19th Aug 2022

Plans to introduce EU foreign minister post early

  • Javier Solana - said to be interested in the job (Photo: Irish EU Presidency)

As the negotiations on the Constitution formally kick off again, behind the scenes talks are underway aimed at introducing the new post of EU foreign minister early.

Although the new position is not foreseen until 2009 when the new institutional changes for the European Commission are scheduled to come into force, ways are being examined to start the post during the next commission term, which begins in November.

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Referring to the difficulties involved with introducing the post earlier, a senior Irish diplomat said on Friday (14 May) "there are discussions out there about how all this should be choreographed".

Similarly, a Commission official remarked that "certainly there are some people who would like it to be possible".

Merger of roles

According to media reports, the EU's High Representative Javier Solana is said to be pushing both to get the job and have it introduced early and is set to raise the issue at a meeting of EU foreign ministers today in Brussels.

This will have big political and legal repercussions for other elements of the text.

The new foreign minister will combine the diplomatic role of Mr Solana with external relations Commissioner Chris Patten, who implements the EU's aid programmes.

The person would be vice-president of the European Commission and would chair the foreign affairs council.

The new EU foreign minister would alone represent the EU in foreign affairs - in contrast to today, where Mr Solana is also flanked by the foreign ministers of the country holding the rotating six-month presidency.

There is also a push to get the diplomatic machinery in place.

A new discussion text put forward by the Irish Presidency for discussion today suggests that setting up the diplomatic service for the foreign minister begins soon after the treaty is signed - which is set to be this year.

Aside from the new foreign minister post, member states will discuss several issues related to the possible extension of qualified majority voting in the Constitution before going on to discuss the more difficult institutional questions on Tuesday (18 May).

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