chapter  3
EU diplomacy post- Lisbon: the legacy of the Ashton era
Pages 15

The EU diplomatic system post-Lisbon As is generally the case with institutional changes, the post-Lisbon system is a combination of elements of change and some of the previously existing arrangements. The two most important changes are undoubtedly the introduction of long-term chairs both at the level of the European Council (2.5 years, renewable once) and the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), and the creation of a European External Action Service. The President of the European Council, together with the heads of state and government and the President of the European Commission are supposed to give strategic direction; the HR/VP and the FAC deal with the day-to-day management of foreign policy. Both presidents also fulfil an external representational role at their respective levels. While the President of the European Council in principle has a very broad portfolio including all EU policy fields, the HR/VP mainly focuses on CSFP and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). At the same time, she also coordinates the policy output with other dimensions of EU external action such as trade and development (Art. 18, TEU). In light of the latter role, she also is Vice President of the European Commission, required to closely interact with the other members of the College. The HR/VP de facto combines the pre-Lisbon role of three different actors: the rotating Presidency, the Commissioner for External Relations and the High Representative for CFSP. The merger has been a response to competition and inconsistent policies amongst these various actors. Besides the roles of chair of the FAC and the guardian of coherence of EU external action, the HR/VP has the right to put forward policy initiatives and carries out what has been agreed by the FAC. An important asset for the new HR/VP is her own diplomatic service of 3,400 staff, consisting of Brussels headquarters and c.140 Union delegations in third countries and at international organisations (EEAS Review 2013). As the Treaty on European Union (TEU, Art. 27(3)) is very succinct on the new body, the establishment of the service has led to intense negotiations about its composition, scope, as well as level of centralisation and control (Vanhoonacker and Reslow 2010; Murdoch 2012; Vanhoonacker and Pomorska 2013). This ultimately led to the adoption of the ‘Council Decision of 26 July 2010 Establishing the Organization and Functioning of the European External Action Service’ in July 2010, which, however, was only a starting point in a long process of designing and making the EEAS operational.