Tag Archives: High Representative on the Foreign and Security Policy

Is Jerzy Buzek the True Voice of EU’s Foreign Policy?

Fellow bloggers Kosmopolit and John Worth have already weighed in on the (lack of) reaction by the European Union on the events unfolding in Egypt. Their analysis of the relative inactivity of the EU’s institutions is worth reading.

What I would like to point out is that the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, was much more specific in addressing the situation in Egypt. He made a statement on Friday, 28 January, saying:

“The entire world is watching what is happening in Egypt tonight and will hold the authorities accountable for any inappropriate use of force or any innocent death. (…) I call on Egypt, as a partner country of the EU, to fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of their citizens.”

Now, this isn’t the first time Mr. Buzek has responded quickly with an unequivocal statement. He also addressed the violence against protesters in Belarus, specifically calling on Lukashenko to stop the violence. The High Representative remained silent on Belarus for a few days, too.

It should be clear that the High Representative cannot act before aligning positions of all Member States. It takes only one Member State – for example, Italy, to block a common position (art. 31 TEU). That is why Ashton is significantly restrained in her field of action.

It appears that Mr. Buzek’s statements are, in such situations, the only legitimate and decisive voice coming from the institutions of the European Union.



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.

Van Rompuy is the First President of the European Council

Herman van Rompuy has been appointed as the first President of the European Council – a new post created with the Treaty of Lisbon. In his first public appearance, he has outlined some of his priorities on the post:

  • Continuity, especially for multiannual dossiers such as the financial perspectives and the Lisbon Strategy;
  • Economic and social agenda;
  • Environmental and energy challenges;
  • Greater security and justice for the European citizens.

Interestingly, Mr. van Rompuy believes that “every country should emerge victorious from negotiations”. He also thinks that institutional debate in the EU “is closed for a long period”.

The post of High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy goes to Catherine Ashton. Her appointment will have to be approved by the European Parliament. Pierre de Boissieu will be the Secretary-General of the Council.

The reactions to these appointments are diverse. One thing is clear – both Mr. van Rompuy and Mrs. Ashton do not have substantial foreign policy experience.

Quentin Peel says that the choice shows what a powerful role the European parliament has come to play in EU politics. He also says that the immediate reaction in Washington was one of shock and disappointment. This somewhat contradicts the news that the US welcomes EU appointments. Andreas Ross says this is an example of old-school EU compromise. Christopher Bickerton says in an interview to the LA Times that “the whole thing has descended into farce…it’s made the European Union seem more of a joke than a reality.”

Van Rompuy Still Not “Consensual”

FT reports that there’s still no consensus on the election of the first President of the European Council. The newspaper says that the Swedish presidency is positioning Herman Van Rompuy as the leading candidate, but the difficulty remains to find a suitable candidate for the post of High Representative on the Foreign and Security Policy.



New EU Summit on November 19th

The Swedish presidency has called an EU summit on 19 November to decide on the posts of President of the European Council and High Representative on the foreign and security policy.

The summit will be in the format of an EU leaders’ dinner in Brussels and comes after two weeks of consultations between Stockholm and the other EU capitals.

Poland has an interesting proposal – to hold candidate hearings during the summit.