The creation of the EEAS is one of the most significant changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. Its aim is to make EU’s external policy more consistent and efficient, thereby strengthening EU’s political and economic influence in the world.
This new service is aimed at assisting the High Representative of the Union of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, in fulfilling her mandate.
EEAS shall include officials from the Council and the Commission, as well as staff from the national diplomatic services of the 27 EU Member States. It will work in close cooperation with the national diplomatic services of the member states and its delegations outside EU, playing a supporting role regarding diplomatic and consular protection and help of EU citizens in third countries.
Jointly with the European Parliament the service is expected to get up and running as soon as possible. The Council shall adopt the launching of the EEAS on a proposal from the High Representative after consulting the EP and getting an approval from the Commission. The necessary financial and staff regulations, as well as the draft amending budget shall be adopted by co-decision with the EP.
From the 1st of January, 2011, 1525 officials from the office of the Secretary General of the Commission and Council shall be sent to the external action service. There is also an additional 100 newly created posts. In the EEAS there are 1625 posts altogether. The service shall comprise one central administrating unit and 136 formal European Commission’s delegations. The Service headquarters is in Brussels.
Despite the fact that the “double-hatted” HR promised that “the recruitment will be based on merit, with the objective of securing the services of staff of the highest standard of ability, efficiency and integrity, while ensuring adequate geographical balance”, it is now clear that in reality so far there is no such balance regarding the appointment of officials. Naturally it has created a lot of disapproval among the MEPs and debates on the matter are ongoing.
Indeed, it is in the member state’s interest to, for example, present more female candidates for the senior overseas jobs. At the moment, only 11 out of the 115 ambassadors are female. 11 member states are over-represented while 16 are under-represented.
Only two of the newly appointed 115 ambassadors are from EU new member states, and sadly enough, no Estonians among them. Candidates’ language skills, diplomatic job experience just did not reach the threshold of requirements for the posts. Also, alas, the new member states’ geographic position might have not been of advantage.
Catherine Ashton has voiced her criticism about this, talking about the creation of a “Western European old boys club” diplomatic service.
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