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EU Delegations in Contemporary Diplomacy


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EU Delegations in Contemporary Diplomacy

  1. 1. MAASTRICHT UNIVERSITY Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Master’s Degree European Studies EU delegations in contemporary diplomacy A new potential in a changing world? Supervisor Jost-Henrik Morgenstern-Pomorski Student Silvia Perino Vaiga Academic Year 2015/2016
  2. 2. EU delegations in contemporary diplomacy A new potential in a changing world? Hereby I, Silvia Perino Vaiga, declare that I have authored this thesis independently; all use of other works and thoughts have been properly referenced. Silvia Perino Vaiga 30-06-2016 MAES Thesis Number of Words 14476 Final Draft
  3. 3. III Abstract The world of diplomacy is rapidly changing, moving from a state-based conception towards a new, multi-level and multi-actor dimension. In this mutating panorama, the European Union is emerging as a new protagonist, a potential key player in contemporary diplomacy. This thesis takes a closer look to the features and practices of EU delegations in order to establish what is their potential to play a distinctive role in contemporary diplomacy, in light of the way they perform and the actors they relate to. Based on the in- depth analysis of the delegations’ institutional setting and resources, the paper assesses that, although lacking a state to represent, EU delegations retain all the necessary instruments to perform traditional diplomatic tasks. Testing this assumption on the case of the EU delegation to Canada and the CETA, it further highlights that EU delegations privilege institution-oriented services over consumer-oriented ones. These conclusions are relevant as they show that EU delegations prove capable of acting as fully fledged diplomatic actors on behalf of the EU. In this light, they have the potential to become the pioneers of new practices in the emerging multi-layered and multi-actor diplomacy.
  4. 4. IV Content Illustrations....................................................................................................................... V Abbreviations................................................................................................................... VI 1. Introduction............................................................................................................... 7 2. EU Delegations: the state of the art........................................................................ 10 2.1 The origins of external delegations: a 60 years-long debate ............................... 10 2.1.1 Before Lisbon.................................................................................................. 10 2.1.2 After Lisbon .................................................................................................... 12 2.4 EU delegations in contemporary literature .......................................................... 16 2.5 Relevance of the study.......................................................................................... 20 3. Theoretical Framework........................................................................................... 21 4. Methodology........................................................................................................... 25 4.1 Operationalisation and data collection ................................................................ 25 4.2 Case study selection.............................................................................................. 27 4.3 Research limitations.............................................................................................. 28 5. Analysis.................................................................................................................... 29 5.1 EU delegations: diplomacy without a State?........................................................ 29 5.1.1 Defined foreign policy.................................................................................... 30 5.1.2 Material resources ......................................................................................... 32 5.1.3 Head of state.................................................................................................. 35 5.1.4 Professional diplomats................................................................................... 37 5.1.5 A new level of state-less diplomacy............................................................... 40 5.2 Case study: the EU delegation to Canada and the CETA. Consumer-oriented diplomacy?.................................................................................................................. 42 6. Discussion of the findings........................................................................................ 48 7. Conclusion............................................................................................................... 50 8. References............................................................................................................... 52
  5. 5. V Illustrations List of figures Figure 1. Types of activities performed by Commission delegations............................. 23 Figure 2 Allocation of the EEAS budget between headquarters and delegations ......... 33 Figure 3. Staff categories include officials, temporary agents, contract agents and local agents ............................................................................................................................. 34 Figure 4. Evolution of Member States Diplomats as a proportion of EEAS AD staff ..... 38 Figure 5. Balance in the activities of EU delegation to Canada with regard to CETA .... 46 List of tables Table 1. List of conducted interviews………………………………………………………….……….……….27 Table 2. The four dimensions of “Diplomacy without a State”…..………………………………… 30 Table 3. Institutional actors for the external representation of the EU…………………….…...36 Table 4. Diplomacy without a State: comparison between Commission delegations and EU delegations…………………………..…………………………………………………………………..…………………..41
  6. 6. VI Abbreviations AD: Administrators (European Union staff) CETA: EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement CFSP: Common Foreign and Security Policy EC: European Commission EEAS: European External Action Service EU: European Union EUDS: European Union Diplomatic System HoD: Head of Delegation HR: High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy IOs: International Organisations TEU: Treaty on the European Union TFEU: Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union US: United States of America
  7. 7. 7 1. Introduction On 28 June 2016 High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR) Federica Mogherini officially presented to EU leaders the “European Union Global Strategy for Common Foreign and Security Policy”. The document seeks to provide a strategic vision for the Union’s role in the world. In its Foreword, HR Mogherini notes how the EU, also thanks to its diplomatic network, running “wide and deep in all corners of the globe”, has now an unparalleled potential to make its voice heard globally. Mogherini also highlights, however, that “we are not making full use of this potential yet”. Depending on its capacity to make the best out of its institutional and political instruments, the European Union will determine its future role in global diplomacy. This idea, as expressed by HR Mogherini, is not a novelty: indeed, it was the ratio behind the 2009 Lisbon Treaty which – with the introduction of the European External Action Service (EEAS) – completely redefined the Union’s approach to foreign policy. Being it “the first supranational diplomatic service of its kind”, the EEAS represents a major step not only in the European external action, but also in the practice of global diplomacy as such (Cross, 2011, p. 447). Five years after its establishment, the EEAS is still a “work in progress”, gradually defining its space and modus operandi among other EU institutions. Based on these factors, a number of studies have reflected on the potential for the EU to become a unitary actor in global diplomacy (Keukeleire, 2003; Spence, 2004; Duke 2009; Koops & Macaj eds. 2015), also highlighting criticalities in the relation with its Member States (see, for instance: Balfour & Raik, 2013; Cross, 2011; Pomorska &Vanhoonacker, 2015), or observing the EU performance in specific policy fields, such as global economy (Damro, 2012; Woolcock, 2012; Conceição-Heldt, 2014). While this holistic approach is useful in contextualising EU actorness in the broader global setting, it misses an in-depth reflection on the operative side of the Union’s diplomatic system.
