Letter: Need for a common EU policy on Bosnia

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article ('Europe's heart in America's hands', 23 February) on the Sarajevo 'ceasefire' and the potential resolution of the conflict in Bosnia rightly claims that success is more likely now that the US and Russia are directly involved in the negotiations. The European Union's failure to act coherently over the conflict stems directly from the reliance on a shaky consensus based on purely national considerations of member states, and on the absence hitherto of an effective common foreign policy and of common institutions to implement it.

The contrast with European action on economic issues could not be clearer, where decisions are taken by EU institutions on the basis of a common European interest.

This enabled the then-European Community to act swiftly and decisively over economic sanctions against Serbia, and previously against South Africa and against Argentina over the Falklands conflict.

The obvious lesson is that, as on economic matters, the EUshould act as one over foreign policy and our common security. The earlier we move from inter- governmental consensus, representing the lowest common denominator between differing national viewpoints, to European institutions taking decisions in the common interest, the sooner will we able to play a significant role in promoting peace and security on our own continent and beyond.

Yours faithfully,

E. WISTRICH

London, NW3

23 February

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