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Brussels, 29 October 2010

High Representative Catherine Ashton completes the EAS top management team

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, has today announced the appointment of two Deputy Secretary Generals for the External Action Service (EAS) - completing her top management team. She has appointed Helga Schmid as the Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs and Maciej Popowski as the Deputy Secretary General for Inter-institutional Affairs.

"I am very pleased that Helga and Maciej have agreed to take these two key positions. Their experience and expertise will help us to build the External Action Service that Europe can be proud of," said Catherine Ashton.

Helga Schmid has over 20 years of experience in the world of diplomacy. She has been the Political Adviser to two German Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Head of the Foreign Minister's office, before relocating to Brussels to become the Director of the Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit of the High Representative in the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, a post she has held successfully for the last five years.

Maciej Popowski started his career in the Polish Diplomatic Service almost 20 years ago and took part in the accession negotiations of Poland with the European Union. He was deputy head of Poland's representation to the EU and after the 2004 EU enlargement the first Permanent Representative of Poland to the EU's Political and Security Committee for over five years. He then joined the European Commission as the director in DG Development before becoming Head of the Cabinet of the European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek.

Catherine Ashton announced the appointment of Helga Schmid and Maciej Popowski only days after she appointed Piere Vimont as the Executive Secretary General and David O'Sullivan as the Chief Operating Officer for the future External Action Service. She made the announcements after the Council endorsed the complete legal base for the EAS (adoption of the EAS Decision on 26 July and the amendments to the Staff and Financial Regulation on 25 October). The EAS will start operating by the end of this year.

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