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EU Building-up Joint Diplomatic Service

  • January 22nd, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

ashton_headshot.jpgThe European Union is pushing ahead with the formation of its own diplomatic service, adding further substance to the joint foreign and security policy arrangements put in place under the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.

The treaty agreements had a rocky road to implementation, with amongst other things, abandonment of the idea of having an EU Foreign Minister, in name.

In the event an EU presidency, also foreshadowed, was achieved, low key and in effect, in the role of the regular President of the Council (in the person of Herman Van Rompuy); and for “foreign minister”, the Treaty created the post of  EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission – in the person of the English Baroness Catherine Ashton (picture).

Likewise the diplomatic service, with European Union ambassadors and diplomatic missions in support of agreed, joint EU initiatives, has the oblique title of “External Action Service”.

Yet it is going ahead with large resources, outlining the coming phase in a statement on 21.1.11.

Statement from EU on its diplomatic service:

The European External Action Service entered a new phase on 1 January 2011 with the transfer of staff from Council and Commission. Altogether 1643 permanent officials have been transferred to the new service, bringing on board their expertise and experience. With this transfer the EEAS, launched on 1 December 2010, is taking another decisive step.

“The service will mark a new beginning for European foreign and security policy as we bring together and streamline all of the Union’s existing resources, staff and instruments. We will also receive a fresh injection of talent and skills as we incorporate Member States’ diplomats into our team. This combination of staff and resources will be more than the sum of its parts: we will be able to find synergies and develop new ideas, which will enhance our ability to act more creatively and decisively in an increasingly challenging world,” said Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative …


An important spin-off of the changes going on will be that citizens and businesses from small counties (the majority of the EU) will have access to diplomatic services virtually everywhere; never possible for them on the model of national representation only.


Delegation of the EU to Australia, Canberra, “European External Action Service …”, 21.1.11., (21.1.11).