The EEAS is an institution independent of the Council and the Commission. The EEAS has its headquarters in Brussels and around 140 EU Delegations (“EU embassies”) in third countries and at international organisations. In late July 2010, the Council approved the arrangements for the organisation and functioning of the EEAS. The EEAS began its work in December 2010. Following a phase of extensive development, it has raised the EU’s visibility in the field of foreign policy.
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy
The role of High Representative brings together three functions that had previously been performed by different people: the former High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the former Commissioner for External Relations and the former chair of the Foreign Affairs Council (a post that previously rotated between the Member States). The High Representative serves as one of the Vice-Presidents of the European Commission, and is also charged with coordinating other aspects of external action on its behalf. She represents the EU on CFSP issues, a role previously fulfilled by the rotating Presidency.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) supports the High Representative in performing the tasks laid down for this role in the Treaty of Lisbon, both in the CFSP/CSDP sphere and as Vice-President of the European Commission. It works closely with the diplomatic services of the Member States. The EU’s crisis management structures have also been integrated into the EEAS. They plan and organise EU missions within the scope of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
A third of EEAS staff come from the diplomatic services of the Member States, and are seconded to the EEAS for a limited period. German diplomats hold various high-ranking positions in the EEAS. As Deputy Secretary General, Helga Schmid is a member of the Corporate Board.