The European External Action Service and the unity and coherence of European Foreign Policy

AuthorBrian Crowe
ProfessionDirector del Centro Europeo de Estudios Políticos y Diplomáticos en la Universidad de Oxford
Brian cr o w e
Director del Centro Europeo de Estudios Políticos
y Diplomáticos en la Universidad de Oxford
The title I have been given for this article focuses on the importance
of the European External Action Service (EAS), created by the Lisbon
Treaty, for the coherence of the EU’s foreign policy.
This, in common with much of the public discussion of the exter-
nal aspects of the Lisbon Treaty, risks putting the cart before the horse.
The EAS is undeniably important, but it is subordinate. The key change
made by Lisbon in the EU’s foreign policy dispositions was not the EAS,
but was rather the abolition of the rotating presidency in external rela-
tions and giving to a single person these responsibilities plus those of the
Commissioner responsible for external relations.
Depending on how you count the High Representative, Javier Sola-
na, whose formal job description was simply to «assist» the Presidency
(Amsterdam Treaty), this meant combining in a single person two, or
three, hitherto different jobs. And not just jobs, but jobs with functions
which the founding fathers had deliberately kept separate in accordance
with the principle of the separation of powers.
Getting twenty-seven member states and the Commission to agree
to common policies is extraordinarily diff‌icult even in favourable cir-
cumstances. The aim in Lisbon was to make this easier by eliminating
the tensions between Presidency, High Representative and Commission
though the simple expedient of giving these three different functions to
one person.
03-CROWE.indd 43 21/10/11 18:20:41

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