The European External Action Service (EEAS) and EU delegations have developed the notion of 'being of service to EU member states' in EU foreign policy making as their unique selling point. In this paper, we investigate why those EU foreign policy actors felt the need to establish a perception of being legitimate in the first place. We also analyse how the EEAS and EU delegations have sought to establish internal political legitimacy in the EU system over the past five years. Using role theory to capture this quest for legitimacy, conflicting expectations for the EEAS and the EU delegations become apparent. In order to explore the roles of these two parts of the EU foreign policy system, we trace the expectations of 'roles' expressed during the Convention on the Future of Europe and the Lisbon Treaty and how the EEAS and the system of delegations responded to the practice of EU foreign policy after Lisbon. Because the EEAS and EU delegations were treated as separate parts during the discussions of the time, we will be able to compare what impact different levels of contestation of roles have for the legitimacy of diplomatic bodies and whether these differences also lead to different strategies for the construction of legitimacy in practice.
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