The newly launched European External Action Service may undermine the European Union’s development priorities, an expert says.
There are fears that EU’s development priorities may be overtaken by the goal of EEAS to promote the bloc’s strategic and economic interests, according to Romina Vegro, an EU policy officer for Bond, a U.K.-based membership body for development-related non-governmental organizations.
“There is particular concern around statements made by [EU foreign affairs chief] Ashton around her intention to focus her new department’s actions on fragile states, paralleling the stated priorities of the US and UK governments. This may be understandable, but it risks diminishing the EU’s established development work in sub-Saharan Africa, for example. The approach may also effect the EU’s other related priorities like gender equality and human rights – only yesterday Human Rights Watch called on Ashton to ensure the new diplomatic service is equipped to carry out the EU’s commitments on human rights and international law,” Vegro writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog.
On paper, Piebalgs still has a say on EU’s development agenda.
“Yet, the EEAS is now in charge of mapping out the way the EU deals with the world. If there are internal disputes over EU strategy towards a particular country, or even a particular region, it’s not clear whose decision would be final,” Vegro notes.
In June, several European NGOs threatened to sue the EU in view of alleged proposals to incorporate development into the work of EEAS. They later withheld their plans after the European Parliament decreed that development policy will remain independent of the bloc’s foreign policy.
>> No NGO Lawsuit on European External Action Service