Thursday, November 4, 2010

EU Diplomatic Core About to Burst on the Scene

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Baroness Catherine Ashton listens to questions during a joint press conference on the European External Action Service in Brussels on September 15.
It costs over twice as much as the British Foreign Ministry. It employs well over 2,000 more people. And it will massively expand Europe’s global profile. More details about the new European External Action Service (eeas), or diplomatic core, due to formally enter service on December 1, have emerged.
The eeas’s annual budget is ₤5.8 billion, and projected to eventually rise to ₤8.3 billion. At the same time, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office is struggling to cut its budget by 24 percent.
The eeas will employ around 7,000 people. The British Foreign Office employs 4,863.
The Daily Mail claims that 50 of the top eeas officials will be paid more than the British prime minister.
So the European Union will soon have a diplomatic core better staffed and funded than that of the UK.
Of course some of this spending is typical EU waste, as Europe’s critics point out. One hundred and fifty bulletproof limousines and a well-staffed embassy near a white sandy beach in Barbados may be very nice for EU diplomatic staff, but will not do much to enhance Europe’s global reach. Nor will the chairs that cost ₤800 each and lamps that cost ₤400 that are being installed in the EU’s new home in London, Europe House.
Despite many similar examples, however, rest assured that the money Europe is pouring into the eeas will increase its power.
Concervative mep Daniel Hannan writes in the Daily Mail that “the EU means to signal to other countries that it, rather than its 27 constituent members, should now be their first port of call. To a remarkable degree, it has already succeeded.
“Go to almost any non-EU nation and you will find an EU embassy towering over the national missions and typically employing three or four times as many staff as any member states.”
He writes that the astronomical figures Europe is spending on its diplomatic service “don’t simply reflect the EU’s profligacy; they also reflect a genuine shift in the balance of power.”
“The official launch of the eeas represents a significant ramping up of the EU’s ambition to be a global power,” he says.
He continues:
For Euro-integrationists, the eeas isn’t really about economies of scale or about better coordination. It’s about creating a country called Europe.

The EU already has most of the attributes associated with statehood: a currency, a president, a passport, a parliament, a flag. But, until now, it has lacked the capacity to conduct relations with other states.

Not anymore.

On Dec. 1, 2009, the EU acquired what international lawyers call “legal personality,” meaning that it can sign treaties with other states.

Now it has a diplomatic corps to negotiate those treaties. The final piece of the jigsaw is in place.