Europe’s foreign affairs supremo has secured agreement from EU foreign ministers on the future of the External Action Service. The budget for the EU’s new diplomatic service, which Ashton hopes will provide a European response for the 21st century, may r
Mrs Ashton’s first victory. After several hours of negotiation with Europe's foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday an agreement was finally reached on the future European External Action Service. A political green light that marks an important step in equipping the EU with a real diplomatic representation abroad. Europe needs an external action service because that will help us to build a distinct 21st century European response. It will be a service that will bring together the European institutions. But the battle is far from over. Doubts remain over the structure and the functioning of the service, questions in which the Parliament plans to play a decisive role in. I would say that Member States have kept their rights intact, all their national and intergovernmental prerogatives. This just isn't possible. Other questions concern the budget and the service's start deadline. The budget will be very big. I heard a figure of 3 to 5 billion, with several thousand people working under Ashton's direct authority. It will have to be debated in the Foreign Affairs Committee, Constitutional Affairs Committee and voted in plenary. It's still a few months away. Once it starts the External Action Service will have 136 delegations worldwide. Three diplomats could assist Mrs Ashton to ensure EU presence in international meetings.