The Emergence of the European External Action Service: A Belgian Perspective     Print Email
Tuesday, 09 November 2010

On November 9, 2010, Jean-Arthur Régibeau, Political Director of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offered his perspective on the emergence of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and its impact on the transatlantic relationship. Under Belgium’s rotating Presidency of the European Union, implementation of the Lisbon Treaty has been a top priority, and the steady evolution of the EEAS is a notable accomplishment. High Representative Catherine Ashton has selected her senior management team, which will lead the formation of a European diplomatic corps; a process which Mr. Régibeau estimated will take three to four years. Members of the EEAS will consist of highly-qualified officials from all of the EU institutions and Member States, and it will aim to have a fair representation of men and women, as well as diplomats from each Member State. They will report directly to the High Representative; a line of command that Mr. Régibeau argued will provide a unifying element and allow the service to be more than the sum of its parts. However, he cautioned, the commensurate evolution of a common European foreign policy may take as long as a decade. In time, however, the EEAS and its mpact on the EU’s foreign policy may eventually be comparable to that of the European Monetary Union.