Given the very long pregnancy and current birthing problems, many commentators voice pessimism about the EU External Action Service. First among the Cassandras are journalists, not always imune to cynicism, and sometimes confusing soundbites and trends. While I like many of them, I am more optimistic, also based on personal experience and anecdotes.

( One example – but at least it is articulate – is David Rennies ‘Global Europe‘ in the last issue of E-Sharp.
Just now, people focus on country quotas (understandably: an internal EAS document shows huge discrepancies between a few large Western States and most others in fulfilling their quotas).
Are quotas problems due to ‘selecting the best and brightest’? 🙂
On EurActiv, you can follow the steps toward the new EAS. Notably in this interview of one of the cooks, Barroso / Ashton appointee Joao Vale de Almeida, )

One typically underestimate the time it takes to get anything done in the EU … while underating its capacity to eventually achieve things. It was the same with the internal market, with the Euro, with enlargement, and now with the diplomatic service.

One does not exclude the other, but I believe lasting institutions are built on people as much as legal texts. Education, common experiences, learning from mistakes and external challenges will progressively create an esprit de corps, nearly as strong as the national ones.

National diplomatic services are the parents of the new EAS, they are not clear yet about the baby’s future but won’t prevent it from growing.

So, let’s not throw the baby with the bathwater.

The offspring cannot speak? Let him learn from his parents!
He cannot write his own views? Let him go to school first!

His parents had been flirting for a long time. They were never quite monogamous: there are already some half-sisters, living in Geneva, New York, Paris, Prague etc. Now the parents signed and marry for good, but temptations do not go away, just like one does not drop old friends.

The kid is crying and kicking, as are others in the maternity ward. But don’t worry: the genes are good, the parents do care and education will help. There will be several siblings: all compete for mom and dad’s attention, but all carry the family values.

The parents disagree on some choices, such as passport and languages. So, the family counsel and the orientation council (also called EP) insist that the kid shall not follow in mom or dad’s steps, but become an adult on its own. And divorce is out of question.

Overtime, the child’s choices will not results from parents’ compromises but on his own skills. One day, the teenager will rebel against the parents. But still carry the family values. And in due course inherit and manage the family estate.

Let the baby grow and give it time!

Christophe Leclercq

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  1. Obviously as the largest economic power in the world, the EU should have adequate diplomatic representation. It is therefore not a question of what is preferable but what is realistic and well-founded. The European Economic Community succeeded in creating a foreign policy (for example having a single policy for GATT or WTO) only because it was based on s supranational Community. The European Coal and Steel Community did this in the years before this.
    It is a big step back from a supranational Community system to pure internationalism or inter-governmentalism as contained in the Lisbon Treaty. Suprantional Community diplomatic representation is based on sound, long-lasting principles and the European rule of law. Intergovernmentalism rests on the shaky sand of governments, who at every election or collpase of coalition, change their policy positions.
    Conclusion: A solid European diplomatic representation needs to be based on an -in-depth supranational Community system. Further Communities need to be created such as a democratic and supranational Energy Community to tackle the most urgent planetary problems facing Europe.

  2. I regret, Christoff, that I am one of your pessimists
    I agree that it will take a long time
    The Lisbon Treaty anticipated that the perapatory work would be done before the treaty entered into force, but it was not
    What is upsetting is the turf wars between the EU institutions and between Brussels and the national capitals
    The EEAS must be a meritocracy
    The manner in which the Washington pst was filled does not encourage this perception
    Stanley Crossick

  3. I tend to agree with Stanley. EEAS preparation was a missed opportunity, as EU leaders had no courage to proceed, holding their breath ahead of the second Irish referendum.

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