EWIV, ebenfalls auf http://www.ewiv.eu). Das bedeutet, dass eine EIWV, die ja auch in  den Handelsregistern Abt. A in Deutschland eingetragen wird (und somit als Personengesellschaft gilt, die im Übrigen keine Publizitätspflicht kennt), z.B. den Grundsätzen ordnungsgemäßer Buchführung (GoB) des HGB unterliegt. In der Praxis – durchaus sanktioniert von Finanzämtern in Deutschland – genügt eine einfache Einnahme-Überschuss-Rechnung, bei Umsätzen bis 500.000 EUR jährlich, oder bei einfachen Buchungsvorgängen. Erst ab diesem Limit muss man eine (Handels-)Bilanz anfertigen.
  3. Eine EWIV darf keinen Gewinn aufweisen – dies steht in den meisten Gründungsverträgen und ergibt sich auch aus Art. 40 der EU-VO (die eigentlich EWG-Verordnung heisst, da sie im ersten Entwuf 1970 angefangen wurde, aber der Einfachheit halber hier EU-VO genannt wird). Dieser Art. 40 besagt, dass eventuelle Überschüsse der EWIV nicht bei dieser zu versteuern sind, wenn sie an die Mitglieder aufbezahlt werden. Diese Mitglieder müssen dann diese Einnahmen (aus Beteiligung z. B.) versteuern, wo auch immer sie sitzen. Dabei können diese Auszahlungen über das Jahr verteilt oder auf einmal erfolgen, und sie können nach Köpfen oder „asymmetrisch“ erfolgen (also entsprechend Projektanteilen, nach Messgrössen wie z. B. Umsatz, Mitarbeiter o. ä.).
  4. Eine Möglichkeit aber ist auch die Bildung von Rücklagen, die bei der EWIV als „Reservefonds“ bezeichnet werden. Diese sollten in einem Rücklagenbeschluss genauer bezeichnet werden, z. B. …. EUR für ein Seminarzentrum am Lago di Garda etc. Aber auch zukünftige Kosten wie z. B. die Anschaffung von Pkw, die Webseite, allgemeine Bürokosten usw. können Gegenstand von derartigen Rücklagen sein. Derartige Rücklagen sind selbstverständlich von den Finanzämtern zu akzeptieren – dies geschieht auch. Wenn allerdings eine EWIV stets Jahresumsätze von 150.000 EUR generiert und dann plötzlich eine Million auf dem Rücklagenkonto aufweist, ist dies erklärungsbedürftig bzw. muss schlüssig erklärt werden können. ACHTUNG: Die deutschen Steuerbehörden akzeptieren derzeit mehr und mehr Investitionsrücklagen. So ist seit 2016 beim Investitionsabzugsbetrag (IAB) nicht mehr obligatorisch (und dieser endet bei 200.000 EUR), einzelne Wirtschaftsgüter einzeln zu benennen. Voraussetzung ist eine Steuererklärung per Datenübertragung.
  5. So gesehen, bezahlt eine EWIV also – bei korrekter Buchhaltung – weder Körperschafts- noch Gewerbesteuer. Voraussetzung hierfür ist aber, wie erwähnt, dass der Jahresabschluss der EWIV „null auf null“ ausgeht. Wo im Übrigen EWIV Gewinne ausweisen (manchmal geschieht dies, weil unwissende Steuerberater oder Buchhaltungsbüros dies so ausweisen, zum Teil auch aufgrund veralteter IT-Programme), müssen sie diese versteuern. Gleichzeitig machen sie sich auch automatisch zum IHK-Mitglied (mit allen Beiträgen) und bei der Kommune gewerberegisterpflichtg, wovon sie ansonsten befreit bleiben.
  6. Ansonsten bleibt eine EWIV natürlich steuerpflichtig bei allen anderen Steuern, z. B. Lohnsteuer, Kfz-Steuer, Grundsteuer, Grunderwerbssteuer, aber auch Umsatzsteuer. Sie ist in diesem Zusammenhang als ganz normales Unternehmen anzusehen.
  7. Wir machen sicherlich auch in 2017 einen oder mehrere Workshops zu diesem Thema und werden hierauf hinweisen. Wir werden auch in den nächsten Tagen ein Blog nur für EWIV-Fragen eröffnen, wo in qualifizierter Weise auf Fragen eingegangen wird – und nicht, wie seltsame Unternehmensberater implizieren, auf „Null-Steuern mit EWIV“ oder ähnlichen Unsinn.

