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Brussels, 25 March 2010

HR/VP Catherine Ashton presents vision for European External Action Service

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President Catherine Ashton has today presented her draft proposals on the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The proposals come following extensive consultations with the European Commission, European Union Member States and the European Parliament.

Presenting her proposals, Catherine Ashton said: "The Lisbon Treaty offers the opportunity to build a modern policy for the modern world – moving beyond traditional diplomacy. The EEAS I want is a comprehensive service to craft a distinctive European response to the 21st century agenda. A service that represents the best that Europe has to offer. We can only punch our weight if we pull together all the different strands of our external action."

She added: "The EEAS is called a service for a reason. It is there to work for the President of the European Commission and the other European Commissioners, for the President of the European Council and Member States, and for the members of the European Parliament too. I have agreed with President Barroso and Commissioners Piebalgs and Füle on how we will manage the different development and cooperation programmes and that the EEAS will be our common service in this respect."

The proposals will now be the basis of further discussions with Member States with a view to their approval as soon as possible. This follows the adoption by the European Commission on Wednesday of the proposal of the revision of the Financial Regulation and the first step in the revision of the Staff Regulation. All elements are therefore now on the table to advance on putting the EEAS in place.

The Commission has authorised Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič to start consultations with the staff representatives on the basis of the draft proposal. Following these consultations, which will take place both within the Commission and with staff representatives from the other EU institutions, the Commission will officially adopt its proposal. The final text of the Regulation amending the Staff Regulations and the Conditions of Employment will be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

The proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations and the Conditions of Employment are intended to create the necessary conditions for the smooth functioning of the EEAS. They will allow staff from national diplomatic services, from the Council and the Commission to work together in this new service on an equal footing.

With the support of Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget, Janusz Lewandowski, the EEAS will be treated as an autonomous institution in budgetary terms. This means that it will manage its own administrative budget for which it will be responsible before the European Parliament.

However, as under the current rules only the European Commission can implement the EU's operational budget (such as development aid), the College agreed that EEAS heads of delegations worldwide will be exceptionally allowed to manage operational expenditure on behalf of the European Commission .

For HR/VP Ashton's speaking points please see: SPEECH/10/129

For the draft proposals on the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS), please see:

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