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European External Action Service

European External Action Service
Emblem of the EEAS
Agency overview
Formed 1 December 2010 (2010-12-01)
Preceding agencies
Type Autonomous institution
Headquarters Triangle building
1046 Brussels, Belgium
Employees 4,955 (2015)
Annual budget € 976.1 million (2015)
Agency executives
Child agencies
Key document

The European External Action Service (EEAS or EAS) is a European Union (EU) department[1] that was established following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009. It was formally launched on 1 December 2010[2] and serves as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the EU, implementing the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy and other areas of the EU's external representation. The EEAS is under the authority of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR), a post also created by the Treaty of Lisbon, whom it assists.

The EEAS manages the EU's response to crises, has intelligence capabilities and cooperates with the Commission in areas which it shares competence with. However, although the High Representative and the EEAS can propose and implement policy, it will not make it as that role is left to the Foreign Affairs Council which the High Representative chairs.[1][3]

The EEAS is unique and independent from other EU institutions, formed by merger of the external relation departments of the Council and the European Commission, sitting outside those institutions and it also has its own independent budget.[1]


  • History 1
  • Organisation 2
    • Departments transferred 2.1
    • Staff 2.2
      • Senior posts 2.2.1
  • Delegations 3
  • Budget 4
  • Parliamentary oversight 5
  • Intelligence and security 6
  • Commission's responsibilities 7
  • Location 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The EEAS was first included in the original European Constitution, a single EU external relations department was seen as necessary to support the proposed single HR post; as Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform, says it would ' like having a conductor without an orchestra—or rather, a conductor trying to conduct two separate orchestras at the same time.'[4] Following the rejection of the Constitution, the changes were revived in the Treaty of Lisbon which came into force in 2009.

The mandate for the External Action Service is laid down under article 13a-III of the Treaty of Lisbon (TEU Article 27), and states the following:

Shortly before the treaty came into force, Catherine Ashton was named HR and tasked with drawing up the structure of the new EEAS. Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake Ashton chaired a meeting of the foreign policy actors across the Commission, Council and member states to give a coordinated response to the disaster. Although she refused to describe it as the first act of the external action service, Ashton did stress that it was the first time that such a co-ordination between all the various EU foreign policy actors had been accomplished before.[6]

Throughout the first half of 2010 Ashton fought for agreement between the Council, Parliament and the Commission as to the future shape of the EEAS. The Commission wanted to retain as many of its existing competencies (trade, development, enlargement, representations and so forth) as possible[7] while Parliament fought to gain as much oversight over the EEAS as possible by demanding scrutiny of appointments and budgets.[8] Parliament removed the last hurdle to the plan on 8 July, when MEPs approved the service by 549 votes for and 78 against with 17 abstentions. The Council approved the transfer of departments to the EAS on 20 July. Until the EEAS became operational, Ashton was only been supported by around 30 people on a floor of the Berlaymont building.[3][9] The EEAS was formally launched at the Commission headquarters in a low key event on 1 December 2010.[2]


For organisation of the executive offices, see 'senior posts' below[10]
European Union
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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government
of the European Union

The EEAS manages general foreign relations, security and defence policies and controls the

  • Official website
  • EU in the World's channel on YouTube
  • Web site of EEAS Trade Unions (English) and (French) mixed
  • European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Search EU Financial Sanctions List

