Saturday

17th Feb 2018

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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Agenda

ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK

EU leaders will gather to begin talking about the 2019 election process and the post-2020 budget, while eurozone finance ministers will ponder choosing the next European Central Bank deputy chief.

Baltic states demand bigger EU budget

The leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania say in a joint letter that they are open to talks on creating "new own resources" for a bigger EU budget after the UK leaves the EU.

Agenda

ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK

EU leaders will gather to begin talking about the 2019 election process and the post-2020 budget, while eurozone finance ministers will ponder choosing the next European Central Bank deputy chief.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses 'no danger'
  2. Spanish king in Barcelona next week
  3. Turkey jails journalists for life
  4. Make budget cuts in farm and regional funds, the Dutch say
  5. UN: Hungary's anti-migration bill is 'assault on human rights'
  6. Journalist Deniz Yucel freed in Turkey
  7. New organic farming bill not ready until late spring
  8. Commissioner: Western Balkans in EU is 'obvious'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  2. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  3. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  4. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  6. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  7. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  8. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  10. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  11. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  12. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections

Latest News

  1. EU asks charities to explain anti-abuse measures
  2. ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK
  3. EU states stay mute on implementation of mercury bill
  4. Baltic states demand bigger EU budget
  5. Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills
  6. EU ties Brexit transition talks to divorce agreement
  7. EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement
  8. Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU