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EEAS and EU’s diplomacy

January 12, 2011

The European External Action Service (EEAS) entered into a new phase on January 1st with transfer of staff from the Council and the Commission to EEAS. The new service, which was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, should help the EU to speak with one voice and conduct a more “ambitious, effective, coherent and visible” foreign policy. This is what Catherine Ashton said about EEAS in the press release

“The service will mark a new beginning for European foreign and security policy as we bring
together and streamline all of the Union’s existing resources, staff and instruments. We will also receive a fresh injection of talent and skills as we incorporate Member States’ diplomats into our team. This combination of staff and resources will be more than the sum of its parts: we will be able to find synergies and develop new ideas, which will enhance our ability to act more creatively and decisively in an increasingly challenging world.”

An interesting observation about the role of EEAS and the public diplomacy component was made by David Hannay in this article where he comments that

“the demands of public diplomacy are clearly overtaking those of the more classical diplomatic tasks, and will require an effective response from the EEAS if it is not to find itself playing second fiddle to national diplomats who have increasingly been getting to grips with this new dimension.”

The idea behind EEAS is not to replace but to complement EU member states’ national embassies. With regards to small states, it will be interesting to see how EEAS will affect the (public) diplomacy of smaller EU members and how will smaller states be represented in this new structure.

More about EEAS, its role and challenges it faces can be found in this article published by Clingendael Institute.

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