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rettman, Andrew (23 October 2009) EU states envisage new foreign policy giant, EU Observer
  2. ^ a b c Rettman, Andrew (2 December 2010) Ashton names EU foreign-service priorities at low-key launch event, EU Observer
  3. ^ a b c d e Rettman, Andrew (8 July 2010) EU takes 'historic' step on new diplomatic service, EU Observer
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Rettman, Andrew (14 January 2009) EU foreign relations chief tests new powers in earthquake response, EU Observer
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c Mahony, Honor (24 March 2010) Ashton makes concessions to parliament on diplomatic service, EU Observer, accessed 24 March 2010
  9. ^ a b c d COUNCIL DECISION establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service PDF, Council of the European Union, 20 July 2010
  10. ^
  11. ^ Rettman, Andrew (1 March 2010) Germany attacks UK over EU diplomatic service, EU Observer
  12. ^ a b EUROPEAN EXTERNAL ACTION SERVICE Provisional organisational chart, EEAS
  13. ^ a b c d Mahony, Honor (22 June 2010) Details emerge on final set-up of EU diplomatic corps, EU Observer
  14. ^ Rettman, Andrew (4 June 2010) EU ponders creation of new diplomatic breed, EU Observer
  15. ^ A new step in the setting-up of the EEAS: Transfer of staff on 1 January 2011, Council of the European Union 21 December 2010
  16. ^ a b c Rettman, Andrew (11 March 2010) France and Germany eye top job in EU diplomatic corps, EU Observer
  17. ^ a b c Rettman, Andrew (29 October 2010) German and Pole join roll-call of Ashton lieutenants, EU Observer
  18. ^
  19. ^ Structure and Organisation, European External Action Service
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^ EU High Representative Catherine Ashton appoints EEAS Managing Director for Crisis Response CoEU 2 December 2010
  22. ^ a b EU High Representative Catherine Ashton appoints two new Managing Directors for the External Action Service CoEU 21 December 2010
  23. ^ a b Catherine Ashton appoints Managing Director for Africa, welcomes appointment of EDA Chief Executive, CoEU 6 January 2011
  24. ^ a b EU High Representative Catherine Ashton appoints two Managing Directors for the External Action Service, CoEU 14 December 2010
  25. ^ Vogel, Toby (1 April 2011) Ashton completes EEAS leadership, European Voice
  26. ^ Belgian Walter Stevens appointed Head of Crisis Management and Planning Department of EEAS, Belgian Foreign Ministry
  27. ^ High Representative Catherine Ashton makes three senior appointments in European External Action Service CoEU 28 March 2011
  28. ^ a b Ashton picks Fin to be EU 'spymaster'
  29. ^ EU High Representative Catherine Ashton appoints Director of the European Union Situation Centre (SITCEN) for the External Action Service, CoEU
  30. ^ Ambassador Olof Skoog to chair the EU Political and Security Committee (PSC), Swedish Foreign Ministry 18 November 2010
  31. ^ Catherine Ashton appoints Robert Cooper as Counsellor in the EEAS (PDF), EEAS 2 December 2010
  32. ^ External Service – delegations' websites, website
  33. ^ EU commission 'embassies' granted new powers
  34. ^ EU envoy to US flaunts new powers, EU Observer 11 August 2010
  35. ^ EU foreign ministers approve diplomatic service, EU Observer 27 July 2010
  36. ^ a b Rettman, Andrew (22 February 2010) EU diplomats to benefit from new intelligence hub, EU Observer
  37. ^ Rettman, Andrew (27 June 2010) Ashton to take command of US-type situation room, EU Observer
  38. ^ Fight against the financing of terrorism – implementation of Common Position 2001/931/CFSP, Council of the European Union
  39. ^ a b Rettman, Andrew (1 July 2010) Ashton hires Polish agent to beef up security, EU Observer
  40. ^
  41. ^ EUROPEAN EXTERNAL ACTION SERVICE Graphic representation (PDF), EEAS
  42. ^ Supervision, EUSC
  43. ^ About Us, EUISS
  44. ^ Organisation, EDA
  45. ^
  46. ^ Mahony, Honor (25 March 2010) Ashton secures deal on new diplomatic service, EU Observer
  47. ^ Görtz, S. and N. Keijzer. 2012. Reprogramming EU development cooperation for 2014–2020 – Key moments for partner countries, EU Delegations, member states and headquarters in 2012. (ECDPM Discussion Paper 129),
  48. ^ a b c Rettman, Andrew (27 October 2010) Ashton chooses €12-million-a-year EU headquarters, EU Observer
  49. ^ a b c d Rettman, Andrew (27 October 2010) Ashton chooses €12-million-a-year EU headquarters, EU Observer
  50. ^ Rankin, Jennifer and Toby Vogel (12 November 2009) Smoothing the road from Nice to Lisbon, European Voice
  51. ^ a b Rettman, Andrew (20 September 2010) Ashton favours 'Lex' building for new headquarters, EU Observer


