News BlogEEAS High Representative

European diplomats loyal to the post

(BRUSSELS2, exclusive) This is a little-known aspect of the new European diplomatic service. But today in the “embassies” of the European Union, there is the creation of a crisis management mentality, rather unprecedented in the European organization until now (except among the experts of ECHO – the humanitarian aid office). In the event of a crisis, natural or industrial disaster, unrest or war, the objective is now for the European embassy to remain open as little as possible. A real change in “mentalities” as a senior EEAS official explained to Brussels2. “ In the event of a crisis, we now ask our ambassadors to stay on the ground as much as possible, as we can ask in a Member State with a national diplomat. They accept most of the time without problem »

A regulation inherited from the past

Only problem: the personnel regulations do not provide for it. Better yet, he foresees the opposite. Inherited from the Commission, it obliges the institution to ensure the protection of its agents and further recommends shelter in the slightest event. Previously, " the instruction was “when there was trouble or conflict, to leave” “says our interlocutor. " Times of unrest are never good for trading or carrying out development projects. Today we say, and demand, the opposite »

The voluntarism of EU ambassadors

This happened in Ivory Coast, where the ambassador remained as much as possible, or, more recently in Yemen, not without real risks. There have been " very difficult times » tells a diplomat to B2, with « shooting for several days around the mission”. In Japan, after the Fukushima disaster, and when we did not really know what was happening in terms of radiation, there was a “ wind of panic in diplomatic representations. " Many embassies were procrastinating to stay in the capital and some were considering or had even already packed up to go to Kyoto. The European ambassador remained there and united the European ambassadors to stay there ". A presence felt very positively by the country's authorities: the EU scored a point at this time in Japan.

Some difficulties

This attitude will not give rise to any criticisms and difficulties. At the Commission, some demanded that those responsible for the EEAS " get involved personally if there is the slightest problem on the ground. » And even in the European diplomatic service, we want to remain quite discreet about the sometimes dangerous conditions in which new look European diplomats operate “to avoid any problems” with those on the other side… :)

NB: It should also be noted that the EEAS did not until now have the possibility of having its own internal rules... Because it simply did not have a negotiating body for this. personnel committee. After much internal discussion, a staff committee was elected (discussions had taken place to find out whether two committees were needed – one for headquarters and one for the delegations – or just one, it was the latter solution which was ultimately prevailed). The elections took place at the end of last year. And the first meeting is scheduled for these days. As a specialist in his questions at the EEAS explains, “ we will now be able to start putting in place our own staff regulations. Which should make it easier for us ».

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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