  8. 8. 8 That is why the present study chooses to approach the topic of EU diplomacy focusing on its key operational elements: EU delegations. The representatives of the EU in third countries and at international organisations, EU delegations resemble what in national diplomacies is called a diplomatic mission. Besides simply representing the Union’s interests, EU delegations shall also ensure the unity, consistency and effectiveness of the EU external action towards the country/organisation where they are accredited (Council of the European Union, 2010). What makes the role of delegations extremely relevant is their operative contribution to the implementation of a common European approach to global diplomacy. Considering the above mentioned elements, the aim of this research is therefore to answer the following question: what is the potential for EU delegations to play a distinctive role in contemporary diplomacy, in light of the way they perform and the actors they relate to? Answering this question serves two major purposes. Firstly, by taking a closer look to EU delegations, the instruments they have at their disposal and the type of services they provide, the thesis will contribute to the literature on EU delegations which, although in expansion, still represents a niche within the debate on EU external relations (see, for instance: Comelli & Matarazzo, 2011; Drieskens, 2012; Helly et al., 2014, Maurer & Raik, 2014; Dermendzhiev, 2014). Secondly, the research will add a new perspective to the academic debate on EU diplomacy and its relevance on the global stage, as it is described above. Based on the analytical framework elaborated in 1999 by Michael Bruter to examine the diplomatic performance of Commission delegations before Lisbon, our observations will firstly establish which factors make EU delegations diverge from and/or resemble to state-based diplomatic missions. This evaluation will serve to highlight the features, legitimacy and potential of EU delegations in contemporary diplomacy: we will establish that the non-state character of EU diplomacy does not necessarily hinder its diplomatic capacity, nor its potential. The second part of the analysis will therefore test this assumption on the specific case of the EU delegation to Canada in the negotiation and pre-ratification process of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. The overall timeframe runs from 2009 to 2016, but the observation will mostly focus on the period after the establishment of the EEAS (from 2010 on). Elaborating the results of a series of
  9. 9. 9 interviews to EU officials involved at various levels in this process, we will inspect which types of services prevailed in the delegation’s activity, and to which actors these services were directed. This will allow us to state whether EU delegations are mostly oriented towards traditional or consumer-oriented forms of diplomacy (Bruter, 1999). The thesis will conclude that, thanks to the upgrade they received with the Treaty of Lisbon and the establishment of the EEAS, EU delegations now represent fully legitimate and capable actors in global diplomacy. They retain all the necessary instruments to perform traditional diplomatic tasks: they also privilege institution- oriented services over consumer-oriented ones. Moreover, they prove capable of coordinating EU policy objectives abroad, boosting coherence and effectiveness in the European external action. In a sentence, responding to our research question, EU delegations retain the potential of becoming the pioneers of new practices in the emerging multi-layered and multi-actor diplomacy. The thesis is structured as follows. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the delegations’ institutional and historical foundations, thus analyzing the state of the art of the academic discussion on the topic. In Chapters 3 and 4 the theoretical framework and the methodology are introduced. The analysis is carried out in Chapter 5, which also outlines the research’s main findings. These are discussed in Chapter 6, which thoroughly answers the paper’s research question.