It was originally expected that the EEAS would take over the Commission's Charlemagne building[50] on the Rue de la Loi which housed the now defunct Directorate-General for External Relations (RELEX). However that building was thought to be too small,[49] would be too closely associated with RELEX (going against the image of the EEAS as a unique independent institution)[51] and would take too long to overhaul.[48] It was also proposed that the EEAS take over the Lex building.[49] Due to cost and security considerations, Ashton had preferred to take over the Lex building which could be rented from the Council at a lower rate and already has a higher security rating with underground tunnels to the main Commission and Council buildings. However in order to take over the building, the council staff would have to be willing to leave and the Council's budget increased so they could find new accommodation.[51] Due to the staff in Lex unwilling to move, the triangle building was chosen by Ashton in October 2010.[48]

The EEAS is based in the Triangle building (also known as the Capital, or Axa building) on Schuman roundabout in the heart of Brussels' EU Quarter. The building is leased at €12 million-a-year. Prior to moving in, future EEAS staff were located in eight separate buildings at a cost of €25 million each year.[48] The EEAS lease most of the building, with Commission departments filling the remaining space.[49] The European Personnel Selection Office (Epso) was already occupying part of the building since July 2010.[49]


The following Directorates-General (DGs) and Commissioners are not being merged and decisions in these areas require approval from the college of Commissioners:

However Ashton's draft plan for the EEAS included proposals for the EEAS to take responsibility for Neighbourhood Policy (currently assigned to the Enlargement Commissioner) and international development at least.[45] Under a compromise with the Commission, it was agreed development would be split, with the EEAS taking on three of the five planning cycles from the Commission.[46] How this division of labour will work in practice only began being tested in 2012 as the 2014–2020 programming exercise began.[47]

The European Commission managed to retain control over its competencies in aid (and its €6 billion a year budget), development, energy and enlargement. This gives the relevant Commissioners the lead in those areas[3] and deputise for the HR when necessary.[13] Although the service will have cells for the Commission's areas, decisions will have to be made jointly by the HR and the College of Commissioners.[1]

Commission's responsibilities

The High Representative also has authority over the European Defence Agency, EU Institute for Security Studies and the EU Satellite Centre, though these remain autonomous from the EEAS itself.[41][42][43][44]

In September 2010, job adverts went out to EU institutions and national embassies for three junior posts at the EEAS. One for foreign deployment, one for a multi-lingual internet researcher and one to follow up on open and confidential information sources. The adverts expressed more about the future department's work, in particular at the new director would be expected to travel to global hotspots.[40] The director of the Joint Situation Centre was appointed in December 2010, Finnish security chief Ilkka Salmi.[28]

Meanwhile Ashton appointed a Polish security operative to head a working group designing the security architecture of the EEAS; particularly the physical security of the EEAS building and its communication network with its embassies. It is seen as particularly important due to the EEAS handling sensitive, as discussed above, amid espionage concerns from China and Russia.[39]

The Situation Centre and Crisis Room would be merged and headed by the HR. It would be located near the HR's office headed by a director-general with a staff of around 160 people and a budget of 10 to 20 million euro a year. It would have IT experts, scientists, tacticians and seconded intelligence operatives. It would send people into crisis zones to gather information and have 24/7 hotlines to EU delegations around the world. It would give the HR an immediate and powerful asset in an emergency without having to go via the Council's Political and Security committee first.[37] However it is unclear if the Council's Clearing House (or Working Group CP 931 which deals with the EU's terrorism blacklist[38]) would be merged into the EEAS along with these other bodies.[39]

