EEAS as a foreign policy actor – what comes with its new leadership?


  • Hannes Sonnsjö
  • Anna Sundberg

Publish date: 2015-02-03

Report number: FOI-R--4054--SE

Pages: 92

Written in: Swedish


  • EU
  • External Action Service
  • EEAS
  • CSDP
  • crisis management
  • Comprehensive Approach
  • the Lisbon Treaty


For the EU, 2014 has been a year of major changes. Some of these changes are of more general significance, such as the election to the EU parliament and the appointment of new commissioners, whereas other reforms are of a more structural nature in order to strengthen the EU's position in several policy areas. This study aims at describing a number of processes suggested to reform and strengthen the structures for EU civilian crisis management, with particular focus on the civilian aspects of CSDP (EU Common Security and Defense Policy). The establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in 2010 marked a step forward with regards to EU's role as a foreign policy actor and has created a more coherent crisis management structure, both civil and military. There are great expectations on the newly appointed high representative (and vice president of the Commission), Frederica Mogherini, to demonstrate a clear leadership in the EEAS. However, the findings in this study point to the fact that many challenges are embedded in the structure of the EEAS and will not be easily managed by one individual such as the high representative. The member states are still reluctant to pass over more responsibility to the EU and even today, four years after the establishment of the EEAS, a lot of work needs to be done to get the new structures in place in order to avoid competition and overlaps. The major challenges can be seen in the lack of an overarching strategy for the EU's foreign policy as a whole which in turn results in a lack of coordination, both within the EEAS as well as in relation to other actors in the EU. The study therefore concludes with a discussion of the potential for a Comprehensive Approach and to what degree this can be accomplished by better strategic guidance and outspoken objectives when planning CSDP-missions.