This Tuesday, June 25th, we got the privilege to visit the European External Action Service (EEAS). The EEAS is the European Union’s version of the State Department, handling a common foreign and security policy as well as a common security and defense policy. We got to hear from two speakers: Chris Kendall, the coordinator for the Commission Group on External Action and Michal Adamowicz, a Political Policy Officer for the United States and Canada Division.
Mr. Kendall has worked for the European Union for 24 years and left working for the Commission to join the EEAS in 2011. Of the 4,300 staff Kendall said 1/3 of EEAS employees come from the Commission, 1/3 from the Council of the EU, and the remaining 1/3 from the member states. His briefing was a general overview of the EEAS, including the role and priorities of the EEAS as the EU’s foreign and security policy service. The EEAS is not an institution or an agency, it’s a service. The EEAS was officially established in 2011 under the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. It guides the work of 140 EU delegations and offices.
The “leader” of the EEAS is Federica Mogherini, the former Italian Foreign Minister. She currently holds the titles of the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and the Vice President of the Commission. She is the European Union’s Chief Diplomat. Mogherini chairs meetings every month with the Foreign Ministers from the member states as well as the heads of the European Defense Agency. Her role in the EU is one of the most monumental offices.
The EEAS represents the European Union bilaterally with all non-EU partner countries and multilaterally with partner organizations like NATO and the UN. One of the EEAS’s main goals is to help promote peace and stability globally. The EEAS does this through a common security and defense policy (CSDP) and a common foreign and security policy (CFSP). CSDP falls within CFSP. There have been 32 CSDP operations since 2013 and there are 16 ongoing missions. The personnel, budget, and equipment needed for these operations is supplied by the individual member states. It is not paid for by the European Union. In order for a policy to be implemented, it needs to be agreed upon unanimously. The EEAS takes an intergovernmental approach to decisions instead of a community approach. They use external policy outside of the EU to help secure the member states by stabilizing insecure states. The EEAS is also the world’s largest aid donor. Aid is unconditional where there are not standards that need to be met in order for a country to receive aid; it just has to be agreed upon unanimously.
Michal Adamowicz talked to us about EU / US relations through the EEAS. Because Chatham House Rules applied during both these briefings, I can not quote too much. The main discussion topics were about trade / economics, security, the environment / energy, and foreign policy. We talked about how the current presidential administration is affecting the current relationship between the EU and the US, and how the EEAS is adjusting to the changes. The EU and the US do not always see eye to eye in any of the issues discussed, but the EU is still trying to preserve the relationship between the two.
The overall theme we learned was that the European Union will always want to work with the United States. The two combined represent almost half of the world’s GDP and are two of the biggest superpowers. A positive and connecting relationship between them will help them both grow. While the EU is trying to overcome challenges presented to them from the United States, the future still remains bright for their relationship. All in all, the two can protect their identities as well as preserve democracy and freedom by working together.