The Multilateralist

The woes of Europe’s foreign ministry

The woes of Europe’s foreign ministry

The Economist offers up here a good summary of the turbulent takeoff of the European Union’s new foreign policy arm, the External Action Service (EEAS):

Any new organisation is bound to have its teething problems, particularly one such as the EEAS, which incorporates functions that had been performed by several officers, and which must reconcile the aims and prejudices of 27 different countries. The service, moreover, has been systematically undermined by the European Commission, and by the bigger beasts among the foreign ministers. But much of the trouble boils down to poor leadership, ie, Lady Ashton. There are some first-rate people in the EEAS. But the stories of chaos in her entourage and despair among her subordinates are worryingly commonplace.

The early struggles for the EEAS were so overdetermined that it’s awfully hard to disentangle the particular sins of Ashton as a leader.