The European External Action Service officially commenced its operation on Wednesday (Dec. 1), enabling European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton to meet her self-imposed 12-month deadline of getting the diplomatic corps up and running.
“This is not about creating the 28th Member State foreign policy, it’s about recognizing that the things that we do as 27. It’s about speaking the same message and being more effective in the world. If you are thinking about economic prosperity for citizens you need better trade deals. We do trade deals as 27, so more economic power. If you are thinking about some of the big foreign policy questions, security and stability in the world, the effects of climate change, then acting and speaking together we can achieve more,” Ashton told Euronews.
The launch, however, was “muted” due to problems in cash flow triggered by a row over a planned increase of the bloc’s budget for next year.
“Things will not go as smoothly as expected due to delays with some of the initial spending needed to get the [EEAS] up and running. For example, funds are being held up to fit security measures to the new headquarter offices and for 80 new posts in the delegations and a further 20 in Brussels, which had been expected to be at the hiring stage by now,” according to Chiade O’Shea of Europolitics.