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The EEAS Game of Musical Chairs

The EEAS Game of Musical ChairsOne of the latest news from the High Representative Ashton is the appointment of 25 new Heads of EU Delegations around the world. This new wave of appointments is part of the 2011 rotating period.

The list of appointees is composed of 16 individuals from Member States, seven from the EEAS, and two from the European Commission. Even in this new round of appointments, the majority of the prestigious posts go to individuals from Member States such as the UN, India, Turkey, DRC, Japan, WTO, and Kazakhstan, among others. As proven by the table below, the EEAS representatives landed in ‘second-ranked’ delegations at the exception of the delegation to Italy. In terms of national representations, France gets the largest pool of diplomats with seven appointees, while Italy figures second with three. The UK and Czech Republic are tied for the third place with two representatives each. Two new-comers from this pool should be highlighted: first, the appointment of the very experienced French diplomat Mr. Ripert at the Head of the Delegation to Turkey. Second, Pedro Serrano did not keep his post of Head of the EU Delegation to the UN; he has been replaced by the Austrian Mr. Mayr-Harting, who is very familiar with the UN system and structures as he is currently the Austrian ambassador to the UN.

During a discussion with an EU official in New York last year, I wondered about the need to create some kind of European diplomatic school in order to train the future European diplomats and foster a true European diplomatic corps. He replied that the role of Member States is needed for the growth and development of the EU as a global and diplomatic actor. Having on one side a group of EU diplomats heading all the EU delegations and on the other side the Member States’ embassies would tend to create a double-headed monster. Thus, institutionally, the questions of foreign affairs remain under the control of the Member States.

As underlined in the press report, appointments concerning several delegations remain inconclusive, such as the ones in Kosovo, Syria, Uzbekistan, Mali and Chile. In other delegations, such as in Egypt, FYROM, Eritrea, and Jerusalem, the process is still ongoing. It is quite troublesome to see a longer process for the appointment of the next head of the Delegation to Egypt. With the current political crisis and fast growing events in Egypt, the EU needs to be more visible and present in building bridges with civil society and other social groups, while fostering relations with the current government.

Last but not least, HR Ashton, as usual, has been careful in trying to find a certain gender equality in the distribution of the positions.

The table below shows the appointed representative to his/her new duty:

The EEAS Game of Musical Chairs

The EEAS Game of Musical Chairs





Maxime H.A. Larivé

Maxime Larivé holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and European Politics from the University of Miami (USA). He is currently working at the EU Center of Excellence at the University of Miami as a Research Associate. His research focus on the questions of the European Union, foreign policy analysis, security studies, and European security and defense policy. Maxime has published several articles in the Journal of European Security, Perceptions, and European Union Miami Analysis as well as World Politics Review.