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Using the Opportunity of the EEAS Review for Controlling the Agent. A Principle-Agent Method in Explaining the EU's Diplomatic Service

Ilze Ruse

The functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS) has been a much discussed and highly controversial issue since its establishment in 2010. By constructing one single actor for EU external policy, the EEAS now has to deal with finding most efficient ways of accommodating the interests of the EU member states and those of the EU institutions. The paper applies the Principle-Agent method to examine the delegation of EU external policy to the EEAS. The vague mentioning of the EEAS in the Lisbon Treaty and the inter-institutional negotiations preceding the July 2010 Council Decision on the organisation and functioning of the EEAS illustrate how Member States have decided to leave a remarkable degree of autonomy to the new external relations agent. However, as Principle-Agent theory suggests, any agent that is left with great discretion will form a life of its own, from which the EEAS has been no exception in light of the proposals for change in the mid-2013 EEAS review. The paper argues that given that the Member States failed to integrate the desired degree of control in the 2010 Council Decision, their efforts are mobilised at the time of the 2013 review. The paper highlights the means of control that the principles, the Member States, have employed to sanction the EEAS against future policy drifts or expanded competences, and what control mechanisms are strengthened by using the opportunity of the EEAS review in 2013.

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