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EU diplomatic service: Parliament urged to fast-track its position

europa-bandereEuropean Parliament – Press release

EU diplomatic service: Parliament urged to fast-track its position

Constitutional affairs – 06-10-2009 – 17:08

If the EU is to wield its diplomatic clout effectively and democratically, Parliament needs to decide its position on the creation of the planned European external action service as soon as possible, Members of the EP Constitutional Affairs Committee agreed on Tuesday. MEPs, who are mindful that the Commission and Council are already working on arrangements for the service, are keen for it to be a part of the Commission structure and thus subject to democratic scrutiny by Parliament.

The EU’s new European External Action Service (EEAS) is due to be established by the Lisbon Treaty. Consisting of officials from the Commission, Council and Member States, the EEAS will assist the High Representative for external relations. The Council will decide how to organise the service on the basis of a proposal from the High Representative.

Keep the “Community model”, say MEPs

However, before the Council makes its decision it must consult the Parliament and obtain the consent of the Commission, as Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), author of the EP committee’s report on the matter, pointed out.

Mr Brok’s draft report calls on the Commission to put its full weight behind preserving the Community model in the Union’s external relations. “The EAS should be administratively and budget-wise within the Commission, formally a part of the Commission”, said Mr Brok.

All MEPs present agreed on the need for Parliament to reach its position swiftly and for the EEAS to be incorporated into the Commission’s administrative structure. “We do not yet have a coherent European foreign policy. Thus, we should have coherent institutional arrangements”, argued Socialist shadow rapporteur Adrian Severin (S&D, RO).

MEPs push for democratic oversight

Several MEPs stressed the need for democratic scrutiny of the EEAS. The draft report recommends that political agreement be reached with Parliament on all issues at an early stage to avoid time being wasted later on political controversies. It also emphasises that the establishment of the EEAS must include agreement on budgetary matters.

Andrew Duff (ALDE, UK) was another Member who argued that the EEAS budget should be part of the EU budget, saying: “If the EEAS is an autonomous creature as opposed to being attached to the Commission, we will be confronting permanent controversies and quarrels.”

The committee decided to arrange an extraordinary meeting in Strasbourg 19 October to vote on the issue. The full Parliament could then have its say in plenary on 22 October.

Chair : Carlo CASINI (EPP, IT)
REF. : 20091005IPR61858


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