The EU's External Action Service: Will it Deliver?
The European External Action Service (EEAS), set up on January 1, 2011, will help the European Union create a coherent and effective external policy by bringing together the EU’s “soft” trade and aid policy tools and its member state-driven foreign policy. EEAS Chief Catherine Ashton builds on a growing member state ethos of cooperating on foreign policy issues, but legal limits, the need for unanimity and institutional difficulties will constrain her. Combining parts of the Commission, Council Secretariat, and member state diplomats into the EEAS raises cultural and professional issues only time can resolve, while the Commission and the Council Secretariat will need to supplement the steps they’ve taken to adapt to the new institutional reality and ensure the policy coherence the EU desires. An increasingly assertive European Parliament enlivens the policy debate. The global community needs a more effective EU on the world stage, and should help nurture the EEAS, rather than criticize it prematurely.