Zwischenzeitlich stehen wir gerne zur Verfügung, falls es für präzise Fragen nötig sein sollte. Unsere E-Mail: ewiv@libertas-institut.com. Und wir können auf 25 Jahre Erfahrung und mehr als 330 gegründete EWIV zurückschauen.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, Assessor jur.

Leiter des Europäischen EWIV-Informationszentrum, http://www.ewiv.eu

 

 

 

Tbilisi/Georgia, EaP Civil Society Forum: Is Donald Trump enemy no. 1 for Europe’s freedom?

Donald Trump is Europe’s enemy no. 1 – because he wants to violate art. 5 NATO Treaty on the mutual defense clause and wants the US‘ intervention to be dependent „if the bill has been paid“. A real problem for European NATO states, and no miracle that Putin praised Trump to be a „wise man“. This was no. 1 out of 10 policy theses set up by Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, Chief Editor of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (www.eufaj.eu), during an Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in Tblisi/Georgia end of July 2016, when speaking on „Security Challenges of the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood“. This event was organised jointly by the EaP Civil Society Forum, Brussels (www.eap-csf.eu), represented by its Co-Chair Krzysztof Bobinski, and the Liberal Academy Tbilisi, whose director Lasha Tughashi is also National Coordinator of the EaP CSF National Platform in Georgia. It was opened furthermore by Kakha Gogolashvili, Director of EU Studies at Rondeli Foundation (GFSIS), and Ambassador Janos Herman, head of the EU Delegation in Georgia. Here is what Hans-Jürgen Zahorka expressed:

Challenge no. 2: Erdogan. While it was legitimate to do everything necessary against a military putsch against a democratically elected government, the behaviour of the Turkish president after the putsch attempt shakes the whole region: not only in most of the EaP Caucasus countries there is now uncertainty, incalculability what Turkey wants really. He breaks democracy and human rights in a big NATO state, and his attempts to flirt with Putin are neither credible nor acceptable for NATO. There is a lack of consistency in Turkish NATO membership attitude, and the alliance has somehow to react, as there is a rule that NATO means also democracy, human rights and openness. This is also the fundament of the EU-NATO joint declaration from 8.7.2016.

Challenge no. 3 is nationalism, populism, lack of solidarity between European states- as there are populist and nationalist parties now in every country, and solidarity e.g. in the refugee question is often just not existing. Had the EU Member States found a solution for a proportional (including economic strength) distribution of asylum seekers, there would have been no need for a shaky Turkish refugee agreement. This new egoism is also expressed by the rising number of protectionist acts in the WTO member states, at present 22 per month, and of course by the Brexit of the UK from the EU, which brings a high economic damage – and this mainly to the UK. So the danger comes from within – also in the form of xenophobe, racist, glorifying the own country populist parties (partly financed by Russian institutions!), which are anti-Western, anti-liberal, anti-European integration oriented. In short: who want to turn back the wheel, which requires a vivid, attentive civil society in all the EU and EaP member states.

Challenge no. 4: CSDP (EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy) will gain momentum within the EU – in particular if Trump ever would win and the Brexit approaches. Then the Europeans really have to do something. The German Federal Armed Forces White Book from July 2016 is a signal for the right way, in stressing a European integrated defense, but of course also the EU Strategy Paper from a week before.

Challenge no 5: We will get an EU army – but (unfortunately) not today or tomorrow, but after tomorrow. The development will go step by step, taking also in account possible external threats which may accelerate it. Maybe this army will be much more „electronic“ than a traditional army, but there will be EU structures. It can be taken for sure that unlike in former conflicts a „levée en masse“ won’t be neither necessary nor possible, but due to the modern ways of tomorrow’s warfare, electronic warfare, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) etc. will play a more pivotal role then anytime before – also in preventing such conflicts. We have already pooled monetary policy, when national competences don’t do it anymore. We can also pool our armed forces.

