Tag Archives: European External Action Service

Hearings of Diplomats – List of Priorities or What?

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has decided to ask the EU’s new ambassadors to China, Georgia, Japan, Lebanon and Pakistan and the EU Special Representative (EUSR) to Sudan to come in for hearings. The aim is to check for knowledge of the dossier.

Now, the committee has not demanded hearings of all the nominees for diplomatic jobs. So two interpretations are possible – either the committee members consider those particular candidates problematic, or we are looking at a list of foreign policy priorities. If the latter is true, then the committee has shown considerable insight. However, for some reason Afghanistan is missing.

Summary of the Council Decision on the Organization of the European External Action Service

The Council Decision establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS) has been published in the Official Journal. The decision was adopted after some negotiations with the European Parliament, which, although only consulted in this procedure, wielded significant influence over the final result.

The decision specifically underscores that the European Parliament will fully play its role in the external action of the Union, including its functions of political control as provided for in Article 14, para. 1 TEU. The High Representative will regularly consult the European Parliament on the main aspects and the basic choices of the CFSP and will ensure that the views of the European Parliament are duly taken into consideration.

The main function of the EEAS is to support the High Representative for the Foreign and Security Policy and the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission, and the Commission in the exercise of their respective functions in the area of external relations.

The EEAS must support, and work in cooperation with, the diplomatic services of the Member States, as well as with the General Secretariat of the Council and the services of the Commission, in order to ensure consistency between the different areas of the Union’s external action and between those areas and its other policies.

The EEAS is managed by an Executive Secretary-General who operates under the authority of the High Representative. The Executive Secretary-General is assisted by two Deputy Secretaries-General. The central administration of the EEAS is organised in directorates-general comprising geographic desks covering all countries and regions of the world, as well as multilateral and thematic desks.

Union delegations will be opened by the High Representative, in agreement with the Council and the Commission. The Head of Delegation shall have authority over all staff in the delegation, whatever their status, and for all its activities. The Head of Delegation shall have the power to represent the Union in the country where the delegation is accredited.

Permanent officials of the Union should represent at least 60 % of all EEAS staff at AD level, including staff coming from the diplomatic services of the Member States who have become permanent officials of the Union.

The European Diplomatic Service – Yet Another Win for the European Parliament

There is now a political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the proposal for a Council Decision establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service. But wait: why do we need a political agreement for a Council decision in the first place???

Enter the budgetary powers of the European Parliament. Though the EP has only the right of consultation on the Council decision, it has much more to say on the financing of the European External Action Service. The European Parliament initially opposed the proposal, demanding budgetary oversight, that most of its staff will come from the EU institutions rather than directly from member states and that senior appointees will be politically accountable to the Parliament when carrying out their duties. That is why a compromise was needed, and the European Parliament had to work with the High Representative and the Member States on it.

This looks like a certain victory for the European Parliament.