, the European Union's foreign policy chief, has finally reached agreement with the European Parliament's main negotiators on the EU's future diplomatic service, European External Action Service
The agreement, concluded after talks in Madrid today (21 July), will make it possible for Lady Ashton and her staff to prepare recruitment for the most senior positions in the new service before the summer-break and for the EEAS to begin its work later this year.
Parliament was thought to be the biggest remaining opposition to her plans for the new external service, and indeed many meetings had been held beforehand to resolve the MEPs’ concerns (14th April, 27th April, 10th May, 27th May and 8th June) since they need to give their consent via a plenary vote.
The meeting in Spain today, one of the last to be hosted during the country’s presidency of the European Council, is reported to have lasted several hours and was attended by the foreign minister of Spain Miguel Ángel Moratinos
, Maroš Šefčovič
, the Commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration and the lead negotiating MEPs on the matter: centre-right Elmar Brok
(EPP, DE), Guy Verhofstadt
(ALDE, BE) and Roberto Gualtieri
(S&D, IT).In a joint statement
, the participants “committed themselves to seek endorsement of the package by their respective institutions as soon as possible
” on the basis of the agreement reached today.
In addition the statement states the parties have reached agreement on the text of two Declarations by the High Representative: on political accountability and on the basic structure of the central administration, and that all sides have agreed they have now to “work constructively for the solution of the remaining questions in particular the adoption of the Financial Regulation and the Staff Regulations
However, the struggle isn’t over yet. According to participants in today's meeting, the formal agreement by the Parliament's plenary will only come once a few remaining questions are clarified…
But already there is a feeling amongst the Parliamentarians that they have won a few battles in this process – after all it is proving very capable and will to flex its muscles with the new powers afforded to it by the Lisbon Treaty