By applying the rational choice principal–agent model, this article examines the European Union member states’ principal control of the European External Action Service (eeas) agent. More specifically, the article applies mechanisms of agency monitoring, control and sanctions that are inherent in the principal–agent model to analyse the establishment and functioning of the eeas. These mechanisms aim to ensure the eeas’s compliance with its mandate, thereby curtailing its ability to pursue own objectives that are independent from the principal. The findings reveal that the eeas is tightly controlled by the eu member states. Moreover the European Commission has tools to exercise horizontal checks vis-à-vis the eeas. The application of the principal–agent model to control the eeas is not without its limits. The model falls short of conceptualizing the role of the European Parliament, which remains an outlier to this model.
Michael E. Smith, ‘The European External Action Service and the Security–Development Nexus: Organizing for Effectiveness or Incoherence?’Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 20, no. 9 (2013), pp. 1299-1315.
Council of the European Union, ‘Council Decision of 26 July 2010 Establishing the Organization and Functioning of the European External Action Service’, Official Journal of the European Union(2010), L 201/30-40, art. 9(1).
Wisniewski, ‘The Influence of the European Parliament on the European External Action Service’; and Kolja Raube, ‘The European External Action Service and the European Parliament’, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, vol. 7, no. 1 (2011), pp. 65-80; Interviews, May, June and July 2011.