  10. 10. 10 2. EU Delegations: the state of the art This thesis aims at adding a new case to the academic debate on EU delegations, their complex interinstitutional relations and their role in global diplomacy. For this reason, it seems necessary to firstly provide a preliminary overview of the delegations’ institutional and historical foundations, thus analyzing their new formal positioning in the post-Lisbon setting. This will not only guide the reader in understanding the functioning of today’s EU delegations, but it will also – and most importantly – contextualize the topic within the broader academic discussion. 2.1 The origins of external delegations: a 60 years-long debate 2.1.1 Before Lisbon EU delegations are among the main operative actors of the European diplomatic network, representing the Union in third countries and at international organizations. Their creation in the present configuration is consequential to the establishment, in 2010, of the European External Action Service (EEAS), which rearranged the organization of the EU external representation, in line with the provision of the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon. However, EU delegations were not created from scratch: up to the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Commission was externally represented by the so-called Commission delegations, whose role has undergone a continuous transition towards gaining more responsibilities and more recognition from third actors. Their history has its roots in the early 1950s, when the European Commission (hereafter: the EC or the Commission) opened its first offices in strategic capitals, such as London and Washington (Bruter, 1999; Drieskens, 2012). But it was only during the 1960s that the European external representation flourished around the world, mainly to coordinate the implementation of the European Commission’s projects in developing countries. From then on, the network of EU delegations grew to approximately 130 missions around the world, serving the European Commission External Service (Spence & Edwards, 2006). They were fully representing the European Commission in all the policy areas falling under its competence, from development to trade, and in many cases they were in
  11. 11. 11 charge of all the operational aspects dealing with the implementation of pre-accession programmes in acceding countries (Dermendzhiev, 2014). Crucially, however, Commission delegations were not dealing with the European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), this being one of the main differences between the pre and post-Lisbon setting, as it will be highlighted later in the dissertation. The history of Commission Delegations interestingly reflects a political path that went more and more in the direction of merging the EU’s external competences, which was operationalized in 2002-2003 at the Convention on the Future of Europe – laying the foundation of the EEAS – and then culminated with the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, but started much earlier. In this process, the Commission played a crucial role, especially in professionalizing its external network and in upgrading the delegations’ role into a quasi-diplomatic service (Dermendzhiev, 2014; Drieskens, 2012; Spence, 2004). In particular, efforts came from the Prodi Commission that, from 1999 to 2004 worked in the direction of a further empowerment of its delegations around the world. Of particular relevance was the December 2002 decision on the reform of the EC External Service, introducing a single management structure for the delegation’s staff: the External Service Directorate. These provisions were the result of a clear political choice. Quoting Prodi’s words: “who put the EU's common foreign and security policy into practice abroad - (are) indispensable instruments in the EU's expanding role on the international stage of our globalised world” (Prodi, 2003). Besides this important recognition of the role of delegations, the Commission was fully aware of the need for the Union to increase its global position, and put itself at full disposal in accomplishing this. In its 2004 document “Taking Europe to the World. 50 years of the European Commission External Service”, the EC acknowledges that “the EU is now moving forward to a European foreign policy that is properly linked to the EU institutions which manage the instruments needed for its accomplishment” (p. 5). This is particularly meaningful, as it shows how, already in 2004, there existed a shared perception that an institutional reform was needed: it is in these political circumstances that the European External Action Service started being designed as an innovative institutional entity. As noted by Spence (2004), however, this change brought with it a number of challenges: what functions would the new Service have been called to fulfil? What would have changed in the relations with Member States’
  12. 12. 12 foreign ministries? And regarding delegations, would they have been transformed into European diplomatic representations? Or would they have retained only a technical role? In other words, the reform that would then have taken place after Lisbon, was perceived by the Commission itself as desirable and threatening at the same time. Many EC officials feared that their institution would be confined to the role of “a technical supporting structure” and that it would have lost its political role in CFSP, although this was already rather limited (Drieskens, 2012, p. 55). To sum up, the innovations introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon in the management and conduct of the European external action posed a concrete interinstitutional challenge, which of course had the delegations among the mainly involved actors. In the next section, we will provide a panoramic on the post-Lisbon institutional setting, thus highlighting what changed, at least at the level of formal provisions, after the Commission delegations were replaced by EU delegations. 2.1.2 After Lisbon As shown, the ratio behind the Lisbon Treaty’s innovations was to enhance coherence in the EU external representation by establishing a European External Action Service, representing not only the Commission, but the European Union as a whole. Quoting Kluth & Pilegaard (2012, p. 304), the EEAS itself was “designed to provide the Union with a proper identity and voice in international relations”. In other words, the ambitious project of the Treaty of Lisbon was to increase the EU’s actorness, increasing it visibility on the ground too. The Service was designed to support the reformed position of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission. Art. 27(3) TEU states that: “In fulfilling his mandate, the High Representative shall be assisted by a European External Action Service. This Service shall work in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States (…)”. Articles 18 and 27(3) TEU currently constitute the legal foundations of the EU CFSP’s new setting. The new role of EU delegations is outlined in TFEU, art. 221, where it is specified that: “Union delegations in third countries and at international organisations shall represent the Union” and that they “shall be placed under the authority of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and
  13. 13. 13 Security Policy”. Importantly, the same article, as well as articles 32 and 36 TEU, insist on the importance of cooperation between delegations and Member States’ diplomatic missions, to implement the so-called “common approach” to foreign and security policy. Formally launched on 1 December 2010, the EEAS did not encounter a warm welcome in its earlier stages. Rather, it was faced with forms of scepticism coming from both other EU institutions and Member States (Kaczynski, 2011; Pomorska & Vanhoonacker, 2015; Balfour & Raik, 2013). This, together with the physiological implementation challenges that the new Service had to face, resulted in a slow start for the EEAS, whose institutional stance was jeopardised by various attempts of limiting its autonomy (Furness, 2013). In sum, notwithstanding the attempt of the Lisbon Treaty to simplify and to assure coherence to the conduct of the EU external action, some overlaps still exist and risk to hinder the system’s efficiency. In its post-Lisbon configuration, in fact, the TEU grants competencies in the EU external action to three different institutions: the High Representative, the Presidency of the European Council and the European Commission. This inevitably rests on the EEAS, which has to act in a composite institutional setting, where it is not always easy to understand whose mandate it has to fulfil. Additionally, the Service also must respond to indications coming from the European Parliament that, as specified in the preamble of the Council Decision of 26 July 2010 establishing the Organization and Functioning of the EEAS (hereafter: 2010 Council Decision) “will fully play its role” in political, as well as legislative and budgetary matters. Considering this puzzling institutional situation, one may ask how the role of delegations was affected by this transition. As seen, from a legal perspective, the role of EU delegations is introduced by art. 221(1) TFEU: “Union delegations in third countries and at international organisations shall represent the Union”. This provision stands out for the innovation it introduces. In the new system, in fact, the Union no longer wishes to be internationally represented through delegations of only one of its institution, or through the diplomatic services of the Member State temporarily holding the rotating Presidency; rather it establishes a single diplomatic actor representing the EU as a unitary entity active globally. This reflects the ambitious plan of increasing stability and coherence of the European international voice (Wessel, 2013).
