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The diplomatic service defends itself and advances its success story

General Van Osh Commander of the EU Military Staff, Hakan Syren, Chairman of the EU Military Committee and Agostino Miozzo, Director of the Crisis Response Department surrounding Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative( credit

(BRUSSELS2) The European diplomatic service (EEAS) inevitably remains on the defensive. This is the impression one can get when talking to various European officials recently. The assessment drawn up, on the occasion of his first year of activity, by a senior official of the EEAS did not fail to satisfy this stylistic exercise, which is, let us agree, difficult. How can we not deny, in fact, the difficulties that the Service encounters in its daily life. It is " a real feat that we must accomplish. It will take several years before creating a unified, original service, we must find new practices, new approaches... It will take time. » explains a senior EEAS official during an informal discussion with several journalists. In this context, the letter from the 12 foreign ministers “ seen more as a contribution, a support for our position than a criticism. The observations of the 12 are observations that we have already taken into account in our approach "He said.

Complex relations with the Commission

As for relations with the European Commission, details our interlocutor “ I don't think you can talk about hostility. On several aspects of the case, we are in a period of transition where everyone must find a way to work together ". " There are certainly problems, particularly in terms of human resources management and the budgetary system. It’s a complicated circuit, especially for our heads of delegation. But we're trying to fix it. He admitted, however, that the record varied according to the directions. " There is a whole series of DGs (General Managers) with whom we work very well. With others it is more difficult. » We must clearly see – he explains – that for the European Commission, it is a trauma. “ Seeing an entire DG (DG Relex) and a good part of another (DG Devco) leave is never very easy. When we carry out the same type of reform in the Member States, it has always been done not without difficulties and it has always required a period of adaptation. It can't be done with the stroke of a pen. It takes time and finding the right coordination methods ».

The need for a more strategic vision

One of the points on which we must move – recognized the senior European diplomat – is our “ strategic vision, a vision that goes beyond the next Foreign Affairs Council. Ministers need this. We have to move on this; It is not an easy task. How to have a strategic vision on the Arab Spring, when there is a daily evolution. (…) But we are taking up this challenge. " he added.

Crisis management, a success story

For our interlocutor, crisis management is a “success story” of the new diplomatic service. A point that often goes unnoticed and which “ deserves to be noted " according to him. " It was not in the tradition of the European Commission to manage the crisis. When there was a crisis, the delegation managed the development projects and waited for the crisis to pass. (…) We invited the different DGs (home…). This was not self-evident. But after 8-9 months, we found the rhythm. There are new working methods and habits that are being adopted ". It was not " obvious » as a senior EEAS official told B2. There is a real change of mindset " to accomplish. And also regulations that need to be changed… (read: European diplomats loyal to the post).

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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).