The Commission's Crisis Room is run by six commission officials who run a restricted website reporting breaking news on the 118 active conflicts in the world based on open sources and news from EU embassies. It uses scientific tools including statistical analysis and software which scans global TV broadcasts for names and key words. Details on the plans for the new merged intelligence service are still sketchy as of early 2010 but it will not run undercover operations along the lines of national intelligence agencies despite proposals from Belgium and Austria after the 2004 Madrid train bombings.[36]

As part of the merger, the intelligence gathering services in the Commission and Council will be merged. These services are the Council's Joint Situation Centre (SitCen) and Watch-Keeping Capability and the Commission's Crisis Room. The Situation Centre has 110 staff and has a cell of intelligence analysts from member states who pool classified information to produce concise reports on important topics. It also runs a 24/7 alert desk based on public sources which then updates EU diplomats via SMS on current events. The Watch-Keeping Capability is composed of 12 police and military officers who gather news from the EU's overseas missions.[36]

Intelligence and security

Parliament has fought to gain oversight over the EEAS and under final plans the budget, though independent, would be scrutinised by MEPs who can approve or reject it. Parliament would also be consulted on overseas missions and have stronger budgetary oversight over those too. They would also informally vet appointments to prominent foreign embassies and have access to some classified EEAS documents.[3][13]

Parliamentary oversight

The EEAS's budget is proposed and managed by the HR[1] and be signed off every year by Parliament. Parliament would also review the budget of each EU mission; Parliaments oversight would put an end to a long-standing gentlemen's agreement whereby Parliament and Council do not look at each other's budget details.[8]


The first delegation to be upgraded was the one in Washington D.C., the new joint ambassador was Joao Vale de Almeida who outlined his new powers as speaking for both the Commission and Council presidents, and member states. He would be in charge where there was a common position but otherwise, on bilateral matters, he would not take over from national ambassadors. All delegations are expected to be converted by the end of 2010.[34] Some states may choose to operate through the new EU delegations and close down some of their smaller national embassies, however France has indicated that it will maintain its own network around the world for now.[35]

On 1 January 2010 all former European Commission delegations were renamed European Union delegations and were gradually upgraded into embassy-type missions that employ greater powers than the regular delegations. These upgraded delegations have taken on the role previously carried out by the national embassies of the member state holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union and merged with the independent Council delegations around the world. Through this the EU delegations take on the role of co-ordinating national embassies and speaking for the EU as a whole, not just the Commission.[33]

The former Commission's representations abroad fall under the EEAS as EU embassies (although representing the whole of the EU under Lisbon, the Commission had wanted to retain management).[1] The delegations would also support visits from MEPs, delegation heads would have hearings in Parliament (though no veto) and they are at the disposal of Parliament for questions concerning the country they dealt with.[8] There are EU delegations in nearly every UN member state[32] and each head of delegation is the EU ambassador (appointed by the High Representative).

The delegation in Washington, D.C., the first to be upgraded to an EU embassy.


Ashton also appointed Robert Cooper as EEAS Counsellor[2][31] and Claude-France Arnould (France) as chief executive of the European Defence Agency on 6 January 2011.[23]

Post Office-holder State Announced
Members of the EEAS Corporate Board
Executive Secretary-General Alain Le Roy France January 2015[20]
chief operating officer David O'Sullivan Ireland 25 October 2010[20]
Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid Germany 29 October 2010[17]
Deputy Secretary General for Inter-institutional Affairs Maciej Popowski Poland 29 October 2010[17]
Managing Directors
Managing director for Crisis Response Dr Agostino Miozzo Italy 2 December 2010[21]
Managing director for Asia Viorel Isticioaia Budura Romania 21 December 2010[22]
Managing director for Africa Nicholas Westcott United Kingdom 6 January 2011[23]
Managing director for Russia, Eastern Neighbourhood and Western Balkans Miroslav Lajčák Slovakia 14 December 2010[24]
Managing director for Middle East and Southern Neighbourhood Hugues Mingarelli France 21 December 2010[22]
Managing director for the Americas Christian Leffler Sweden 14 December 2010[24]
Managing director for Global and Multilateral Affairs Maria Marinaki Greece 1 April 2011[25]
Other Senior Managers
Head of the Crisis Management and Planning Department Walter Stevens Belgium 4 April 2011[26]
Director General EU Military Staff (EUMS): Lt Gen Wolfgang Wosolsobe Austria
Head of the EU Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) Hansjoerg Haber Germany 28 March 2011[27]
Director of the EU Situation Centre Ilkka Salmi Finland 17 December 2010[28][29]
Chair of the Political and Security Committee Olof Skoog Sweden 18 November 2010[30]

