Dan Smith, Secretary General of International Alert and author of The State of the Middle East, has written a new blog post about the European Commission’s apparent attempt to inflict major damage on the new External Action Service’s ability to produce good peacebuilding policy. Smith examines the issues, the opposition, and the stakes below.

Time to rescue the EU’s External Action Service from the European Commission

The air in Brussels is thick with a storm over the European External Action Service, basically caused by the European Commission trying to break its word.

If unchecked, the course the Commission is taking would seriously damage the EAS’s potential peacebuilding role. With that, it would deny EU High Representative Catherine Ashton the service committed to conflict prevention, security and stability she has spent this year trying to build.

So the stakes are high and it is time for Commission President Barroso to step in and stop it – and, if he does not so with alacrity, for the EU’s member states to step up and put some pressure on him to enforce the simple of principle of keeping your word.

The Issues

So what on earth is going on? So far as I can piece it together, the basic story really is as simple as the Commission trying to break or at least circumvent the agreement that it signed up to over the shape of the EAS in Madrid in June, confirmed by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in July.

At issue are the peacebuilding and crisis response policy officers in DG Relex (External Relations) in the Commission. So far none of them has been transferred to the EAS. Unless the Commission is forced to back down, they will carry on being excluded. Hard security and counter-terror policy officers have transferred across and so have Common Foreign and Security Policy people – but not the ones from peacebuilding.

Read the full post on Dan Smith’s blog.