Lambrinidis appointed special representative for human rights
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Wednesday 25 July 2012
Stavros Lambrinidis, former foreign affairs minister of Greece, was appointed by the Council, on 25 July, as EU special representative (EUSR) for human rights.
Lambrinidis, 50, who was also vice-president of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2011 and a Socialist MEP since 2004, will be in charge of enhancing the effectiveness and visibility of the EU’s human rights policy throughout the world. As first EUSR for human rights, Lambrinidis will have “a broad, flexible mandate, giving him the ability to adapt to circumstances, and will work with the European External Action Service [EAS], which will provide him with full support,” the EAS said.
Once he takes office, on 1 September – with an initial mandate running until 30 June 2014 – he will be answerable to Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief. Backed by current European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Lambrinidis was competing for the new position with five other candidates. The two other favourites were Astrid Thors, former European affairs minister of Finland, and François Zimmeray, French former Socialist MEP. Morten Kjaerum (Danemark), Jan Jarab (Czech Republic) and Laima Andrikiene (Lithuania) were also on the list of those interviewed by Ashton.
Lambrinidis’ appointment as the EU’s first thematic special representative follows adoption by the Council, on 25 June, of the EU’s strategic framework and action plan on human rights and democracy. According to the document, Lambrinidis will be responsible for assisting Ashton, the Commission and the Council in implementing the 96 steps set out in the action plan, to be taken over the next two and a half years.
But questions about how the new EUSR will work, without stepping over other special representatives’ agendas, remain. Being a thematic EUSR, the former Greek FM will have to work carefully to cooperate with the geographical EUSRs. Lambrinidis will also have to fight against the cutbacks in the EU’s 2013 budget planned by the Commission which, if rubber-stamped by the European Parliament, will reduce the EU’s foreign policy funds by over one billion euro.
Lambrinidis, described as a “tremendous asset” by Ashton, is expected to work on the EU’s crisis response around the world and to reinforce the bloc’s presence on human rights issues in international forums, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council, and in regional organizations, including the African Union or the ASEAN.
Questions about how the new EUSR will work, without stepping over other special representatives’ agendas, remain