Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

British presidency rules out progress on EU diplomatic service

12th September 2005

No moves to create EU External Action Service during presidency

BRUSSELS, 12 September 2005 -- The UK presidency of the EU has ruled out any progress towards the creation of an EU diplomatic service - a key part of the EU constitution - during the rest of the year following a question tabled by Charles Tannock MEP, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman in the European Parliament.

The so-called External Action Service "is one of the provisions of the Constitutional Treaty; as such, it shall take effect only when the Treaty itself comes into force", the presidency said in a written answer.

The presidency's response is an emphatic message to supporters of the constitution who had been hoping to implement parts of the constitution by stealth regardless of the resounding No votes in France and the Netherlands.

But Dr Tannock said he and other Conservative MEPs would maintain pressure on future presidencies to take a similarly robust line as the UK presidency.

Dr Tannock said:

"Immediately after the resounding No Votes in France and the Netherlands there was considerable hope among federalists that ways would still be found to introduce many of the constitutional proposals by stealth as has sometimes been the case in the past.

"It has been repeatedly stated in many quarters, including the British press, that the External Action Service would be one such example of a proposal which somehow would be salvaged and introduced without the EU constitution coming into force.

"Clearly the EU Council and Commission have finally realised that the peoples of Europe do not feel that the case for further integration of our foreign policy machinery has been convincingly made and I welcome this refreshing willingness for the EU to respond to the democratic will of the people."