Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

European External Action Service

Delivered in Plenary - 19th October 2010

Mr President

The set-up of the hybrid sui generis EEAS has been characterised by much debate, but High Representative Ashton deserves some credit for crafting a consensus on the way forward at a time when European leaders have been distracted by the eurozone crisis. British Conservatives opposed the creation of this service, fearing it would erode Britainís prerogative to exercise an independent foreign policy. Now that the service is a political reality, we will engage with it constructively in order to ensure that British interests are indeed promoted and protected.

One way is by lobbying for British EU officials and British diplomats from the Foreign Office to fill posts in the service, because surprisingly, the UK is under-represented in the EU institutions. While the new service needs to be representative of the EUís 27 Member States, it must be built first and foremost on merit.

Finally, Member States are making deep cuts in public spending. The EU must be sensitive to the need for austerity, particularly when it comes to the budget of the EEAS. Budget neutrality is vital if the European External Action Service is to gain and retain the confidence and approval of all of Europeís citizens.