The Early Days of the European External Action Service: A Practitioner’s View

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
David Spence London School of Economics Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE United Kingdom

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The proposal to create the European External Action Service (EEAS) seemed to be an acceptance by the European Union’s political elites that, in the post-Westphalian world, more attention needed to be given to collective European diplomacy rather than individual national diplomacy. Yet there was no guarantee that existing officials, whether from EU institutions or from the EU member states, would easily accept the related diplomatic norms and values. Melding different epistemic communities into one effective new diplomatic community is not a foregone conclusion. Europe’s new diplomatic service ‘an sich’ is not a diplomatic service ‘für sich’. While creating a team with a spirit of unity was the formal goal, ambiguities in the Lisbon Treaty’s articles on the EEAS have facilitated a major reassertion of bureaucratic politics, which are destined to keep Westphalian diplomacy alive and to produce even more turf battles and complexity. The mind-sets of the component parts of the EEAS are so diverse that, without serious discussion of these issues and concentrated training, creating a new European diplomacy will be difficult.

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