The selection of diplomats to serve as members of the European External Action Service is currently underway, with European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton in charge of the screening process.
Ashton has started interviewing some 90 shortlisted candidates from EU member states to fill slots for the EEAS top management team as well the mission chiefs for the service’s outposts in 30 countries, the Irish Times reports. The 30 mission chiefs will have ambassador-level positions.
As Devex reported, the European Council decided July 26 to support the establishment of the EEAS. The council also outlined the specific functions of the service, noting that it will be an autonomous body separate from the council’s General Secretariat and the European Commission.
Ashton was expected to announce her chosen candidates by the end of the week but a source close to her said the appointments will not be finalized until the end of August, the Irish Times says.
Aside from mission heads, Ashton is also filling the post of EEAS secretary-general, a budget and administration official and two deputy secretaries-general.
Other EEAS positions that Ashton is expected to fill over the next few months include 80 director-level positions.
The new service is under intense scrutiny after it was reported that an additional 55 million euros (USD71 million) is needed for its creation, as Devex reported. This revelation comes amid massive budget cuts and austerity measures being implemented by governments across Europe.