This lovely Wednesday morning we are heading to the European External Action Service, or the EEAS. I arrived at our meeting location, Exki—a grab and go restaurant with lots of healthy food options (and a new group favorite!)—a few minutes early so I grabbed a tea. I met up with the rest of the group shortly after and we walked next door to the EEAS.
After checking in and going through security, we were escorted to a press briefing room where we remained for the rest of our visit. Our first briefing was from a Strategic Communications Officer who presented to us some information on the role of the EEAS.
The EEAS was formed in January of 2011 with the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. It was meant to be a platform for policy coherence and to find common ground between the three main EU Institutions—the Commission, the Council, and the Parliament. The main roles of the EEAS are to be the voice of the UE, work on a common foreign and security policy issues with member states, have a strong relationship with the United Nations and other international organizations, and to be responsible for EU delegations and offices around the world. There are over 140 delegations of the EU around the world! Essentially, the EEAS is the EU’s foreign ministry. It is headed by the High Representative, who is currently Federica Mogherini of Italy (and a favorite of Dr. B’s). She’s kind of like the EU’s foreign minister, and represents them internationally.
We discussed the main priorities of the EEAS, which include security and defense, supporting global governance, working to foster world peace, and helping the peace process and agreements. The EU and its member states is the largest funder of development aid and one of the largest humanitarian donors. This is one of the ways that the EU stays true to its value of championing human rights and supports the EU as a peace project. We talked more about the variety of Civilian and Military peacekeeping operations before moving on to areas of defense and security. There is a connection between climate change, migration, and terrorism that contribute to areas of conflict and tension. These tend to be areas where the EU sends peacekeeping missions. We learned a lot in this briefing!
Our second briefing was more specific to EU/US relations. We discussed security, trade, energy and climate, and foreign policy cooperation with a specialist in EU and US policies. The EU is the United States’ largest trading partner and many EU member states are also NATO allies. The United States has a long and friendly relationship with the EU. With the new administration imposing tariffs on aluminum and steel, and the EU responding with tariffs of its own, it threatens to destabilize the current world order. There are also different perspectives of the US and EU relationship depending on regions of Europe. Western Europe is more concerned on its trade and economic relationship, while Eastern Europe is more concerned with security due to its neighbor being Russia. The development of the EU and US relationship over the next few years will be one to keep an eye on, and any drastic changes will be felt across the globe.
We concluded our time at the EEAS, but the day is not over yet. We split off into groups for lunch, and we will be meeting next at the European Parliament for meetings with MEPs!