26 July 2000 - the day of the infamous "Solana Decision"
- how did Mr Solana reply to a letter he had not received?
The Council of the European Union have just released to Statewatch a copy of the letter from Lord Robertson, the Secretary-General of NATO, to Me Solana, Secretary General of the Council which lead to the infamous "Solana Decision".
Lord Robertson's letter is dated 26 July 2000 and the acceptance by Mr Solana of the conditions set by NATO is also dated 26 July 2000. However, it now turns out that Lord Robertson's letter was not received by the Council until a day later, 27 July 2000. The Council Secretariat's date-stamp on the front page of the Roberston letter registers it as having been received on 27 July 2000 and the circulation list is: "M. Javier Solana, M.de Boisseu, Mme.Stifani".
It is therefore quite intriguing how Mr Solana answer a letter he had not received and perhaps more so when he could reply:
"I am pleased to inform you of my acceptance of said letter which, together with this reply, constitute Interim Security Arrangements which enter into force on the date of this reply."
Statewatch News online, March 2002
The 26th of July 2000 was an extraordinary day when the top-level committee of Brussels-based permanent representatives of the 15 EU member states, COREPER, agreed in secret to replace the 1993 Code of access to EU documents with a new code of access to meet the demands of NATO for secrecy. Only three countries voted against - the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. This decision was formally approved by another secret process - "written procedure", whereby a telexed text is agreed unless a EU government objects - on 14 August 2000, see: "The Solana Decision"
Parliaments - national and European - were not consulted and civil society was ignored.
The European Parliament took out a case against the Council in the European Court of Justice, only to drop it when the 26 July decision was replaced by the new Regulation on access to documents (Case C-387/00, Parliament v Council, for annulment of 2000 Council Decision amending the 1993 Council decision on access to
documents, formally withdrawn 22 March 2002) - despite the fact that the new Regulation itself was fundamentally affected by by the 26 July 2000 decision.
Now, nearly two years later, the full meaning of the "Solana coup" as some called it has come to light.
The day, 26 July 2000, that COREPER agreed the measure the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson, wrote to Mr Solana, the General Secretary of the Council of the European Union, detailing an interim agreement between the Council and NATO. By return, the very same day, Mr Solana, accepted in toto the terms on behalf of the General Secretariat of the Council - the letter of acceptance is extraordinary as it simply repeats the text of Lord Robertson's letter in "quotes" and adds: "I am pleased to inform you of my acceptance of said letter which, together with this reply, constitute Interim Security Agreements which enter into force on the date of this reply" (see full-text of the Solana letter obtained by freedom of information campaigners is below).
What makes the exchange of letters between Solana and Robertson beyond the pale is that the decision in COREPER was only a decision in principle, the formal adoption of the decision did not happen until 14 August.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, commented:
"As Neil Kinnock, EU Commissioner, is reported as saying recently: "It is usually much easier to reach an agreement if there are no listeners. It is not a question of secrecy, but of being able to act more efficiently" (19.3.02).
Those holding power do not need to conspire, they simply proceed down a road they are already agreed on. The sheer arrogance of the "Solana Decision" is breath-taking and shows an utter contempt for democratic standards."
Full text of the letter from Mr Solana (Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union), dated 26.7.00, in reply to the letter from the Secretary-General of NATO, dated 26.7.00
Council of the European Union,
The General Secretary/High Representative,
175 rue de la Loi,
26 July 2000
Dear Secretary General,
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 26 July 2000 which reads as follows:
"Considering that. following the decisions taken by the Heads of State and government of NATO Member States in Washington and by the European Council at Cologne. Helsinki and Feira. NATO and the EU may require to consult on military issues and co-operate on the appropriate military response to crisis;
Considering that the EU objectives in the field of military capabilities and those arising, for those countries concerned, from NATO's defence capabilities initiative will be mutually reinforcing;
Recognising that full and effective consultation, co-operation and transparency require the exchange of classified information and related material among NATO and the Council General Secretariat;
Conscious that such exchange of classified information and related material requires appropriate security) measures;
Considering the mandate received from the Ministerial meeting of the NAC held in Florence on 24 May 2000 to immediately initiate contacts with the EU and to prepare the ground for the future security arrangements between the two organisations in anticipation of the envisaged consultations on this matter.
1. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, hereinafter referred to as the Parties, shall:
(i) protect and safeguard the information and material of the other Party;
(ii) ensure that, if it is classified, such information and material will maintain the security classifications established by either Party with respect to information and material of that Party's origin and safeguard such information and material, in accordance with the measures in force by the originating Party.
In this respect: with regard to NATO the basic minimum standards for the handling and protection of NATO classified information and material, as set out in document [reference deleted] will be applicable; with regard to the EU, the rules, measures and procedures as set out in Decision n° 24 of 30 January l995 of the Secretary Genera] of the Council and Council] Decision of 27 April 1998 relating to the procedures whereby officials and employees of the General Secretariat of the Council may be allowed access to classified information held by the Council will be applicable;
(iii) not use the exchanged information and material for purposes other than those for which the classified information and material will be exchanged and for other than those established by the originator;
(iv) not disclose such information and material to third parties without the consent of the originator.
2. In order to implement paragraph 1 of the present letter, the Security Offices of the Parties shall co-operate closely. Security programs shall be established by each Party, founded on agreed basic principles and standards of security, which shall be implemented in the security
systems of each Party to ensure that the common degree of protection is applied.
3. The Parties shall ensure that all persons who, in the conduct of their official duties, require access to information or material classified CONFIDENTIAL or above exchanged under the provisions of these Interim Security Arrangements are appropriately security cleared before
they are granted access to such information and material.
4. The Interim Security Arrangements in the present letter apply to classified information and material exchanged between the Parties.
5. The Parties shall provide mutual assistance with regard to security matters of common interest.
6. The NATO Office of Security (NOS), under the direction and on behalf of the Secretary General of NATO and the Chairman, NATO Military Committee, acting in the name of the North Atlantic Council and the NATO Military Committee and under their authority, is responsible for security interim measures for the protection of classified information and material exchanged under the provisions of the present letter.
7. (i) The Secretary General of the Council is responsible for the interim security measures within the Council Secretariat of classified information and material exchanged under the provisions of the present letter;
(ii) Separate Administrative Arrangements will be worked out between the NOS and the Council General Secretariat which will cover i.a. the standards of the reciprocal security protection for the information and material to be exchanged and the liaison between the NOS and the relevant departments of the Council General Secretariat.
8. Prior to the exchanges of any classified information and material taking effect, under the provisions of the present letter, the responsible security authorities must reciprocally establish to their satisfaction that the recipient Party is prepared to protect the information and material it receives, as required by the originator.
9. Reciprocal arrangements which will monitor the effectiveness of the security protection of the classified information and material to be exchanged shall be agreed between the Parties.
10. The present letter shall not prevent the Parties from entering into a Security Agreement and from entering also in bilateral agreements with States and other Organisations for the same purpose, provided that they are not in conflict with the provisions of the present letter.
Each Party shall conduct a review of its existing bilateral agreement to determine if they are in conflict with the present letter and take appropriate action.
Should the above meet with your approval, I have the honour to propose that the present letter and your reply constitute Interim Security Arrangements which shall take effect from the date of your reply.
The present Interim Arrangements shall stand until to be replaced by Security Agreement once all requirements thereto have been fulfilled."
I am pleased to inform you of my acceptance of said letter which, together with this reply, constitute Interim Security Arrangements which enter into force on the date of this reply.
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