Changes in Europe’s diplomatic service are in full debate, with the advent of a new external relations position approaching, as referred to in the Lisbon Treaty, and the EU High Representative Javier Solana’s mandate closing this month. Main questions in discussion include involvement of various staffs working in trade, development and other areas.
The European Parliament’s President of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Carlo Casini, comments on the shaping of a more prominent diplomatic office: “The unitary character of the service, which has to encompass a whole series of activities today —dispersed among different commissioners and between the Council and the Commission — must find an activation as if the high commissioner were going to be a real foreign minister. I remember that in the constitutional treaty, which was not approved, in the wake of the French and Dutch referendums, the High Commissioner was called Europe’s foreign minister, to give foreign policy a unitary character. We have changed the name but the problems substance remain.” A parliament debate on the diplomatic service is planned for this Wednesday. The MEPs want it to be part of the European Commission’s structure, over which they exercise some oversight, rather than see it become a separate entity, as the EU member states would prefer.