In response to your article “EEAS appointments trigger mini-reshuffle” (28 October-3 November), I would like to underline that big decisions with a potentially huge impact will continue to be taken up until 1 January.
EU development ministers at least seem to be fully aware of the significance of the changes being proposed. At a dinner with Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, before a recent informal meeting in Brussels, they raised concerns already expressed by a large number of development NGOs and think-tanks, that the current European External Action Service (EEAS) proposals pay too little attention to development issues and do not include sufficient development expertise.
Without tackling these issues, it is feared that the EU’s new diplomatic service will be unable to live up to its heady ambitions of providing a comprehensive, 21st century approach to the Union’s external relations and of overcoming the problems of piecemeal approaches to foreign-policy priority countries such as Somalia and Afghanistan.
With the organisational structure still to be completed and appointments finalised, vital progress can still be made.
First, Ashton should appoint at least one official to a high-level position with a strong development background who can act as a high-level liaison with development experts in the European Commission. This should be matched by efforts by member states to second development experts, as well as foreign-policy experts, to the service.
Secondly, to ensure development thinking is properly integrated into the EU’s strategies for third countries, the EEAS needs a specific development-policy section, under the proposed thematic directorate, that will also focus on cross-cutting issues such as human rights, gender and terrorism.
The EEAS is, though, just one side of the coin, and must be complemented by a strong and efficient new EuropeAid Development and Co-operation Directorate-General (DevCo). The Commission takes the lead in the formulation of Europe’s approach to development, fosters best development practice across the EU and sets an example to donors globally. The test for DevCo over the coming months will be to ensure its structure and staffing capacity allow it to fulfil that role to the full.
Commentators have suggested that no other development agency in the world with policy ambition has a policy department as small as six people. The merger of two services allows the Commission and its development commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, to re-think this approach.
When EU development ministers gather again in Brussels at the end of November and meet Ashton and Piebalgs, it will be time to take stock of how much real progress has been made.
The European Union’s credibility and its future effectiveness are at stake.
Click Here: New Zealand rugby store