  14. 14. 14 This transition in the role and composition of EU delegations represented a major challenge for the EU entering its post-Lisbon phase. To use an effective metaphor, new delegations turned out to represent “laboratories/microcosms linking different policy areas and institutions to each other” (Maurer & Raik, 2013, p. 8) and had to adapt to a much more heterogeneous composition. Unlike Commission delegations, whose organic directly depended from the European Commission - DG RELEX, EU delegations have an interinstitutional composition. This evidently poses a challenge to the EU capacity of inter-institutional cooperation, both at structural and individual level (Curti Gialdino, 2015). An acknowledgement of this process’ complexity comes right from the words of former HR Catherine Ashton who, in the 2013 EEAS Review writes: “delegations in the field had to transform themselves overnight taking on new roles with no extra resources and without consolidated instructions or advice” (Foreword). While the Lisbon Treaty is rather vague with regard to procedural aspects of the transition, some more accurate prescriptions on formation and functions of EU delegations are provided by the 2010 Council Decision. In particular, art. 5 states that every delegation is placed under the authority of a Head of Delegation (HoD), who is directly accountable to the HR and receives instructions from the EEAS and, occasionally, from the European Commission – but just in the areas falling under its competence. This element is fundamental when considering the interinstitutional position of EU delegations: although they formally fall under the EEAS’ authority, other institutions (i.e. the Commission and the Council) still retain a considerable say in controlling their activities. As we will further inspect later in the dissertation, this is particularly true when it comes to trade diplomacy, where the European Commission has a leading position over other EU institutions (Woolcock, 2012)1 . As foreseen in the 2010 Council Decision, art. 5, it is the the HoD who formally has the power to represent the Union in the country or at the international organization to which the delegation is accredited. This not only implies that the HoD is the permanent and principal interlocutor of the EU vis-à-vis the local authorities, the international community and other stakeholders, but it also means that he will serve as the coordinator of different 1 The question as to whether EU delegations’ trade desks should report to DG Trade or to the EEAS was left open by the Lisbon Treaty. In practice, in many cases DG Trade can communicate directly with trade people within the delegations.
  15. 15. 15 EU actors that may be present or interact with his country/organisation of accreditation (cf. art. 6(9) of the 2010 Council Decision). Once again, this places EU delegations at the very centre of a wide network of actors, going well beyond the role previously accorded to the Commission Delegations. In order to fully grasp the institutional stance of EU delegations, it seems now opportune to briefly go through all the functions that they are called to fulfil. The 2010 Council Decision specifies that EU delegations are meant to assume the role and functions previously performed by the rotating Presidency in terms of local coordination and representation of the European Union. However, neither the Lisbon Treaty nor the following decisions provided concrete and practical instructions on the work of delegations. In practice, it was up to EU ambassadors and their staff to define and implement new working processes on the ground (Maurer & Raik, 2014). In concrete terms, activities of EU delegations now include: 1) promoting the Union’s values and activities in the host country/organization; 2) reporting to Headquarters on the local political developments; 3) monitoring the application of EU programmes and international agreements in third countries; 4) managing the cooperation between Member States operating on the spot (in accordance with the dispositions of art. 5(9) of the 2010 Council Decision); 5) providing any necessary support for visits by members of the Commission and other institutions. Additionally, in accordance with art. 5(10) of the 2010 Council Decision, they can also play a supporting role as regards diplomatic and consular protection of EU citizens in third countries. However, this applies only on request of Member States, which are still divided on the application of this provision (Wessel, 2013). As noted in the over mentioned 2013 EEAS Review, notwithstanding the ambitious plans supporting the transition, the establishment of the EEAS was not an easy nor a fast process. To this regard, delegations do not represent an exception: in the post-Lisbon configuration their role was substantially upgraded, with regard to formal role and institutional representativeness (i.e. instead of responding to one EU institution they now represent the Union as a whole). The establishment of the EEAS and the passage of the duty of representation from the rotating Presidency to EU delegations, have considerably changed the institutional equilibrium in which delegations operate. Unlike Commission Delegations, today’s EU delegations play a potentially decisive role
  16. 16. 16 in EU external relations. However, this potential may still need time to completely unfold (cf. Missiroli, 2010). Challenges to a fully successful establishment of EU delegations include: a) financial and administrative adjustments; b) the development of an efficient modus operandi with other EU institutions – particularly the Commission; c) the establishment of satisfying forms of cooperation with Member States’ diplomatic missions; d) the recognition of EU delegations as fully legitimate interlocutors by third actors – specifically third countries and international organizations (Duke, 2014; Drieskens, 2012). There exists, therefore, a gap between the potential of EU delegations to play a key role in EU external action (Balfour, 2013) and the concrete level of their adaptation to this institutional upgrade. It is for this reason that studies empirically reflecting on how this transition is concretely achieved, in terms of practices and interinstitutional