CLEER WP 2010/7 - Van Vooren
A legal-institutional perspective on the European External Action Service
Bart Van Vooren
It is beyond doubt that setting up the European External Action Service will have a deep impact on EU external policy making. Both in legal and policy terms, this new player thoroughly changes the institutional balance in EU external relations. The goal of this paper is to examine the legal side of that coin, by exploring the legal and institutional nature and position of the EEAS in the EU’s external relations machinery. To that end, it queries the meaning of the EEAS’ sui generis status in the EU institutional set-up: what does it mean to say that the EEAS is ‘functionally autonomous’ from the Council and Commission? What are the implications of its absence of legal personality? What are its formal powers – if any, and could the EEAS be subject or object of Court proceedings? Against the backdrop of seeking answers to these questions, the paper then queries to which extent the legal choices on the nature of the EEAS still reflect the age-old tension entrenched in EU external relations law: the EU’s nature as an internally diverse entity, which seeks to present a coherent Union voice to the world.