September 18, 2012
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 EuropeiBlogactiv Team