9 December 2011


One year on from its creation, the European External Action Service (EEAS) now needs a global vision, says a new report from Chatham House.

A Diplomatic Entrepeneur: Making the Most of the External Action Service, says the first twelve months of the service have been marked by bureaucratic inertia and unforgiving criticism in the press about the service’s performance. The EU now needs to build and support the new diplomatic service so that it can help lead on the contemporary foreign affairs agenda or risk increased nationalization of foreign policy in Europe and a potential weakening of the EU’s significance in world affairs.

The creation of the EEAS in December 2010 was the EU’s attempt to equip itself with a diplomatic service to enhance its international profile and impact. This report considers the challenges the EEAS has had to address to become a 'diplomatic entrepreneur', with the capability to guide, coordinate and lead EU diplomacy on the issues that define Europe's foreign affairs agenda in the 21st century.

One of the report’s authors, Richard Whitman says:

'Effective leadership of the EEAS requires the kind of virtues exhibited by the best entrepreneurs: intellectual leadership, innovative policies, an eye for new opportunities and a willingness to take calculated risks. This kind of creative diplomacy could gain the confidence of the EEAS’s ‘shareholders’ – the EU’s 27 governments and institutions.'

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Baroness Ashton should use the first anniversary of the EEAS as an occasion to communicate a vision for the service, explaining its role in promoting the interests and values of the European Union, its member states and its citizens.

  • Updating the EU Security Strategy to identify where the medium and long-term interests of EU countries overlap and where these can be advanced through concerted, collective action.

  • Launching a review to articulate the EEAS’ distinctive role, set its priorities, and match resources to these aims. The goal should be to finalize a strategic plan before the end of the High Representative’s current term in 2014 and coinciding with the CFSP budget discussion.

  • Taking advantage of the EU’s diversity by drawing on individual foreign ministers to act as senior envoys.

Read report