Download PDF

Mara Marinaki, Managing Director for Global and Multilateral Issues, EEAS
Crowne Plaza, Le Palace, Brussels
Saturday 4 February 2012

As delivered

Thank you, Mark, and good day, ladies and gentlemen and dear colleagues.  I understand that, after two quite long days of intensive and very fruitful dialogue among so many participants coming from the ranks of academia, think-tanks, governments, international and regional organisations, the EU and countries all over the world, it is high time for me to offer a reflection on what I think were some of the most interesting elements that emerged from this dialogue.  I will concentrate my remarks, of course, on the specific role that the EU plays and can still play in the non-proliferation and disarmament field.

A key purpose of the conference was to reaffirm the strong EU policy interest in non-proliferation and disarmament. The EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, adopted quite some time ago – in 2003 – at the Thessaloniki Summit, remains a cornerstone of EU policy and still remains relevant.  Further elements of the strategy could be further explored, but definitely this should be the departing point.  As expressed in that strategy, meeting the threat of WMD proliferation needs to be a central element in the EU’s external action, using all instruments and policies at the Union’s disposal – to this end, our lead words are synergy, complementarity and added value.  I reaffirm that all the states of the Union and the EU institutions have a collective responsibility for preventing these risks by actively contributing to the fight against proliferation.

Non-proliferation is at the core of EU policy toward Iran – an issue that has rightly captivated the attention of this conference a few minutes ago.  Of course, it will come as no surprise to you that, notwithstanding the differences of opinion that have been voiced at this conference, I am confident that EU foreign ministers made the right decision last week by broadening the EU’s restrictive measures against Iran as well as reaffirming the longstanding commitment to work for a diplomatic solution.  I can only second the views expressed by my colleague Stephan Klement on the consistency of EU policy towards Iran.  I hope that, in the coming weeks, there will be a positive response from Tehran to foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s communication on 21 October to engage in sincere discussions on the nuclear issue without preconditions.  The EU is definitely not a hostage of perceptions in this regard.

Beyond Iran, the discussions at this forum have spanned the whole range of non-proliferation and disarmament issues.  The plenary debates on strengthening the NPT, promoting non-proliferation and security in the Middle East and assessing EU Non-Proliferation Policy and Implementation gave enough food for thought to all of us for the weeks and months to come.  There was intellectual grist not only to reflect upon, however, but also on which of these areas to take action.  A key feature of the conference was to highlight the specific EU perspective and contribution to global action in this field. 

In the special sessions yesterday afternoon, a very interesting and diverse set of presentations and ensuing discussions expanded our collective embrace of the wide non-proliferation agenda.  A wealth of ideas was presented that certainly deserve consideration for incorporation into our various lines of action.  The special session topics, as you are well aware, included bio risks and chemical-weapon threats, space and missile proliferation, proliferation-related crimes, nuclear security, conventional arms trade and trafficking, and three proliferation case studies.  A cornucopia of analytical insights was presented for our intellectual consumption.  No one can ingest it all at one stroke.  Indeed, the only downside of special breakout sessions is that one cannot be in three places at the same time, but at least we can do it later and at our leisure when the transcripts of each session are available on line, so I would invite you to take up this opportunity.

I am also convinced that an underlying theme that emerged from this intense two-day discussion is that, while non-proliferation and disarmament have benefited from EU action since 2003, today, almost 10 years after the adoption of the WMD Strategy and the additional impetus provided by the ‘New lines of Action’ adopted by the Council in 2008, there is an even greater need for more EU engagement in these fields.  What we have undertaken in the EU in the implementation of our WMD and SALW strategies tells us how much more our efforts can still achieve.  I would like to indicate a few of the areas:

  • We are a major contributor to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund, which we have supported since its establishment in 2003 with more than €30 million.  Countries of the region have been selected for projects under this Fund in the area of nuclear security (in particular enhancing the physical protection of nuclear installations), legislative and regulatory infrastructure, and enhancement of national capabilities to prevent illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials etc.

  • We contribute, through various financial instruments, up to €25 million to the project of an IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank, aimed at providing reassurances of fuel supply as an incentive not to engage in national fuel cycle activities.  We had the opportunity to go over the options and the plans that are already underway with the Director General of the IAEA yesterday, Kwaku Aning, in Brussels, and I promised to go back to the IAEA in two weeks’ time to take the discussion further with the entire IAEA leadership, so our commitment is a given in this field.

  • We actively support, through the IAEA as well as through member-state activities, the promotion and national implementation of the IAEA Additional Protocol as the Safeguards standard.  We welcome the recent ratification by the UAE and encourage others to follow this lead. 

  • Our support for peaceful nuclear activities and applications in third countries, both directly and through the IAEA, amounts to approx.  €150 million each year, to make sure that, when nuclear activities are undertaken by countries around the globe, the highest standards of nuclear safety, security and safeguards are met.

  • We have supported the OPCW in its objective to universalise the CWV and promote its full national implementation.  The EU, through the OPCW, has also promoted projects aimed at enhancing national capacities in the area of peaceful uses.

