Why can’t the EU crack the UN?

This week, a resolution granting the EU a special status at the UN was postponed by a vote of 76 states to 71 (the rest abstained or didn’t vote).  European diplomats have been working hard to get this resolution since the Lisbon Treaty passed.  What went wrong?  EUobserver has the story:

The European Union’s surprise upset in New York this week in its attempts to win expanded rights at the United Nations was a result of “ramshackle” strategy that even disgruntled some of the bloc’s closest allies, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to diplomats close to the proceedings.

“One word describes how the EU acted there: Confusion, overall confusion,” one diplomat told EUobserver.  “It was a ramshackle, pretty disorganised EU strategy,” the official continued. “The process fell apart. It was not thought through properly and their people just did not consult widely.”

“They did not really consider the possible objections, especially from the Caribbean, and thought they would just die away.”  Another diplomat described it as “an absence of tactical nuance”.

Oops! The basic accusation here – that the EU’s members have lost the art of gaming the UN system – echoes the conclusions of  a report for ECFR by Franziska Brantner and myself in 2008. Back then, some European officials whole-heartedly agreed with our criticisms. Others insisted that their coordination and outreach were just fine.

Funnily enough, we’re publishing an update to that report next week. I can’t give away the conclusions… let’s hope that this week’s set-back, which may prove ephemeral, means that people notice what we say.