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Bureaucratic Politics and the European External Action Service: Organizing for Efficiency or Incoherence?

Michael E Smith

The process of organizing the EEAS since 2010 has provoked conflicts between EU member states, between major EU institutions, and among various senior EU officials. This paper analyzes these changes and incorporates evidence from elite interviews conducted with nearly 50 senior EU officials to examine the complex bureaucratic politics within the EEAS. The political conflicts here can be grouped under three general headings: a longstanding clash between the EU's development and security policy agendas; a more recent (since 2003) clash between the use/control of civilian versus military instruments in the conduct of EU foreign/security policy; and a recent "third dimension": a clash between the humanitarian assistance agenda and the emergency response agenda (the EEAS Managing Director for Crisis Response and Operational Coordination). These conflicts, and the more general relationship of the EEAS to other EU bodies, call into question whether the EEAS will improve the coherence of EU foreign/security policy.

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