Monday 23 November 2009

EU Lisbon Treaty implementation: European diplomatic service EEAS

At this stage, the second basic document regarding Lisbon Treaty implementation is the report on guidelines for the future European diplomatic service, more exactly the European External Action Service (EEAS). The member states started work on the EEAS without waiting for a proposal from the High Representative.

Now that the HR has been (s)elected, the invitation to present a formal (detailed) proposals lies waiting for Catherine Ashton.

The presidency conclusions of the European Council 29 to 30 October 2009 (document 15265/09) had this to say about the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty (point 3, page 2):

“The European Council --- It endorses the Presidency's report on guidelines for the European External Action Service (doc. 14930/09) and invites the future High Representative to present a proposal for the organisation and functioning of the EEAS as soon as possible after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty with a view to its adoption by the Council at the latest by the end of April 2010. In this context, it also recognises the need, as underlined in the European Security Strategy, for the European Union to become more capable, more coherent and more strategic as a global actor, including in its relations with strategic partners, in its neighbourhood and in conflict-affected areas.”


EEAS report

The Presidency report to the European Council on the European External Action Service (23 October 2009, document 14930/09) comprises 34 points on 10 pages.

In this blog post, we are content to quote the last point (34) on the way forward, which offers an overview of the following stages of implementation:


34. There will be several stages before reaching the final shape of the EEAS. The Council will be fully involved throughout the whole process.

• A first stage from the entry into force of the Treaty to the adoption of the Council decision on the organisation and functioning of the EEAS. The HR should submit his/her proposal with a view to it being adopted at the latest by the end of April 2010. For that reason it is of key importance that preparatory work should continue at full speed within the current format in the run up to the entry into force of the Treaty. From the start, as well as having the immediate support of the external relations structures of the Commission and of the GSC, he/she will be supported by a small preparatory team which should be composed of representatives of Member States, Commission and GSC. In parallel to preparations for that decision, work must be carried out to make the relevant adaptations in existing rules, such as the Staff and Financial Regulations with a view to their adoption at the same time as the Council decision on the organisation and functioning of the EEAS. Close contacts with the European Parliament should be continued during this stage.

• A second stage for setting up the EEAS, from the adoption of the Council decision to full cruising speed. A first status report should be made in 2012.

• When the EEAS has been functioning for some time at full speed, there should be a review of the functioning and organisation of the EEAS followed, if necessary, by a revision of the decision. This review should also cover the scope of the EEAS, including delegations' role in consular affairs. Such a review should take place in 2014.


Legal base

The legal base, which is mentioned in the presidency report, is Article 27(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), but we take the opportunity to quote the whole Article 27 TEU, which offers an outline of the tasks of the newly elected high representative (OJEU 9.5.2008 c 115/32):

Article 27 TEU

1. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who shall chair the Foreign Affairs Council, shall contribute through his proposals towards the preparation of the common foreign and security policy and shall ensure implementation of the decisions adopted by the European Council and the Council.

2. The High Representative shall represent the Union for matters relating to the common foreign and security policy. He shall conduct political dialogue with third parties on the Union's behalf and shall express the Union's position in international organisations and at international conferences.

3. In fulfilling his mandate, the High Representative shall be assisted by a European External Action Service. This service shall work in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States and shall comprise officials from relevant departments of the General Secretariat of the Council and of the Commission as well as staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States. The organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service shall be established by a decision of the Council. The Council shall act on a proposal from the High Representative after consulting the European Parliament and after obtaining the consent of the Commission.


Formidable challenges lie in wait for the EU’s chief diplomat, Catherine Ashton.

Ralf Grahn

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  1. I will be interesting to see how Baroness Ashton gets on in her hearing before the EP.

    (Is there a podcast, or similar, of such hearings that I could tap into - as a "fly-on-the-wall"?).

  2. French Derek,

    She has passed once (in practice), when she took over from Mandelson, formally the whole Commission is approved or rejected as a body, and despite the European Parliament's interest to enhance its role, a unanimous decision by the national (party) leaders might temper urges to overturn the cart. Especially the socialists & democrats group may feel implicated, since their leaders were responsible for the de facto nomination.

    I am not sure if the hearings are closed or open. You'll have to check the EP's programme when they are about to start.

  3. French Derek,

    Here is a link to EUbusiness on hearings:


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