The Guest Blog

By Dan Luca

Recently the European Policy Centre organised an interesting event on reviewing the European External Action Service (EEAS). One of the panelists was David O’Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of the EEAS, involved with the development of the EEAS from the start in 2011. He said: “these days prime ministers can text each other; therefore the role of the ministries and ambassadors has diminished. That’s the new reality”. It is fascinating to see how the public figures in national foreign policy have shifted from the foreign ministers and their ministries to the heads of states.

Previously I posted on the lack of visibility of the EEAS, and the need to find a balance to carry out one ‘European’ foreign policy, while still keeping the traditional national foreign policy channels running. The latter still plays a big part in the practical challenges the EEAS faces and was touched upon by O’Sullivan as well when he emphasized that “the EEAS [isn’t] supposed to replace the national foreign policies, but to complement them.”

A particularly interesting development over the last year is the role that the crisis played in strengthening the EEAS and in particular the buy-in they need from the Member States. The EEAS must demonstrate added value. The crisis may help in this regard. The colocation of embassies and pooling resources has become not just fashionable, but a necessity”, O’Sullivan pointed out.

In short, the EEAS is doing well – it’s doing better each day in fact, but they still have a long way to go.

Dan LUCA, Casa Europei

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Comments

  1. I think the main problem with EEAS is that there is neither a sovereign national nor a federal state behind it. It tries to represent the EU without having it’s own resources to give emphasis to its actions.

    The perament coexistance of the National Foreign Ministries and the EEAS is simply not effective. I believe in a common EU foreign policy but in order to achieve it, European Foreign Ministers ought to make serius concessions.

    I admit the growing role of social media (head of governments can text to each other) but it has nothing to do with diplomats: Foreign Ministers, even attachés can text each other. Sovereign States will need facilitators to communicate with each other and these facilitators can be the Foreign Ministries.

    In conclusion, as long as EEAS only complement the national foreign policies we cannot talk about a real, independent and common EU foreign policy.

  2. Nice post, just found your blog on my travels around the Internet. Definitely will come back.

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