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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

France breaks ranks on Libya, dwarfs EU's Ashton | EurActiv - 0 views

  • France broke ranks with its European partners yesterday (10 March) by becoming the first country to recognise Libya's opposition and by deciding to "explore the possibility" of carrying out targeted bombings in the civil war-torn country. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton finds herself pushed onto the sidelines as EU leaders flock to Brussels for a crisis summit.
  • According to the EU Treaties, the bloc's Common Foreign and Security Policy is an area of "shared competence" between member countries and the Union. In an effort to ensure greater coordination and consistency in EU foreign policy, the Treaty of Lisbon created Catherine Ashton's post. Ashton is in charge of implementing the agreed common positions of the EU. It appears, however, that there is no obstacle preventing one member country from breaking free from positions that have already been agreed, as illustrated by France in the Libya case.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.12.10: EEAS and human rights - Ashton to face MEPs' questions - 0 views

  • EU high representative for foreign affairs Cathy Ashton is to face tough questions from MEPs next Wednesday (15 December) over her strategy to promote European human rights values through the bloc's new external action service. On the same day as Norway's Nobel Prize committee handed this year's prestigious award to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in absentia, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said he was keen to hear how Ms Ashton intended to work in the field.
  • "Next Wednesday in Strasbourg we are expecting to hear from Baroness Ashton how she intends to implement the commitments she made on this matter during the negotiations leading up to the establishment of the EEAS," he said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

21.10.10: EEAS to be born on Lisbon Treaty anniversary - 0 views

  • In the presence of a smiling Catherine Ashton, the European Parliament yesterday (20 October) approved by an overwhelming majority the last three legislative texts required to launch the European External Action Service (EEAS) on 1 December 2010, the day of the first anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty.
  • The Parliament in Strasbourg passed the Staff Regulation, the Financial Regulation and the EEAS 2010 budget, clearing the way for High Representative Catherine Ashton to appoint the senior managerial team of the new EU diplomatic service. The appointment of the dozen high officials is expected to facilitate the selection of candidates for some 80 middle-management positions, which are also up for grabs in a first wave of recruitment. However, the selection process so far has left a bitter after-taste, with many capitals strongly pushing for their candidates in the hope of gaining influence in the new body from the first day. When fully operational, the EEAS is expected to provide attractive employment to some 6,000 people worldwide. The ambassador of a member country, who asked not to be named, told EurActiv the EEAS was becoming "the home of the high-flying protégés of governments in power".
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

20.10.10: Full speed ahead on EU diplomatic corps after Strasbourg vote - 0 views

  • The European Parliament on Wednesday (20 October) adopted by a crushing majority new budgetary and staff regulations for the European External Action Service (EEAS), clearing the last legal hurdle for the launch of the new institution. "It's a historic vote. We're all one happy family now," an official in the entourage of EEAS chief Catherine Ashton told EUobserver.
  • Ms Ashton is also close to a compromise with the parliament's foreign affairs committee on hearings for new EEAS ambassadors. The diplomats are likely to face parliament questions in early December, after receiving full accreditation from their host countries. Ms Ashton wants the hearings to be held for the most part behind closed doors. Following the vote on Wednesday, the foreign affairs MEPs have little leverage to use against her. Details of the parliament vote on three separate EEAS reports saw the compromise deal get through by over 500 votes in each case against no more than 51. The budget-and-staff package envisages detailed parliamentary oversight on EEAS hiring and firing of diplomats in foreign missions but not on EU member states' spending of the €3-billion-a-year European Development Fund or on military missions. It stipulates an "appropriate and meaningful presence of nationals from all the member states" but not quota-type targets for nationals from new EU countries, as called for by Polish centre-right MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, who tried to put a positive spin on developments in an emailed statement on the day.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.10.10: MEPs to oversee details of Ashton spending - 0 views

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    The European Parliament has won the right to look into the nitty gritty of spending in foreign delegations in the EU's new diplomatic service amid mild alarm over rising costs. The provisional agreement was put together at an informal meeting between MEPs, EU officials and member states on Monday (11 October) and represents an easing of tensions between the assembly and Catherine Ashton's office after a dispute over diplomatic appointments last week.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.10.10: Ashton calls off EU ambassador hearings - 0 views

  • EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has called off plans for EU ambassadors to hold hearings in the European Parliament in a serious rift with MEPs over the set-up of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

    Ms Ashton announced the move late on Monday (4 October) on the eve of the first hearing with the new EU envoy to Japan, Austrian diplomat Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, which was due to have taken place in the parliament's foreign affairs committee on Tuesday morning.

