Thursday

27th Jul 2017

EU foreign ministers approve diplomatic service

EU foreign ministers on Monday (26 July) gave the nod to the overall structure of the Union's new diplomatic service, paving the way for chief of diplomacy Catherine Ashton to begin making appointments to the service that will employ thousands.

"It is historic to be able to witness the birth, at least at the decision level, of a European diplomacy," Belgian foreign minister Steven Vanackere, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency, said following the meeting.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The EU is hoping to project a more coherent and longterm foreign policy with the help of its diplomatic service (Photo: wikipedia)

Due to be on its feet by 1 December, the service will see Ms Ashton backed up by a secretary general - likely to be France's ambassador to the US Pierre Vimont - as well as two deputy secretaries general.

Monday's decision puts to rest a lengthy period of infighting between the EU institutions on the exact balance of power within the diplomatic service but opens the door to a power struggle between member states about who should land which posts within the service.

Ms Ashton is soon expected to announce a series of names for the heads of EU embassies abroad - including to prestigious countries such as China and Brazil. But appointments to key internal posts, such as the secretary general job, can only be made once the European Parliament has agreed new staffing rules, a move expected towards the end of September.

Writing in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, Ms Ashton said the new European External Action Service, despite its "ungainly" name, has a "bold and simple purpose: to give the EU a stronger voice around the world, and greater impact on the ground."

With the fight to have the service established largely over, the focus is now likely set on the extent to which member states, several of whom jealously guard their foreign policy prerogatives, will allow a coherent foreign policy to thrive.

Big countries have been keen to stress the service will not impinge on their foreign policy sovereignty, a point illustrated by the extent to which they are prepared to consider closing their own embassies in certain countries and use the EU embassy.

According to France's Europe minister, Pierre Lellouche, some countries may consider saving money through using EU embassy facilities but this should not be the case for France.

"I am the secretary of state, and I do not speak for France [but] I think it is desirable that France continues to maintain a global network. It is one of the few countries to do so, " he said, according to Le Monde.

Ms Ashton alluded to the difficulties in the article: "Our aim is to do foreign policy in a modern way, differently and better. Not to compete with or duplicate what our member states are doing, but to add value and play to our strength of acting as a union."

Drawing staff from the European Commission, the member states' council secretariat in Brussels and national diplomats, the service is expected to have around 6,000 personnel once it is fully up and running, expected to take another two or three years.

Ashton eyes October for decision on top jobs

Foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton is to shortly unveil the names of 31 new heads and deputy heads of EU delegations. But the 10 top jobs in the European External Action Service are to be doled out in October.

Opinion

Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis

If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

News in Brief

  1. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  2. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  3. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  4. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada
  5. US votes in favour of Nord Stream II sanctions
  6. Greece makes return to bond market
  7. Trump accuses the EU of protectionism
  8. EU parliament's Brexit group urges progress on talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way

Latest News

  1. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  2. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis
  3. EU and US scrap on Russia sanctions gets worse
  4. Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles have one month to start taking migrants
  5. EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7
  6. Court told to 'dismiss' case against EU migrant quotas
  7. Russia's EU pipeline at 'risk' after US vote
  8. EU Commission to act on Poland