Friday

16th Nov 2018

France and Germany eye top job in EU diplomatic corps

  • Mr Vimont at a food and wine festival in the US (Photo: SETH BROWARNIK/RED EYE PRODUCTIONS)

With plans for the EU's new diplomatic corps entering their final stage, EU capitals have quietly begun to negotiate over who will take the top jobs up for grabs.

The office of EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton is aiming to submit a draft organigram for the External Action Service (EAS) to EU diplomats in Brussels on 17 March.

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

According to an EU official acquainted with the document, Ms Ashton's office wants the service to have nine senior posts: A secretary general, two deputy secretary generals and, below them, six director generals.

At the top of the hierarchy, Ms Ashton will mainly do shuttle diplomacy on the model of her predecessor, Javier Solana, who clocked up over 2.6 million air miles in his 10 years in office. The EU's 11 "special representatives," such as Marc Otte on the Middle East, will report directly to her.

The secretary general is to stay in Brussels and run the EAS on a day-to-day basis.

He will oversee the work of the six director generals and a number of autonomous EAS cells: the EU's Military Staff, responsible for planning overseas military missions; SitCen, an intelligence-sharing bureau; an internal security unit; an internal audit unit and a department handling communications and relations with other EU institutions.

The two deputy secretary generals will not have administrative duties, freeing them up to replace Ms Ashton at internal EU meetings or second-tier international events.

EU capitals are wary of openly lobbying for their candidates due to the accepted wisdom that early runners do not finish first.

But diplomatic sources say that the French ambassador to the US, Pierre Vimont, the secretary general of the French foreign ministry, Pierre Sellal, and a senior aide to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Christoph Heusgen, are the current favourites for the secretary general job.

Messrs Vimont and Sellal both have strong EU credentials, having served as France's ambassadors to the union during two previous French EU presidencies, in 2000 and 2008, respectively. Mr Heusgen was the top political advisor to Mr Solana.

The argument in favour of a French candidate is that French official Pierre de Boissieu, who currently runs the EU Council, will cede his place to a German official, Uwe Corsepius, in 2011. "We have a lot of good candidates for all the levels of the service. But it's premature to talk about these issues," a French diplomat said.

On the other hand, French EU official Christine Roger is already being lined up to become president of the EU's Political and Security Committee, a senior EU Council body handling security decisions. Germany has got little by way of top jobs in the new-look EU so far, with its EU commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, taking the medium-weight energy portfolio.

"It would be a bad sign of Germany's level of interest in EU foreign policy if it does not have a senior figure in the EAS," an EU diplomat said.

Meanwhile, Sweden's EU ambassador, Christian Danielsson, is being talked about as a possible deputy secretary general.

Six pillars

The six director generals will each run a department composed of several hundred officials, forming the main pillars of the EAS architecture.

One directorate is to take care of budget and personnel. A second one is to handle "global affairs" such as climate change, human rights and democracy promotion. A third one is to manage EU relations with multilateral bodies, such as the UN and the G20, as well as legal and consular affairs.

The remaining three are to be split on geographical lines: A fourth directorate is to cover EU neighbourhood countries, accession candidates, Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East. A fifth one is to span industrialised countries such as the US, Canada, Mexico, China, Japan and Australia. The sixth one is to take care of developing countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Ocean.

The European Commission and the European Parliament are also circulating draft organigrams with competing ideas for the EAS structure. "There's probably a draft organigram on every floor of every EU building in Brussels," another EU diplomat said.

The newer EU member states are pushing for senior EAS posts to be open to a free competition based on merit. But it is clear that the top nine appointments will be political decisions.

An EU official told this website that new member states can realistically aim to fill some of the director general-level posts only. The contact added that Polish centre-right MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski and the director of the Diplomatic Academy in Warsaw, Andrzej Ananincz, are in the frame.

Exclusive

EU commission redacted too much in 'WiFi4EU' papers

Secretariat-general of the European Commission decides that information redacted by directorate-general Communications Networks, Content and Technology should have been made public.

Mogherini's tech experts talk more freely in secret

The EU's foreign service says there are no "records" of the Global Tech Panel meetings, but acknowledged foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini writes summary letters. Five MEPs worried about killer robots suggest the panel's composition is skewed.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

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. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

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