interactions are particularly important in understanding today’s role of EU delegations, on the ground. In the next paragraph we will move to the review of the major academic contributions to the debate on EU delegations and their role in contemporary diplomacy. This will allow us to identify the relevance of the present research and to feature its contribution to the current state of the art. 2.4 EU delegations in contemporary literature The past paragraphs provided a thorough reconstruction of the inter-institutional environment in which Commission delegations, first, and EU delegations, now, unfold their activities. In light of the above considerations, the current section is meant to add a review of the most recent and relevant academic contributions on the topic, to date. Literature abounds of studies focusing on the EU international actorness and its place within the diplomatic scene. Early contributions started in the 1970s, when the then European Community started developing a commonality in its external action (some examples are: Cosgrove & Twitchett 1970; Sjostedt 1977; Hill & Wallace 1979). Although relevant, these contributions will not extensively enter the present debate, as they apply to a conception of the European external actorness that is considerably far from the contemporary reality. More recently, a number of studies approached the issue
  17. 17. 17 of the EU being a diplomatic actor, touching upon the features of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (see, for instance, Keukeleire, 2003; Duke 2009), but also approaching the European diplomatic efforts in the global economic field (Damro, 2012; Woolcock, 2012; Conceição-Heldt, 2014). Each of these contributions evaluate the action of Europe on the diplomatic scene from different analytical perspectives, but interestingly hardly grants consideration to the role of EU delegations. Even one of the most recent and comprehensive works on the topic (Koops & Macaj eds. 2015), bringing together analyses of the European performance in the fields of security, economic and financial regulation, environmental politics and more, does not linger on the key role that EU delegations play in implementing the EU diplomatic policies. The emergence of the EEAS as the major diplomatic actor opened a considerably wide debate on the new frontiers of the EU Diplomatic System (EUDS) (Cross, 2011; Duke, 2012; Hocking & Smith, 2015; Spence & Bàtora, 2015) Most of them concentrated on the novelty of a diplomatic system in a non-state-based order, a theme already addressed by Michael Bruter who, in 1999, defined this phenomenon “stateless diplomacy”. Undoubtedly, being “the first supranational diplomatic service of its kind” the EEAS represents “a major step in the practice of diplomacy” (Cross, 2011, p. 447). The simple fact that the new system challenges the most traditional concepts of diplomatic representation, envisaging a new kind of diplomacy, is a theme worth studying on its own. However, what we want to inspect here is not the character of the new EUDS per se, but rather its implications in the work and performance of EU delegations, which is an approach that none of the over mentioned studies explore. In fact, academic contributions on EU delegations post-Lisbon represent a niche within the wider debate on EU external relations. As it will emerge from the next overview, some previous works devoted their attention to EU delegations’ working practices, highlighting interesting points on their current functions and future challenges. An insightful contribution comes from Drieskens (2012) who, just one year after the establishment of the EEAS, explored all the major challenges that the newly born EU delegations face in the post-Lisbon era. By analysing the inter-institutional context where the delegations deploy their functions, the author distinguishes between internal and external challenges for their development. Internally, the major obstacle to full
  18. 18. 18 efficiency for delegations’ functions is represented by the cooperation with Member states’ diplomatic missions: notwithstanding legal provisions (see: 2010 Council decision, art. 5(9), 5(10)) and the possibility of a win-win outcome, according to Drieskens examples of effective cooperation are scarce and mostly technical, rather than political. To this major difficulty, the research links the issue of integration of seconded nationals in the delegation staff, which is not always a simple nor successful process. At the same time, externally, delegations often experience difficulties in receiving legitimation from other international actors. This creates an uncomfortable tension for delegations, which struggle to be recognised as interlocutors by both member states and the outside world. This twofold challenge of legitimation inside and outside the EU is well analysed by Comelli & Matarazzo (2011), whose research focuses on the particular position of EU delegations at international organisations (IOs). The authors identify two major obstacles: a) a reluctance on the side of Member States to recognize the delegations’ competencies and b) discrepancies between the functioning of certain IOs and the EU model of external representation. However, being this a very early study in the post-Lisbon panorama, it also leaves space for wishful thinking on the large potential offered by the new-born EU delegations. Gaps between potential and reality are also central to the work of Helly et al. (2014), whose focus is on factors influencing the delegations’ effectiveness on the ground. They argue, however, that EU delegations are still in their “testing phase”, which is considered to last at least until 2020. Another, empiric study was conducted on the delegations in Washington and Moscow by Heidi Maurer and Kristi Raik (2014). Based on an extensive fieldwork including interviews to several European diplomats, the authors assessed the performance of the two delegations with relation to their functions of coordination and representation. They conclude that delegations have indeed succeeded at adapting to their new role, pragmatically creating good networks for cooperation with local diplomatic posts and adding considerable value to the EU foreign policy making. Among studies specifically devoting their attention to the cooperation between EU delegations and Member States’ diplomatic representations, particularly outstanding is the work by Dermendzhiev (2014) who – unlike most of the previously mentioned studies – applies a social constructivist lens to the case of EU delegations, concluding