    The decision comes after MEPs opted to hold the hearings in public and before the nominees have been formally installed in their posts, raising the risk that if one of them tripped up in questioning it could cost them their new job.

Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

EU parliament to arm-twist Ashton on appointments for the EEAS - 0 views

  • Two senior MEPs have indicated that the European Parliament will leverage its legal powers to make sure Catherine Ashton gets the "right balance" of top people in the diplomatic corps. Ms Ashton, the EU foreign relations chief, is getting ready to unveil her nominations for 31 heads of mission and deputy heads of mission for EU embassies abroad, as well as a further 80 senior diplomatic postings and the top 20-or-so administrative jobs in the European External Action Service (EEAS).
  • A parliament negotiator on the EEAS regulations, German centre-right MEP Elmar Brok, told EUobserver that another big chunk should go to European Commission candidates so that the EEAS becomes a genuine EU body instead of an inter-governmental one. "There needs to be a proper institutional balance. If all the posts come from the member states and the Council, then we will have a problem," he warned. He added that parliament aims to call around 10 out of the top diplomatic nominations for hearings: "If someone goes before the European Parliament and it is a total disaster, then it will be difficult for Ms Ashton to keep them."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.07.10: EU foreign ministers approve diplomatic service - 0 views

  • EU foreign ministers on Monday (26 July) gave the nod to the overall structure of the Union's new diplomatic service, paving the way for chief of diplomacy Catherine Ashton to begin making appointments to the service that will employ thousands.
  • With the fight to have the service established largely over, the focus is now likely set on the extent to which member states, several of whom jealously guard their foreign policy prerogatives, will allow a coherent foreign policy to thrive.
  • Big countries have been keen to stress the service will not impinge on their foreign policy sovereignty, a point illustrated by the extent to which they are prepared to consider closing their own embassies in certain countries and use the EU embassy.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

08.07.10: EU takes 'historic' step on new diplomatic service - 0 views

  • Foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton will turn her attention to choosing the top officials and the main building for the European External Action Service (EEAS) after the EU Parliament approved the legal blueprint for the new body. MEPs in a landslide result in Strasbourg on Thursday (8 July) backed the final EEAS set-up by 549 votes against 78 with 17 abstentions.
  • The EEAS today boils down to Ms Ashton and a team of 30-or-so officials in one corridor on the 12th floor of the European Commission building in Brussels, struggling to work with EU experts in the commission's Charlemagne building next door, the EU Council building across the road and dozens of other bureaus. From 1 December, she will take command of some 1,500 officials housed under one roof in the heart of the EU quarter in Brussels, as well as 800 EU diplomats in the EEAS' 136 foreign embassies.
  • In a sign of tension in the Lisbon-Treaty-era EU, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos defended member states' prerogatives in Strasbourg on Tuesday. Mr Fillon reportedly said it is a "red line" for Paris that member states will take foreign policy decisions, while Ms Ashton will simply "implement" them. Mr Moratinos said that in some cases, such as human rights in Cuba, bilateral diplomacy is more effective than EU-level action. For his part, the leader of the Liberal group in the parliament, Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, on Wednesday attacked the "19th century" mentality of "nation states." "What century are we living in? Terrorism, does that stop at borders? Climate change? Migration?" he said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.03.10: 'Difficult birth' awaits EU diplomatic service - 0 views

  • The birth of the European External Action Service, one of the most anticipated innovations of the Lisbon Treaty, will be a difficult one, admitted a top European Commission official yesterday (4 March).
  • Implicitly, he appeared to confirm that the blueprint, already drafted by Ashton's committee, was encountering difficulties in some member countries. A "long discussion" had taken place at the level of EU member-state ambassadors (Coreper) yesterday, he said, and talks were due to continue at the informal foreign ministers' meeting in Cordoba, Spain, tomorrow (5 March). The European Parliament will also have a say, he added. But recruiting staff from the member countries will take time, Vale de Almeida said, adding that upgrading the European Commission's existing network of foreign delegations will also take "a few months". Speaking to EurActiv, Vale de Almeida said that if the decision was taken by the end of April as planned, he expected the service to start work by the end of the year.
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