Challenge no. 6: hybrid threats. This is now a clear part of the reaction potential under the CSDP, and the EU reaction (and the EU is more able than NATO to respond to hybrid threats!) was started with a Joint Declaration from 6.4.2016. It should be directed against all ‚divide et impera‘ and attempts to destabilize a country. In the EaP, this can be done with a better know-how about the potential of small enterprises. So social unrest can be prevented – and the economy can be brought to thriving mode. In this context, I see an urgent need for informing SMEs about the chapters of the free trade agreements, where signed, to be de facto implemented – and they should be much better known to the economy. Hybrid threats shall also – see proposal no. 18 of the Joint Declaration – be treated together between EaP countries and the EU. There will be common risk assessments, and analyses and action plans of common activities. The EU, however, is asymmetrically concerned by hybrid threats, which imposes the chance for EaP countries to tell their own experiences in some countries of the EU. To meet civil society there should be a new task for the EaP civil society.

Callenge no. 7: Terrorism.. EaP countries are affected differently, but this can change very fast. In this context, a full role of the INTCEN EU Intelligence Centre must be advocated, with compulsory exchange of information. EaP countries can and should take part in this exchange – to the benefit of all.

Challenge no. 8: The EU was not able to prevent frozen conflicts and conflicts in its Neighbourhood. No miracle, as no instruments were available. But for the future, the EU must have a close look on its geographic environment. It is advocated, n this context, to explore the possible deplacement of EU peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh, together with simultaneous EU-monitored negotiations which might last for many years. Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as the directly concerned Karabakhis should and could agree to this – and they would, in view of the alternatives which are not possible for various reasons (Russia, USA, OSCE, NATO).

Challenge no. 9: The EU and the EaP countries should endorse the strengthening of the OSCE – with a binding mediation mechanism, with armed peacekeepers etc. Countries or regional insurgents etc. who do not recognise the legitimacy of the OSCE must be isolated as far as possible, and modern communication can also contribute to keep a distance between these de-facto governments and the populations.

Challenge no. 10: The whole EU and the EaP countries, if possible, should endorse a value-oriented legislation and state-building. Security is more than the absence of war. In this context, the principle of being firm on principles and values of the EU while dialoguing with Russia is right. Borders cannot be changed by force. And the rules as in art. 2 Treaty of the EU can be accepted also by every EaP state, as they represent the common denominator of European civilisation: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, human rights, minority protection, and this in a society of pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, ustice, solidarity and gender equality.

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See also the three illustrated posts on EUFAJ’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/eufaj

 

OSCE Peacekeepers for Eastern Ukraine?

The Chief Editor of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal, Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, will publish in a few days, in the next issue of EUFAJ (2/2016) this short comment on the question of OSCE peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine. They are – and will be – discussed in OSCE circles, in particular regarding the Minsk II Agreement on Ukraine, and the local elections in Eastern Ukraine. See the whole artcle (and others) in the week after the 9.5.2016 under http://www.eufaj.eu. The author had also contributed to a booklet: Ofelya Sargsyan/Hans-Jürgen Zahorka,  OSCE – Idea, Histoty, Challenges (with documents), with a short overview about the possible future of OSCE (see also http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/flyer-OSCE.pdf)

Should there be peacekeepers stationed in eastern Ukraine? With what kind of mandate, and how long? This question is examined also now in the framework of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), although not (yet?) officially. Russian peacekeepers alone are excluded, EU peacekeepers probably as well, and NATO peacekeepers too. Peacekeepers should be accepted by all the parties of a conflict. Whether this would be the case of OSCE armed personnel might be written in the clouds, but it is good that this possibility has been and will be discussed.

This led to a statement by a spokesperson of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office on alleged plans for armed OSCE mission to eastern Ukraine, on 27 April 2016. Germany is holder of the 2016 OSCE Chairmanship, and issued the following statement in Berlin in response to reports on alleged plans for an armed OSCE mission to eastern Ukraine: „The OSCE monitoring mission currently in place in eastern Ukraine is a civilian, unarmed mission. This was decided by the 57 participating States of the OSCE, and neither Germany nor France are involved in any agreement about changing the civilian nature of the mission – neither within the OSCE nor in the Normandy Format („N4“ – France, Ukraine, Russia, Germany).

It is true that we have, in our capacity as Chair of the OSCE and following consultations within the Normandy format, asked the Secretariat to develop options for improving security at the planned local elections. It is too early to say what the findings will be.

