Tuesday, October 19, 2010

EU Parliament Pushes Forward on EEAS Final Legislation

The European Parliament voted in a decisive show-of-hands vote today that it will move forward with the finalization of plans on the European External Action Service (EEAS). 

The vote was focused on relaxing staffing rules, following early demands by newer and less well-represented member states to enshrine into law measures gauranteeing geographical and gender balance in the EU's new diplomatic service, set to launch December 1st. 

The official vote will take place tomorrow in Strasbourg, home of the European Parliament. At the same time, representatives will also be voting to relax the EEAS' budget rules. 

Drafted by German MEP (Member of European Parliament) Bernhard Rapkay, the bill seeks ensure for the EEAS the “highest standard of ability, efficiency and integrity, recruited on the broadest possible geographical basis from among nationals of member states,” the European Voice reports

The service's staff should comprise an “appropriate and meaningful presence of nationals from all the member states." The rules also foresee the promotion of equal opportunities to ensure a better balance between men and women. 

Pan-EU balance remains a bone of contention among many of the EU's states, especially its new members which typically hail from Eastern and largely ex-Soviet republics such as Romania and Bulgaria. On gender, many leaders across Europe have demanded there be a set minimum for women in senior positions, a result of the generally progressive attitudes in Europe advocating women's professional equality

Promising geographical as well as gender balance is seen by these states as a way of securing a decent footing within the fledgling diplomatic corps.

Editorially speaking, the loosening-up of gender and geographical balance will surely allow the EEAS more of the room it needs to maneuver a successful start. Whether the lack of gaurantees for balance will rear its ugly head down the road, however, remains very much an open question.

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