Tuesday

28th Mar 2017

Germany attacks UK over EU diplomatic service

  • Catherine Ashton: "If we are able to act in a unified way on the world stage, we can safeguard our interests" (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Germany has in a leaked diplomatic note attacked what it sees as the UK's attempt to dominate the EU's emerging External Action Service.

The confidential foreign ministry document, obtained by the Guardian, the British daily, says that the UK has an "excessive" and "over-proportionate" role in the bloc's new foreign policy structures.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Excessive GB participation is evident," the note says. "Over-proportionate GB influence on the establishment and staffing is to be avoided."

The External Action Service (EAS) is to be headed by the EU's new foreign policy chief, British official Catherine Ashton, in a deal struck by member states last November.

Ms Ashton is currently drafting a proposal on the shape of the diplomatic corps with the help of a high-level steering group. The paper is due in April with no decisions made yet on top appointments. But the steering group itself has three British officials on its 13-strong team, compared to just one German.

Ms Ashton's private office, or "cabinet" in Brussels terms, is led by a former UK diplomat, James Morrison.

Meanwhile, another series of Brits is waiting in the wings to take over key elements of the EAS architecture: the EU commission's existing head of foreign delegations, Patrick Child; the chief of the EU Council's military committee, David Leakey; and the head of its intelligence-sharing bureau, William Shapcott.

The British roll-call was offset on Friday (26 February) by Ms Ashton's appointment of Denmark's ambassador to the EU, Poul Skytte Christoffersen, as a "special advisor" on the EAS.

But her relative inexperience and her regular trips to the UK, where she has her family home, have aggravated fears that she is open to manipulation by London.

While the over-arching proposal on the diplomatic corps has yet to be submitted to member states, Ms Ashton's team last week began circulating "vision papers" for the service.

One of the documents, seen by EUobserver, says the EAS "will help to make the EU common foreign and security policy a reality on the ground."

"We need to organise to be heard: if we are able to act in a unified way on the world stage, we can safeguard our interests. If not, others will make decisions for us," it adds.

The paper envisages having "desks for all countries and regions (regional organisations) in the world," as well as specialised units for human rights, democracy and security and defence.

The EAS is also to field its own security service and a "strong and substantive media operation" including internet-based communications on Twitter and Facebook.

Analysis

From Bratislava to Rome: Little more than a show of unity

The so-called Bratislava process of reflection for the EU came to an end on Saturday, but there were few tangible results that citizens could take away from the soul-searching. Despite that, unity among the EU-27 has been maintained.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Ombudsman probes secret Council lawmaking

Emily O'Reilly has launched an inquiry into whether the EU Council, where member states are represented, allows sufficient public scrutiny of the drafting of laws.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Opinion

Birthday wishes to the European Union

With the EU soon to celebrate its 60th birthday, there are still lingering questions about the bloc's future and whether there can be a change in fortune.

News in Brief

  1. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  2. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  3. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  4. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal
  5. EU majority against GM crops, but not enough to block them
  6. Turkish referendum voting starts in Europe
  7. Le Pen says she lacks election funds
  8. UN dinner for Cyprus leaders to restart stalled peace talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans