Brussels, 25 October 2010
European External Action Service (EAS) - adoption of final legal acts
The legal decision establishing the EAS was adopted by the Council on 26 July 2010. The decision provides the overall framework for the functioning of the EAS, but is not operational until amendments to two legal acts, the Staff Regulation and the Financial Regulation, are adopted and a start-up budget for 2010 is agreed. The European Parliament adopted these on 20 October 2010, they now await the formal adoption by the Council.
Why are the changes needed?
The revised Staff Regulation reflects a number of issues, which were discussed and agreed in the context of negotiating the EAS decision, such as the balance at AD-level between temporary officials coming from the Diplomatic Services of the Member States (at least a third) and permanent EU officials (at least 60%).
Additional provisions have been introduced at the initiative by the European Parliament, in particular relating to the principle of independence from national governments of seconded staff from Member States.
The issue of geographical and gender balance in EAS recruitments was intensively discussed during the co-decision procedure. The revised Staff Regulation provides for the principle of recruitment of officials of the highest standard of ability, efficiency and integrity, recruited on the broadest possible geographical basis. It also states that the staff shall comprise an appropriate and meaningful presence of nationals from all Member States. On gender balance the revised text asks the HR to take appropriate measures for promoting equal opportunities between men and women. The legal text is supplemented by formal statements by the High Representative, in which she engages herself to make full use of all the possibilities offered in the Staff Regulation to promote gender and geographic balance. An annual monitoring of progress has been agreed, as well as an overall report to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission by mid-2013
Why are the changes needed?
The revised Financial Regulation sets out the consequences of the EAS being treated as an institution in the management of its administrative budget. In particular, rules on budget discharge are laid down, based on the principle that the EAS in practice should be subject to the same discharge procedure as the Commission. The text spells out the necessary information to be provided to the Budget Authority, in writing or through presence of EAS officials in the conduct of the discharge procedure. In general the revised Regulation underlines the high degree of transparency and financial accountability that will be applied by the EAS. It has been agreed that until further notice the Commissions internal auditor will act as internal auditor for the EAS. This arrangement will be reviewed in 2013.
The detailed rules for the Heads of Delegation in managing operational funds is another important element of the revised Financial Regulation. The EU Heads of Delegation around the world will be responsible for the management of EU Funds relating to the various EU external assistance programmes, through subdelegation from the Commission, who has the overall responsibility for the financial execution of these funds. The revised Financial Regulation spells out the various safeguards that are necessary to handle these operations, including how to act in case of irregularities, including possible disciplinary action and payment of compensation.
Amending budget 2010
In order to get the EAS up and running it is necessary to provide the Service with the necessary budgetary means to cover the senior management team to be appointed in the near future and minimum “support functions” such as personnel and financial administration, and press. It is also urgent to reinforce the EU Delegations around the world to build up their political capacity linked to the taking over the functions formerly performed by the rotating presidencies (80 posts). The total budget request for 2010 is EUR 9.5 million. The formal transfer of staff from the Council Secretariat and Commission contained in Annex I of the EAS Decision will take effect from 1 January 2011.