Stanley's blog

Battle lines are being drawn over control of the European Union’s new diplomatic corps, which comes into being under the new Treaty of Lisbon. Should it be part of the Commission and under the direct control of Parliament? Should it be essentially intergovernmental, under the control of the Member States and the Council? Or should it be independent of both. The current debate in Germany reflects these three positions.

The treaty does not address the structure of the new body. It will be headed by the EU High Representative for foreign policy, who will also chair the Foreign Affairs Council ministers’ meetings and be a Vice-President of the Commission.

The issue is of considerable importance as the service will employ several thousand diplomats. The actual size has yet to be agreed – Germany wants a relatively large corps whereas France and the UK favour a smaller one. Substantial secondments from national diplomatic services are anticipated.

The nature and control of the External Action Service will have substantial influence on the future institutional balance. An intergovernmental solution would badly damage further EU integration.

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