CLEER WP 2012/1 - Erkelens & Blockmans

Setting up the European External Action Service: An institutional act of balance


Leendert Erkelens & Steven Blockmans

This paper provides an analysis of the process of setting up the European External Action Service (EEAS) in the period between October 2009 and the beginning of January 2011. The focus is on the way the (European) Council, the Commission and the European Parliament anticipated the emergence of the position of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) and how they conducted negotiations on the creation of the EEAS. Their respective objectives are unveiled, as well as the way they made use of legal instruments and bureaucratic methods to reach those goals. The argument will be made that the impact of the dynamics generated by the inter-institutional gravitational fi eld played a larger role in defi ning each actor’s actions than the pursuit of the constitutional principles of coherence and effectiveness of EU external action. Looking at the outcome of the negotiations and the positioning of the EEAS in the Brussels arena, a further argument will be made that the post-Lisbon arrangements in the fi eld of EU external action have resulted in a small move away from the so-called ‘Community method’ towards a more intergovernmental way of EU foreign policy making writ large.

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CLEER WP 2012/1 - Erkelens & Blockmans