  • Similar activities have been ongoing in support of the universalisation of, and compliance with, the BTWC, both through outreach seminars as well as through legislative assistance.  This helps to enhance the capacity of countries which need to put legislation in place in order to comply with the convention, and includes the provision of assistance in drafting the national implementing rules.  The EU can also provide means to raise awareness among stakeholders, through training and visits of national authorities and parliamentarians, and workshops involving decision-makers as well as law-makers.  At the 7th BTWC Review Conference, last December in Geneva, several countries referred to the instrumental and positive EU role in assisting them to accede to and implement the Convention. 

  • There are also cooperation projects specifically aimed at assisting countries to develop efficient national export controls systems.

  • With our financial assistance to the UNODA, workshops are organised in support of the implementation of UNSCR 1540; for example, aiming at enhancing the capability and capacity of officials responsible for managing the export control process. 

  • Our EU Joint Research Centre (JRC), which has developed competences in many nuclear and non-nuclear fields, is considered one of the very few state-of-the-art laboratories in the area of nuclear forensics.  We can consider making its knowledge and expertise available to support the establishment of laboratories in the different regions of the world.

  • The EU Joint Research Centre has also carried out a series of projects aimed at improving the capacities for border management and controls concerning nuclear and radioactive materials in third countries, mainly in the Balkans, Central Asia and the Caucasus.  These could serve as a model also for other regions, and you are most welcome to come up with proposals.

  • As a final example, the EU is devoting, under the Instrument for Stability, around €100 million to establish centres of excellence aimed at strengthening national capacities in various regions of the world in the fight against CBRN risks. 

All these activities are a concrete implementation of our commitment to promote regional security by supporting nuclear, chemical and radiological non-proliferation.  We want to do more to make our world a safer place.

With this in mind, we were particularly pleased to hear all the ideas about further action that the EU could take; notably, support for a process of confidence-building leading to the establishment of a zone free of WMD in the Middle East, support for the implementation of the Pelindaba Treaty, support to missile non-proliferation efforts, and support for the EU initiative for a Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

These ideas highlight how the non-proliferation and disarmament challenges remain very high on our external policy agenda and, as horizontal issues, are relevant to and closely intertwined with all major events today: relations with major partners, some of which with upcoming political elections; the fallout from the Arab spring; and the Libyan and Syrian crises.

Ladies and gentleman, dear colleagues, the discussions over the past two days also confirmed the wisdom of the Council’s decision in 2010 to create a network of think-tanks to exchange views and research on non-proliferation issues and to offer thoughts on the formulation and implementation of EU policy in this field.  Over the past day and a half, we have heard a richly diverse range of views, including well researched analysis and well reasoned policy opinions.  It is all extremely helpful to us in the EEAS.

The depth of the discussions is a testimony to the wealth of institutional knowledge and research capacity to be found in European think-tanks and academic institutions in the field of non-proliferation in all of its policy manifestations.  I am very pleased that these research bodies have come together in the new network of EU non-proliferation institutions.  This conference was an ideal way to highlight the work of the network of institutes, to strengthen their capabilities, and to take advantage of their output.  By joining the official and non-governmental communities in discussions over the last two days her in Brussels, this conference has created synergy, fortified academic and policy connections and enhanced our collective understanding of proliferation issues and the ways to address them.

This conference did not limit itself to hearing from experts within the EU, but we also welcomed views from outside the Union and appreciated the insights and advice that you all had to offer.  We need allies in the fight against proliferation and I hope that today’s meeting reinforced existing bonds between our various communities and helped to create new alliances.  Finally, my sincere thanks go to Camille Grand, Mark Fitzpatrick and their excellent team for making this conference and this first attempt of the EU Consortium such a great success.  Thank you all for your participation and attention.

Mark Fitzpatrick
Thank you very much, Ambassador Marinaki.  If you will indulge me for just one more minute, I now need to offer a couple of words of thanks to those who made this conference possible, starting, of course, with the EEAS, led by Ambassador Marinaki.  We greatly appreciate your support, and particularly those working in the WMD division.  We had tremendous support from the group there – Clara Ganslandt, Wolfgang Rudischhauser and Mihaela Vasiu; most importantly, Nico Frandi – nobody had a better partner in an endeavour; and Annalisa Giannella for sparking this whole event.

I also want to thank my colleagues in the Consortium.  Somebody asked me, ‘How can it be that the face of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference speaks with a North American accent?’  You will understand that I am only the front-man.  We are a consortium.  Camille Grand from the FRS, who was mentioned by Mara, was the inspiration for our consortium.  Harald Müller, Ian Anthony and I work together with him.

Finally, thanks to the IISS backroom team responsible for making this conference work so smoothly – a small number of people who worked tremendously hard the last two days and in the weeks and months leading up to this conference, beginning with Helen Opie, Charlotte Laycock, Richard Saunders, Rebecca Fishley and Dina Esfandiary here in Brussels, and colleagues back in London led by James Howarth, who is putting things together on the website – some of the presentations are already on the IISS website and will soon be on the Consortium website too.  Please join me in thanking these three groups of colleagues who brought this conference to you.

Helga Schmid, Deputy Secretary General, EEAS

Brussels, 11-12 November 2015

EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2015