The European External Action Service one year on

On 22 December 2011, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton presented a report to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the ‘functioning of the [European External Action] Service  in the first year of  its operation as well as challenges for the future’. Since then, numerous organisations have given their assessments of the EEAS one year on.

In its December 2011 report entitled ‘A Diplomatic Entrepreneur: Making the Most of the European External Action Service‘, Chatham House concluded that  the EU faced three challenges if it was to make the most of the EEAS’ potential: strategy, leadership and delivery.

Also in December, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace‘s report entitled ‘More Action, Better Service: How to strengthen the European External Action Service‘ provided that the EEAS had ‘an insufficient resource base’ and that there was ‘a lack of genuine buy-in on the part of both the member states and the European Commission’.

The critical view of the EEAS which had been expressed by 12 EU foreign ministers in an informal paper in December 2011 was the subject of an article on the EUObserver website on 6 January 2012.

The EEAS one year on was also the subject of an article and an editorial which appeared in the European Voice on 5 January 2012. There followed letters from Oxfam International, which argued that the difficulties faced by the EEAS in its first year were symptomatic of poor coordination between the EU institutions, and a lack of political will on the part of a number of EU member states; and CONCORD Europe, which argued that the EEAS had failed to integrate development policy within its service. (NB/ Subscription may be required to download content from the European Voice website)

On 10 January 2012, CONCORD also published a report entitled ‘EEAS one year on: “Work in progress” for poverty eradication‘ and an accompanying press release with the heading ‘EEAS marginalises anti-poverty objectives in EU foreign policy’.

On 12 January, the Head of Oxfam International‘s EU Office, Natalia Alonso, published an opinion piece on the EUObserver website in which she argued that EU High Representative Ashton needed to ‘lay out a vision that pinpoints where the EU wants to be in 2015 and maps out the road to get there’.

In the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) ‘Talking Point’ blog post entitled ‘On the EEAS’ 1st birthday: have EU-Africa relations benefitted from the past year?‘ (13 January 2012), Andrew Sherriff concluded that the EEAS ‘has not had a bad start in relation to Africa ‘ but that numerous challenges remain in 2012.

In a blog post entitled ‘The European External Action Service (EEAS) one year on‘, (16 January 2012), the Quaker Council for European Affairs‘ (QCEA) Brussels Representative, Martina Weitsch, argued that ‘ the top brass of the European Union’s Foreign Policy have been bogged down in managing a large scale organisational transition’ which has ‘undermined the ability of the EU to be seen as a global actor of consequence’.

In its January 2011 policy paper entitled ‘Fit for Purpose? The European External Action Service one year one‘, Oxfam International argued that ‘the procedural problems and structural weaknesses that have come to light are yet to be addressed’ and that ‘not all the Member States have genuinely co-operated with the EEAS to allow the EU to speak with one coherent voice.’

The European Policy Centre (EPC) published an issue paper entitled ‘The European External Action Service at work: How to improve EU foreign policy’ (January 2012) which, according to the executive summary, is not ‘a critique of the first year of the EEAS’ but rather an analysis of  ‘the opportunities that can be seized to ensure that the EEAS plays a role in improving the EU’s foreign policy’.

And finally, the EEAS’ Chief Operating Officer, David O’Sullivan, responded to some of the above in an opinion piece which was published on TheParliament website on 6 February 2012.

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