Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Uncertainties are surrounding the new European Service for Foreign Affairs

Adelina Marini, October 23, 2009

With the Lisbon Treaty entering into force, the ratification process of which might end quite soon, the EU will have a new European Service for Foreign Affairs. However, there are still a number of uncertainties surrounding its formation, structure and which competences of the Commission to take over. As planned, the ESFA will be in a vacuum because it would neither be within the Council, nor the Commission. That is why the European Parliament approved yesterday the report of the German MEP Elmar Brok, saying that the ESFA should be within the Commission because this would give the EP the chance to oversee it.

The report has been approved by 424 MEPs, 94 voted against and 30 abstained. Against voted members of the group of Europe for Freedom and Democracy and the group of the European Conservatives and Reformists. One of the main reasons for their vote was that the report of Mr. Brok referred to the diplomatic mission of the EU abroad as "embassies of the EU". They insisted that the more community-like names should be kept like EU Delegations or missions of the EU.

The MEPs have also decided that some field which are now in the competences of the Commission, should be kept there and not transferred in the jurisdiction of the ESFA. Those fields are trade because although it is very related to foreign policy, still it cannot be put in the same category. Among other fields are enlargement and the development policy which is coming more and more important for the EU. The expectations are that the new Commission of Jose Manuel Barroso will have a commissioner, responsible for development policy.

This issue evoked serious debates in the Parliament and that is why the MEPs skipped the list of fields that should not be transferred to the ESFA from the document, leaving this way the issue open. They only wrote in the "Elmar Brok" report that "some fields of the current competences of the Commission with regard to foreign policy, would not be transferred to the ESFA until a concrete model within the Commission is developed".

Next week the General Affairs and External Relations Council will give its opinion on the future structure of the ESFA, the EP press service sin Brussels aid to euinside.