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Inside the External Action Service: Institutional Change and Its Impact on the European Political Order

Thomas Henökl

The creation of the post of the High Representative (HR/VP) together with the establishment of the EuropeanExternal Action Service (EEAS) have a significant impact not only on European foreign policy-making, but also,more widely, on the transformation of the European political order, and represent a further step towards theevolution of a European administrative space. What makes the EEAS a special case is that this neworganisation, created out of Commission and Council departments and systematically also incorporatingdiplomats from the member states, has some of the characteristics of both parental institutions, and, at the sametime, introduces new elements of governance, contributing substantially to the dynamics of European executivecentre formation.After a rather rocky first year for the new service in a turbulent international environment, this paper will try andassess the status quo of the organisational change process and analyse its effects for the European foreign policysystem. The compound nature of the EEAS and its hybrid role within the inter-institutional setting between theintergovernmental and supranational necessitate new approaches quot; for practitioners as well as forresearchers. Based on document analysis and expert interviews with EEAS officials of different institutionalprovenience, presenting a first overview of the outcomes of this institution-building exercise, we argue that theinstitutional design and format matter for both the future of the EU’s external action as well as for the Europeaninstitutional architecture as a whole.

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