« PreviousContinue »
This report was prepared at the request of the Subcommittee on European Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is based on extensive discussions with European parliamentarians, secretaries of delegations to the North Atlantic Assembly, European and American government officials, NATO secretariat officials, and North Atlantic Assembly secretariat officers. The interviews were for the most part conducted in February and March of 1978.
The report also draws on the author's observation of the September 1977 annual meeting of the Assembly and on a number of assessments of the Assembly by private scholars and experts. The author would like to express his gratitude to those individuals who were willing to share their ideas and comments on the Assembly with the understanding that no direct attribution would be made.
At the request of the subcommittee, this report is focused on comments and proposals designed to enhance the effectiveness and influence of the North Atlantic Assembly and of American participation in the Assembly.
In the last year, the Assembly has adopted a few reforms that were suggested by some of the sources for this study. Such steps are reflected in this report
. For the most part, however, the problems identified remain.
3. Improving the work of the Assembly-
1. The Assembly and other interparliamentary groups.-
2. The search for a formal role in NATO...
3. Facing the Assembly's identity crisis.
American participation in the Assembly-
Improving the work of the Assembly-
1. Problems and possible solutions.
A. The influence of the Assembly is negligible.
B. Assembly plenaries are generally dull.-.
C. The year-to-year working pattern is inadequate...--
D. The Assembly's schedule doesn't encourage American
E. The Assembly's impact on public opinion is extremely
F. The Assembly's ability to generate independent research
and analysis of Alliance matters is too limited.
G. The tenure of the Secretary-General requires reexamina-
H. There is insufficient competition for secretariat positions..
I. The Assembly's publications policy is inadequate.
A. Possible remedial revisions to the rules of procedure of the North At-
B. The budget for the North Atlantic Assembly for financial year 1978--- 48
C. Political composition of national delegations to North Atlantic As-
sembly fall 1977 session compared to political composition of parent
D. Background information relating to United States participation in the
SUMMARY AND FINDINGS
1. THE ROLE OF THE ASSEMBLY The North Atlantic Assembly plays a unique and potentially constructive role in relations between the United States, Canada, and the West European allies. The Assembly is the only body that regularly brings together members of the United States Congress and members of the Canadian and European Parliaments for the express purpose of discussing the Atlantic Alliance.
For a number of years, the Assembly sought to create a more formal link between the Assembly and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This effort has proved fruitless, for a number of reasons, and no important elements in the Assembly seem inclined to pursue this approach further.
The abandonment of a quest for an organic link to NATO, however, has left the Assembly with what resembles an identity crisis. The Assembly now faces a choice between remaining something of a club” organized for the purpose of supporting NATO or of becoming a forum for the expression and interaction of all major political currents within the Alliance.
Transforming the Assembly into a more accurate reflection of the democratically-elected legislatures in the member countries would give the Assembly more political credibility and would enliven the debate and exchange of ideas at Assembly sessions. The main argument against such a transformation is that problems could result from the participation of some Communist parliamentarians from those countries where the Communist party has more than a minor representation particularly Italy, France, Portugal, and possibly Iceland. Participation of Communists could result in the Assembly-mainly the military committee-being denied some information that it currently is given by NATO and U.S. authorities. Very few sources, however, thought that this possibility would limit the Assembly's work in any substantial way.
Many European participants in the Assembly believe that sooner or later the Assembly will have little choice but to permit Communist participation or be open to damaging criticism. If this is so, the Assembly could make virtue out of necessity by declaring itself as welcoming delegations that are an accurate reflection of the composition of national parliaments before such a situation arises.
2. AMERICAN PARTICIPATION Effective, representative, and consistent American participation in the North Atlantic Assembly is critical to the viability of the organization. The fact is that American participation has fallen far short of maximum effectiveness throughout much of the history of the Assembly.