  19. 19. 19 that EU delegations might represent the motor for socialization in a “intra-European diplomacy”, comprising both national and EU diplomatic structures. At the same time, the EU should act cautiously and refrain from engaging in too intrusive policies towards Member States’ embassies, who are still sensitive towards their competencies on the ground (Austermann, 2015). From this point of view, an advantageous behaviour from EU delegations would be: acting as “a coordinator, as an accessible information and expertise hub, and as a centralising force when necessary” (ivi, p. 8). Another work that is certainly worth mentioning is Austermann’s book-length study “European Union delegations in EU foreign policy: a diplomatic service of different speeds” (2014). Being probably the most thorough study on the new system of EU delegations, it aims at creating a systematic analytical framework to assess the level of “centralization” of European diplomacy through the “European Diplomacy Centralization Index”, mainly based on a set of quantitative variables. It concludes that the level of centralisation varies based on the geographical area and policy field. Clearly, the above mentioned list of contributions is not complete. Other scholars have devoted their attention to specific case studies with regard to both multilateral and bilateral settings. In the first case, researches mainly focus on the EEAS’ contribution to what the EU 2003 Security Strategy identifies as “effective multilateralism”, claiming that the post-Lisbon institutional setting will still take time before expressing its full potential (Lundin, 2015). However, they mostly agree on the notion that the new, enhanced role of delegations represents an opportunity both for the EU and its Member States to make their voice heard on the global stage (Laatikainen, 2015; Spence, 2015), on the condition that national foreign policy undergo a process of “national adaptation” to the new system (Balfour & Raik, 2015). Researches on EU delegations in bilateral settings seem to be more positive on the state of play of this adaptation process: Maurer (2015) observes how, after Lisbon, enhanced coordination mechanisms between EU delegations and Member States diplomacies have fostered efficiency of the EU work in international posts. Again it must be noted, however, that every single delegation stands out for different features, thus generalizations only partially apply, also considering that coordination may take place in some policy fields but not in others – depending on the interests at stake, particularly in strategically important countries (Austermann, 2015).
  20. 20. 20 To conclude, there is a huge potential for this debate to be deepened and enlarged with updated case studies, to shed new light on the evolution of these processes that, as seen, are still a work in progress. 2.5 Relevance of the study The aim of this literature review was to introduce the reader to the existing academic contributions on EU delegations, outlining the current state of the art and positioning our discourse in the wider debate. To this end, a general overview was provided also on existing works about EU diplomacy, from which a lack of attention towards EU delegations emerges. On the other hand, the existing set of literature approaching the topic of EU delegations does not directly nor specifically relate them to the evolutions of contemporary diplomacy. At the same time, the increasing relevance of EU delegations, also in the academic debate, suggests that they are extremely interesting laboratories embodying all the potential – as well as the deficiencies – of the contemporary European diplomatic system (Maurer & Raik, 2014). Putting together these two elements of interest, this thesis aims at adding a more in-depth reflection on the type of diplomacy performed by EU delegations, devoting a particular attention to the levels of interaction of the delegations with other institutional and non-institutional actors. By drawing on Michael Bruter’s analytical framework on Commission delegations (1999), the research will also provide hints on continuities and changes of the pre- and post-Lisbon system of delegations.
  21. 21. 21 3. Theoretical Framework “A post-modern diplomacy involves increasingly complex patterns of interaction between the state and a shifting range of other actors in both public and private arenas” (Bátora & Hocking, 2008) In order to analyse the evolution of EU delegations as diplomatic actors, it seems necessary to provide a preliminary review of the major conceptual elements that this paper is going to use throughout its analysis. The research question that we aim at answering focuses on two central elements, namely: EU delegations and diplomacy. While we have already framed the former in both their institutional and academic dimensions, the following paragraphs will briefly define the concept of diplomacy, thus highlighting how this relates to the work of EU delegations. The idea of “diplomacy” entails a multitude of meanings and actors. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “The management of international relations by negotiation; the method by which these relations are adjusted and managed by ambassadors and envoys”. Broadly intended, it designates the conduct of foreign relations among international political entities (Curti Gialdino, 2015). Having assumed the wide dimension of the concept, in its traditional conception diplomacy is characterised by a State-centric nature (Lee & Hocking, 2011). However, over the last decades transformations on the international political stage introduced new actors in the foreign policy making, thus posing a challenge to this traditional view: therefore, the current setting of international relations requires a re-evaluation of the concept of diplomacy in a modern, less state-centric key. The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy acknowledges that in the 21st century “the manner by which these core ingredients express themselves can be overshadowed by a myriad of contextual factors both structural and situational” (Cooper et al., eds, 2013, p. 2). Among the definitions which best grasp this new equilibrium in diplomatic relations there is the one offered by Bátora & Hocking, who claim that: “A post-modern diplomacy involves increasingly complex patterns of interaction between the state and a shifting range of other actors in both public and private arenas” (2008, p. 4). This conceptualization of a new form of diplomacy is particularly important in this paper, as it highlights how both institutional and non-institutional actors are involved in contemporary diplomacy. Specifically, this
