European Commissioners Michel Barnier and Ant[cent]nio Vitorino upheld the Community method from a pragmatic viewpoint. They pointed to the contribution the Commission made last May 22 but deliberately stopped short of referring to a gradual merger of the roles of the High Representative and the Commissioner for External Relations. The Community method does not boil down to the Commission's jurisdiction, stressed Mr Barnier.The role and future of the High Representative for the CFSP was the key theme of the debate. This is a clear signal that it will figure large in the forthcoming constitutional Treaty. Peter Hain, representing the British Government, suggested that the High Representative should chair the "External Relations" component of the new General Affairs Council, as defined by EU leaders at their Seville Summit. The High Representative should have a right of initiative and his/her own budget, he said. Without ruling out the possibility of a "link" between the High Representative and the Commissioner for External Relations, Mr Hain objected to the idea of investing the CFSP with an EU dimension. The same holds true for the ESDP. A diplomatic and common defence system will be strong only if it is based on the assets now available to the Member States. This is an inter-governmental matter and it cannot be denied, he said. He went on to assert that the High Representative's budgetary and diplomatic resources would be derived from the Member States and national parliaments should be in charge of vetting how they are used, particularly in the case of troop deployments.Louis Michel, the Belgian Foreign Minister, who is representing his country in the Convention, said the High Representative system has operated quite smoothly but the time has come to improve upon it. He wants the High Representative to enjoy a right of initiative and speaks of a "convergence" with the European Commission in the case of activating first pillar instruments for external relations, economic aid and assistance or external trade. Whilst stressing the need for a substantial budget to accompany the development of the CFSP and the ESDP, Mr Michel refrained from spelling out whether this should involve national or EU funding or a mixture of both.Gianfranco Fini, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister, who is representing his government, said that "in order to guarantee the effectiveness of the CFSP without upsetting the balance between the inter-governmental approach...

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