Catherine Ashton defends EEAS expenditure

European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton. Photo by: EU

Criticism continues to knock on the door of the European Union’s foreign relations arm. Most recently, its head, Catherine Ashton, was questioned yet again about the body’s spending.

Ashton has asked for an additional €25 million ($32.9 million) for the European External Action Service’s budget for 2012. She was asked to explain this request at a Feb. 2 appearance before the European Parliament, where one legislator expressed concern over the EEAS’ “mounting” structural cost despite Ashton’s earlier pledge that the body would have a neutral budget.

Ashton said the additional funds are needed to cover EEAS expenditure in Libya and other countries where the European Union had not been active until recently, and to support EEAS staff across the world.

“That requires resources which were not in the budget I inherited,” Ashton said, according to The Parliament. “I continue to look at ways to save money and not to have excessive expenditure. We try to be as cost efficient as we can, but there are expectations of the service.”

Budget and staffing concerns are two persisting issues surrounding EEAS. In December, 11 European foreign ministers blasted EEAS’ bureaucracy and management in a letter seen by the EU Observer, prompting a response by Ashton.

Meanwhile, Concord’s review of the service’s first year noted high points, such as the elevation of development cooperation on EEAS’ corporate board, and massive challenges, including the lack of a clear, “integrated vision.”

>> As EEAS turns 1, criticism remains

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.