  22. 22. 22 concept will be fundamental throughout our analysis (cf. the concept of “Consumer- oriented diplomacy” as it will be defined later in the dissertation). In such a versatile international environment, the European Union represents one of the new, non-state actors at play in contemporary diplomacy: in this sense, EU delegations represent the Union’s diplomatic missions. In fact, using Plischke’s words: “[Diplomacy] involves essentially, but is not restricted to, the functions of representation, reporting, communicating, negotiating, and manoeuvring, as well as caring for the interests of nationals abroad” (Plischke, 1972, p. 20). Based on this open definition of diplomatic functions, and comparing the latter to the tasks reserved to EU delegations (cf. § 2.2), it seems legitimate to consider EU delegations as one of the major actors in contemporary diplomacy. Acknowledging this, our ultimate objective is to explore the forms that EU delegations’ diplomacy-making assumes. In order to do so, we will frame our observations within the model offered by Michael Bruter in his work “Diplomacy without a state: the external delegations of the European Commission” (1999). In this landmark study, the author analysed the network of Commission delegations, inspecting how their conformation and practices were embedded in the diplomatic environment. In particular, Bruter developed two central concepts that will be of particular utility in our analysis: the notion of “Diplomacy without a State” and the model of “Consumer-oriented diplomacy”. The former concept acts somehow as a basic assumption in Bruter’s research. He recognises that, although Commission delegations in many cases performed as diplomatic actors, they did not act in representation of a state, as all the other diplomatic missions do. Considered their atypical condition, Commission delegations had to adapt and define a peculiar type of diplomacy in order to be legitimated and effective actors in the global arena. The result of this adaptation process was the development of a “Consumer-oriented diplomacy”, being this “a real change of perspective initiated by the [Commission] delegations” (Bruter 1999, p. 203). This perspective builds on Bruter’s observation that most of the Commission delegations’ activities were directed towards the private sector, as opposed to the traditional administrative role of active legation. The author’s examination was based on a four-dimensional spectrum (Figure 1) comprising all the range of partners that can interact with the delegations, and the type of services associated to them. These are classified as follows:
  23. 23. 23 a) EU institutional actors (receiving managerial functions) b) EU non-institutional demanders (receiving citizen/home consumer services) c) Local institutional demanders (receiving diplomatic functions) d) Local non-institutional demanders (receiving consumer oriented services) The balance between the importance of each type of service in the delegations’ work determined the type of diplomacy performed (Bruter 1999, p. 200). The reason for Bruter to conclude that Commission delegations were “consumer-directed” was that they were mostly active in b) and d) types of services. Bruter’s explanation of this phenomenon was twofold: firstly, traditional diplomacy was leaving consumer-oriented needs largely unsatisfied; secondly, given their non-state based status, Commission delegations needed to find a niche in which to affirm their role. Figure 1. Types of activities performed by Commission delegations (adapted from: Bruter, 1999) Having briefly explored the features of Bruter’s work on Commission delegations, an explanation is now needed of how this relates to our research. As repeatedly recalled, the research question that this paper aims at answering deals with
  24. 24. 24 the role of EU delegations in current diplomacy, in light of the way they perform and the actors they relate to. In this sense, Bruter’s analytical tools can represent a valuable guide also to our investigation. Importantly, our work must not be confused with a replication of the same quest in different conditions: Chapter 2 extensively highlighted how the Treaty of Lisbon represented a divide between two eras of the Union’s external relations. If Bruter’s analysis applied to Commission delegations, a number of reasons suggest that this might not be the case for EU delegations, which are substantially different institutional actors compared to Commission delegations – although some elements of continuity are still at play. On this line, Chapter 2 also noted how the transition from Commission delegations to EU delegations still represents a work in progress, whose realization is not complete yet. Reflecting on the nature of the Lisbon transition (cf. § 2.2) which provided an upgrade of the delegation’s political functions and a widening of their institutional network, it seems legitimate to foresee that the type of diplomacy currently performed by EU delegations is sensibly more political and institution-oriented compared to the “Consumer-oriented” one as defined by Bruter. However, the incomplete character of the transition, along with its complexity, makes our question about the role of EU delegations in today’s diplomacy still relevant. In the next chapter, we will draw the methodological lines for our empirical analysis, highlighting how the outlined conceptual tools will be adapted to the empirical reality that we are going to test.
