EEAS Could Do Much Better, MEPs Say

Catherine Ashton discusses the crisis in Libya with Foreign Affairs Committee Vice-Chairman Fiorello Provera

Political leadership and visibility of the External Action Service could be improved if there were more coordination and synergy between it, the Commission and the Council, as was the intention when the functions of High Representative, Commission Vice-President and Foreign Affairs Council chair were merged, said foreign affairs MEPs on Tuesday in their review of the EU's new diplomatic corps two years after it was set up.

The EEAS must be streamlined and duplication of services in the Commission and the Council Secretariat must end to allow for effective decision-making and timely policy responses, MEPs say. They suggest that the EU foreign policy chief should chair the group of external relations commissioners and be supported by a political deputy or deputies, answerable to Parliament.

There should be more focus on strategic planning and more consistency between short and longer-term measures, MEPs argue. They advocate an "appropriate structure", similar to a crisis board, bringing together members of different departments in charge of crisis management and response.

More political accountability to the EP

MEPs demand that new heads of the delegations across the world attend confirmation hearings before relevant Parliament committees before they take up their duties. Key EP office holders should receive full political reporting from delegations, they add. They also call for systematic exchanges with appropriate committees ahead of each foreign affairs council.

Delegations should be better equipped to serve EU interests

The delegations should have a security and defence attaché to guarantee adequate monitoring of political developments, especially in fragile countries, MEPs underline. They should also do more to incorporate human rights in their work, with particular attention to women's rights. MEPs point out that the delegations require staff with the requisite skills and competences to reflect and serve the needs and interests of the EU in its relations with the country or region concerned.

The delegations should be also enabled to provide consular protection to EU citizens from those member states not represented in that country, MEPs say, stressing that any additional tasks must be matched with fresh resources.

Plenary vote in June

The committee's resolution, drafted by Elmar Brok (EPP, DE) and Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT) and adopted by 38 votes to 12, with one abstention, is scheduled for a vote in  the full House in Strasbourg in June.

The final resolution will constitute Parliament's input to the 2013 EEAS review report, currently being prepared by the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and due to be published in summer.

In the chair: Elmar Brok (EPP, DE).

Originally published by European Parliament / Press release.

Photo by European Parliament.

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