22nd October 2009

MEPs set to support new EU External Actions Service proposals

Strasbourg, 20th October 2009 -- The European Parliament is already steaming ahead with the creation of a foreign ministry, EU embassies and a college for training EU diplomats, even before the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified in all 27 member states, Ashley Fox MEP, Conservative constitutional affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, warned today.

Mindful that the European Commission and the Council of Ministers has already begun work on the creation of the External Action Service (EEAS), the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs committee last night pushed through an emergency report setting out its position. The committee’s report will be voted on by the full parliament this Thursday lunchtime.

Although the service will be headed by the ‘High Representative’ – previously known as the EU’s foreign minister in the European Constitution – MEPs are demanding powers to control much of its work.

The EEAS would create “Union embassies” by merging Commission delegations and Council liaison offices outside the EU, and senior appointments to these embassies would be subject to a parliamentary hearing.

MEPs also want the service to fall under the EU budget and be part of the European Commission so that the parliament has significant control over its activities.

MEPs are also expected to demand the creation of a European diplomatic college to train EEAS staff.

Mr Fox said:

"The EU clearly has ambitions to develop its own foreign policy and the creation of a de facto foreign ministry is a step too far.

"To have a diplomatic corps answering to MEPs rather than national governments would be detrimental to Britain’s interests.

"A dedicated diplomatic college to train an army of EU diplomats is a total unnecessary waste of taxpayer’s money.

"The EU is once again demonstrating its lack of respect for constitutional processes of the Czech Republic by pre-empting its ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

"We are already seeing how far the EU will use the powers of the Lisbon Treaty to fulfil its ambitions to become a world power, supplanting Britain’s place as a player on the world stage."


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