The Secretary-General will also oversee the autonomous cells such as the Situation Centre (see intelligence below), the military staff, an internal security unit, audit unit and a unit for communications and relations with other EU institutions.[16] The chief operating officer deals with the budget and administration and six managing directors each manage a department (see organisation).[12] The following are the initial office holders;[19]

Below the Secretary-General there are two deputy Secretaries-General. One of the deputy secretaries-general deals with administrative matters (such as co-ordination and co-operation with the Commission) while the other assists with foreign policy formulation.[3][16][17] On 28 July 2015 it was announced that as from mid-September 2015, the Secretary General will be assisted by a third Deputy Secretary-General, in charge of Economic and Global Issues.[18] However under the final agreed plans the HR would be deputised by a relevant European Commissioner or the foreign minister holding the rotating council presidency.[13]

The EEAS shall be managed by an Executive Secretary-General who will operate under the authority of the High Representative. The Executive Secretary-General shall take all measures necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of the EEAS, including its administrative and budgetary management. The Executive Secretary-General shall ensure effective coordination between all departments in the central administration as well as with the Union Delegations.
— Council agreement's outline of the duties of the Executive Secretary-General[9]

While the HR conducts shuttle diplomacy, with the special representatives reporting directly to her, the day-to-day administration of the EEAS is be handled by an Executive Secretary-General.[16]

The EEAS supports the work of the High Representative Federica Mogherini in implementing EU foreign policy

Senior posts

In theory, staff within the EEAS should be treated equally regardless of staffing source. In reality, sharp differences are visible. Member state diplomatic officials have tended to join at far higher grades than official recruited under the Staff Regulations currently in force. Officials recruited prior to 2004 also enjoy sharply higher pay and perks than more recently recruited officials. Internal tensions and low staff morale have afflicted the EEAS since its inception, while some have put this down to inevitable 'teething trouble', structural differences in pay and career prospects in such a people-centric business threaten the Service's ability to deliver.

On 1 January 2011 the first staff were permanently transferred to the EEAS: 585 from the Commissions External Relations DG (which ceased to exist), 93 from the Commissions Development DG (the remainder of which merged into Development Cooperation DG), 436 from the Commission delegations and 411 from the Council of the European Union. These joined with 118 new posts to create a staff of 1,643 on the day of transfer.[15]

Staff is drawn from the Commission and Council and from the member states' diplomatic services, seconded temporarily. The HR appoints his or her own staff directly.[1] There were no national quotas for the initial 1,100 staff members and a minimum of 33% was to be from member states. The rest are permanent officials drawn from the European Commission and the Secretariat General of the Council of the European Union. This is in part due to need to establish a common diplomatic culture, which is also what has prompted calls for a European diplomatic academy.[14]


Parts of the following departments have been transferred from the Commission or Council to the External Action Service:[9] the Policy Unit (Council), Directorate-General E (Council), Officials of the General Secretariat of the Council on secondment to European Union Special Representatives and ESDP missions Directorate-General for External Relations (Commission), External Service (Commission – Delegations), Directorate-General for Development (Commission).

Departments transferred

The EEAS has six geographical departments headed by a managing director. The departments divide the world into: 1) Africa, 2) Asia, 3) Americas, 4) the Middle East and Southern Neighbourhood, 5) Russia, the Eastern Neighbourhood and the Western Balkans and 6) Global and Multilateral Affairs.[12] Geographic desks are not duplicated in the Commission.[13] The EEAS also includes departments for security, strategic policy planning, legal affairs, inter-institutional relations, information and public diplomacy, internal audit and inspections, and personal data protection.[9]


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