Without wishing to pre‑empt any decision, we can say that we find it difficult at this time to imagine what an armed OSCE mission might look like, that had the objective of effectively ensuring the security of the elections in the separatist areas and enhancing the security of OSCE observers. The OSCE currently has no precedent for an armed mission. On the contrary, being civilian in nature is a particularly important feature of OSCE monitoring missions, which require the consent of conflict parties to operate. When you take the idea of an armed mission to its logical conclusion, it raises a whole range of difficult legal, political, practical and military issues. We plan to arrange another meeting in the Normandy format in the foreseeable future, which will include the foreign ministers. A meeting of this kind would be the right opportunity to raise all the issues relating to the OCSE monitoring missions for discussion among the Normandy partners.“

In the background was a condemnation of threats against OSCE monitors in Ukraine: OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also on 27 April 2016 had expressed concern following the recent increase in ceasefire violations in Eastern Ukraine and the growing number of incidents involving OSCE monitors. Referring to recent threats against the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, Steinmeier had declared: “The SMM is a civilian, unarmed mission. It is instrumental for supporting the implementation of the ceasefire. The safety and security of SMM monitors must be assured by the sides. Those responsible for threatening or using force against the monitors must be held accountable.”

Maybe the „loud thinking“ about an armed OSCE mission should deter those who are against the OSCE as such („… they want to intervene in our internal affairs“, as declared often by the eastern Ukraine separatists). Indeed OSCE should think about their first armed peacekeepers, and this if only for the duration of local elections. Then OSCE would have found another, additional role – a role which would make sense if peacekeepers in Europe are needed. As mentioned, Russian peacekeepers alone are unthinkable, NATO ones as well, and the EU is not yet so far to deploy an armed force to keep the peace, if they would not be rejected as well, although Ukraine is an Eastern Partnership member state. So rests the OSCE, and in a peacekeeping mission lies a sensible and adequate task. At least it should be demanded, and who is against, this will speak for itself.

It can now be expected that at the next meeting in the Normandy format, with foreign ministers and/or presidents or prime ministers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany, on the 11 May 2016 in Berlin also the issue will be discussed if and if yes, how the security of the local elections should be guaranteed. The date of the elections is not determined yet, but the issues around these elections have to be solved under the Minsk II Agreement. So Ukraine will be on the agenda, including the preparation and security of the elections. As SMM is not armed and a civilian force, and an upgrade of SMM is not likely at all, there may be only a solution in deploying an armed OSCE force to eastern Ukraine. After 11. May we may know more. For if there is a common position within the Normandy format, this will be also the case in the OSCE.

The EU should establish a real Intelligence Service

Since several years, the European diplomatic service (European Extermal Action Service, EEAS) disposes of a small intelligence service unit, where less tan 100 people work, called INTCEN. It is jealously „supervised“ by national governments. These are not the „European spies“, and there is no James Bond smell in the air, anyway. The studies made are sometimes questioned, and there is a lot work done on the basis of open sources (which is indispensable for intelligence Services, too). The work of INTCEN is hardly discussed, and the work which could be done by them not either.

However, the terrorist events since mid-November 2015 in Paris, and elsewhere, brought a new push to these discussions. The ALDE chairman in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, pleaded in the meantime for a European Intelligence Service, and some Member States‘ ministers of interior pleaded, for evident reasons, for a closer cooperation between the EU intelligence services. This is indeed necessary – only a minority of services has effectuated a necessary information exchange about possible terrorists by the end of the year, which had been approved on governments‘ level.

What we need in the European Union, is a real military and extremist-oriented Intelligence Service, in addition – and in cooperation with – all the national services. A permanent informaton exchange, in the sense of a two-way traffic, has to be anchored legally, in order to have it at all. The same also for a parliamentary supervision, for which a special committee of the European Parliament should be created, based on the experience of some Member States. Art. 42-47 Treaty of the European Union(TEU) allow this, in my provisional legal opinion, even without treaty changes; art. 42 (6) allowing also activities of a part of Member States. It would just need the courage of some of them to launch an activity. We do do not need a new EU agency or similar, we just need to upgrade INTCEN, give them a reasonable legal framework, give them reasonable tasks which may consist of the coordination and compulsory information exchange between Member States‘ agencies. Whoever observes the external policy analytics capacity of the EU should not say „forget it“ and be allowed for closure of activities – just in contrary. We need also here „more Europe“ – an intelligence centre at least for coordination, with significantly more staff than now (could be also seconded from Member States‘ agencies), and with reasonable competences, and a permanent finetuning of own and Member States‘ activities, of own and other personnel, of own analyses and those of the EU Member States.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

http://www.eufaj.eu