Friday

16th Nov 2018

Turkey and China host biggest EU outposts

Staff numbers at embassies highlight EU interest in Turkey, China, the Western Balkans and in multilateral bodies, as well as member states' ongoing reliance on bilateral diplomacy.

The EU's top 10 delegations in terms of staff numbers are: Ankara (137), Beijing/Hong Kong (116), Moscow (102), Belgrade (100), Ramallah/Tel Aviv (97), Kiev (93), Sarajevo (92), New Delhi (87), Washington (86) and Nairobi (85).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Ashton arriving in China last October (Photo: ec.eruopa.eu)

The EU also has 187 people posted to various branches of the UN, the WTO, the African Union, the OECD economic club and democracy watchdogs the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

One year after the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS), big member states still outgun EU institutions in diplomatic firepower.

The UK has 270 people in Washington, 245 in Beijing and 230 in Moscow. France has 421 in Washington, 305 in Beijing and 224 in the Russian capital. When it comes to lobbying EU institutions and Nato, the US has 650 staff in Brussels.

The numbers do not tell the whole story.

Member states' embassies include diplomats and consular staff. The EU does not do consular work, while its delegations house both EEAS and European Commission people, who take care of enlargement and development aid.

In prospective EU entrants and in poor countries EEAS diplomats are outnumbered by commission officials. In Turkey, the split is 22/115. In Kenya, it is 26/59.

But enlargement and aid are highly political, creating a net result in terms of Brussels' influence abroad.

Looking at staff who answer to EEAS chief Catherine Ashton alone, the top 10 is different: Washington (56), Moscow (46), Tokyo (36), China (30), Ramallah/Tel Aviv (29), Conakry (26), New Delhi (26), Nairobi (26), Bangkok (23) and Ankara (22).

'Barbados might sound nice'

An EU official admitted that some of the numbers look funny but said there are good reasons.

The EU has 43 people in Barbados, 33 in remote Fiji and 77 in Nicaragua, recently prompting MEPs to ask if they are just enjoying the sunshine.

The Barbados mission also covers 10 local mini-states, such as St. Lucia or Anguilla, while Fiji covers all the micro-states in the Pacific Ocean.

"Barbados might sound very nice but staff spend lots of time travelling and work very hard ... Fiji covers a geographic area larger than the territories of the 27 EU countries," the official said.

Some places use lots of locally-hired staff because working conditions - such as driving from place to place - are tricky (Ashton has two diplomats and 24 local staff in Conakry).

The Nicaragua mission was set up to co-ordinate regional aid after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, but is now out of date.

Ashton and the commission are planning to reshuffle overseas personnel after 2013.

The EU official said Ashton will probably open a new embassy in one of the Persian Gulf states already this year (the EU has just 14 people in Saudi Arabia and nobody in Qatar or the United Arab Emirates) and send more people to north Africa.

On the commission side, there is to be a shift from Latin America and Asia to Africa.

Iran embassy not out of the question

The EEAS on Thursday (26 April) signed an "establishment agreement" - a template for diplomatic relations - for a new embassy in Burma. Iran is a future possibility if tensions relax. North Korea is beyond the pale, however.

The official noted that member states have shown "enthusiasm" for bunching up some of their embassies with the EEAS in single compounds, called "Europe houses," to save money.

Several EU countries already operate out of the same building in Tanzania, with talks under way for a pan-EU compound in Afghanistan.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us