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New EU diplomatic service builds bridgehead

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New EU diplomatic service builds bridgehead

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The EU’s first diplomatic service chain of command is being prepared for imminent assembly. The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, according to notes by the current Spanish EU Presidency, will be the appointing authority for EEAS staff… the European External Action Service.

Analyst Antonio Missiroli, with the European Policy Centre, describes the tightrope Ashton has to walk — accounting for the wishes of governments (the Council) and the European Commission:

“It is very difficult to find the ‘silver bullet’ — the one solution which will solve a number of different issues. Probably, it will have to be balanced, for instance: if a degree of autonomy is left to the civil and military crisis management structures in the Council, then a degree of autonomy will have to be left to the development aid and humanitarian agency in the Commission. That is probably one way of achieving a compromise.”

The EU institutional and nation-state jockeying for high-profile positions adds to the challenge of meeting an April 30 deadline for the plan. The new External Action Service, created under the Lisbon Treaty, is expected to employ some 3,000 diplomats, total personnel adding up to around 8,000 — ready for deployment in the second half of this year.