In the first year and a half of its existence, the EEAS and its head have become the target of extensive criticism for the shortcomings of EU foreign policy; shortcomings that in fact date back to the creation of the European Union. The EU’s diplomatic service has been blamed variously for ‘lacking clarity,’ ‘acting too slowly’ and ‘being unable to bridge the institutional divide’.
In this Commentary author Hrant Kostanyan argues that the EEAS’ discretionary power in the Eastern Partnership multilateral framework is restricted by the decision-making procedures between a wide range of stakeholders: the member states and the partner countries, as well as by the EU institutions, international organisations and the Civil Society Forum.
Since this decision-making process places a substantial number of brakes on the discretionary power of the EEAS, any responsible analysis or critique of the service should take these constraints into consideration. Ultimately, the EEAS is only able to craft EU foreign policy insofar as it is allowed to do so.
Hrant Kostanyan is Associate Research Fellow at CEPS.