Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

MEPs will hear publicly the nominees for key EU ambassadors

Ralitsa Kovacheva, September 23, 2010

European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has invited the nominated for EU ambassadors in China, Cambodia, Japan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Sudan for hearings in October. The interviews with the Heads of European Union Delegations in strategic regions, was one of the conditions of MEPs to support the creation of the European External Action Service.

The Bulgarian nominee Philip Dimitrov commented for euinside that he was expecting the hearing in the European Parliament, after which the nominations will be finally approved. This is why Mr Dimitrov was concise with regard to his future work in Georgia.

He explained that his choice had passed through three stages - submission of documents, interviews with a committee and then with Lady Ashton herself. Mr Dimitrov has himself chosen Georgia as a preferred destination from the outset, he told euinside. We asked him if there had already been well-developed mechanisms about how EU's common views will be implemented in the future work of the ambassadors. Philip Dimitrov said: "One of the tasks of the new External Action Service will be to develop such mechanisms.”

MEPs have no legal power to block the appointments. However, they will rely on public interviews to verify that applicants are prepared for their future work. The hearings of the nominated EU commissioners in the beginning of the year showed that this was a useful and successful way MEPs to exercise their influence and society to see to which people it delegates its trust. As a result of her failure in such an interview, the first Bulgarian candidate for EU commissioner Rumyana Zheleva was withdrawn and replaced by Christalina Gheorghieva.

EUobserver commented that “the new ambassador to China, German diplomat Markus Ederer, who is currently the head of policy planning in the German foreign ministry, is seen as a very strong choice. The new envoy to Georgia, former Bulgarian prime minister Philip Dimitrov, is also seen as a heavy-hitter because of his previous high office.”

Ashton's choice for a Head of EU delegation in Sudan (who was appointed earlier this year) is obviously also based on past experience - the British diplomat Rosalind Marsden is a former UK ambassador in Sudan. The advantage of the Austrian diplomat Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, who will head the delegation in Japan, is that he “should have a good grasp of EU policy as he is currently Austria's ambassador to the EU”. The other two candidates invited by the MEPs are from the European Commission's "quota": the Dutch EU official Angelina Eichhors, who is set to head the EU delegation in Lebanon, is currently the head of the Political, Economic and Trade section in the European Commission delegation to Syria. The Swedish representative Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, who goes to Pakistan, is currently the head of the Commission's Security Policy unit.

In the coming weeks Lady Ashton will announce the nominations for European ambassadors to Belarus, Brazil and Iraq. The interviews with the future ambassadors will be held in October and will be public, so you can find more information on the topic on euinside.