  25. 25. 25 4. Methodology The past sections have helped us problematizing the role of EU delegations in their wider institutional panorama. Alongside the central research question addressed by this paper (i.e. what is the potential for EU delegations to play a distinctive role in contemporary diplomacy, in light of the way they perform and the actors they relate to?) other secondary queries have emerged, regarding the state of play of the post-Lisbon institutional transition, as well as the current delegations’ relationship vis-à-vis a variety of stakeholders. The following paragraphs will elaborate an operationalisation of these elements, that will serve as a guide in our analysis. A justification of the selected case study and a consideration of this research’s possible limitations follow. 4.1 Operationalisation and data collection The diplomatic dimension of EU delegations will be assessed along the analytical lines provided by Bruter (1999) in analysing Commission delegations. As seen, central theoretical tools will be the concepts of “Diplomacy without a State” and “Consumer-oriented diplomacy”. These two will be tested at the case of EU delegations separately: to this end, the first part of the analysis will investigate the factors that still make EU delegations’ diplomacy an atypical one towards state-based systems; the second part will analyse how EU delegations develop their relationships with institutional and non-institutional stakeholders, in practice. This will provide an answer on the typology of diplomatic activities majorly performed by EU delegations. The reason why EU delegations still constitute an atypical case in the diplomatic arena is their non-state-centric nature. After the Lisbon provisions were enforced, the gap existing between the delegations and national embassies was partly filled, although a number of differences are still at play (Comelli & Matarazzo, 2011). But to what extent does Bruter’s definition of “Diplomacy without a State” apply to the current system of EU delegations? Bruter (1999) identified the peculiar conditions of Commission delegations along four dimensions: a) the lack of any clearly defined foreign policy; b) limited material resources; c) the absence of a head of state and d) the lack of a professional diplomatic corp. This paper will take into consideration these
  26. 26. 26 same criteria in order to assess to what extent they apply to the case of EU diplomacy after Lisbon. The evaluation will be conducted through a critical analysis of primary sources such as EU legislation, Council decisions, as well as official reports on the working practices of EU institutions. Secondary sources will also be taken into account, including academic articles and policy briefs. Once assessed to what extent EU delegations fit Bruter’s conception of non-state diplomacy, the analysis will move to testing the case of “Consumer-oriented diplomacy” on the EU delegation to Canada’s role in the negotiation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. This part of the research will make use of a different method, as it will be mainly based on structured and semi-structured interviews to 5 EU functionaries involved at various levels in the CETA process. The choice to concentrate on the in-depth analysis of a single case study is due to the necessity of examining the delegations’ practices based on their work on the ground: as the EU delegation in Ottawa could not provide public reports on its activities, interviews were the most reliable basis on which to conduct the study. As shown in Table 1, to ensure an unbiased representation of professional opinions, interviewees were selected at different hierarchical levels, and from different professional qualifications. Only one official from DG Trade agreed to being interviewed, while all the 4 other officials work (or have worked) at the EU delegation to Canada over the considered timeframe. No. Institution Function/Policy area 1 European Commission – DG Trade Deputy Head of Unit and negotiator 2 EU delegation to Canada Head of Economic Section 3 EU delegation to Canada Former Head of Economic Section 4 EU delegation to Canada Former advisor at the Economic and Commercial section 5 EU delegation to Canada Press Officer Table 1 List of conducted interviews
  27. 27. 27 4.2 Case study selection The choice to concentrate the second part of the analysis on a single case study is due to the necessity of empirically testing the assumptions inferred from a general observation of the EU delegations’ system as a whole. Cases are commonly intended to be an instance of a more general class of events (Levy, 2002): thus, the final aim of our case study approach is to operate a generalisation of the findings, enabling us to enrich the research with an in-depth observation from a specific angle. Therefore, to explain what kind of diplomacy EU delegations currently perform, this work isolates the EU delegation to Canada over the process of the CETA negotiations as a significant case. The relevance of the case is derived from the following factors. First of all – and most importantly – the selected case is explicative of the delegations’ work and attitudes in a field, Trade, that falls under the exclusive competence of the EU (art. 207 TFEU) – meaning that the European Commission rather than Member States was responsible for the negotiation process. This entails that a major commitment came from the EU side in managing the whole process leading to the agreement: necessarily, as it will emerge later in the analysis, the EU delegation was in the centre of a dense interaction of actors (either institutional or non-institutional). An objection may arise due to the fact that Trade represents an exception compared, for instance, to Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), where the EEAS, and not the Commission, is the leading institution. However, the possibility of assessing the performance on a Trade policy case enables us to better evaluate elements of continuity and/or discontinuity with the pre-Lisbon arrangement, as the previous Commission Delegations were only involved in policy fields falling under the Commission’s control. Moreover, as the analysis will further highlight, negotiations of the CETA were launched in May 2009, more than a year before the establishment of the EEAS (and therefore of EU delegations). Although our analysis will focus on the delegation’s activities after the transition, elements of this development emerge in the comments of some of the interviewees. The second reason why the choice of the case of the CETA is considered a relevant one, is its high political and societal importance both in Europe and in Canada. In fact, the relationship between the two actors “though often in the shadow of the EU-
  28. 28. 28 US affiliation, is a deep and important one” (DeBardeleben & Leblon, 2011, p. 2): this entails a wide engagement of stakeholders at all levels on both sides of the Atlantic, which makes the CETA a case of societal importance. Politically, both Brussels and Ottawa raised concerns and invested a considerable amount of energies for the agreement’s cause (Johnson, 2014). Finally, from a technical point of view, the agreement – and the way in which it was reached – is highly explanatory of the contemporary trends in economic diplomacy (Duchesne & Morin, 2013; Mathis, 2012). All the considered factors contribute to increasing the relevance of the case, as it is legitimate to expect that the EU delegation to Ottawa was the target of a large number of pressures, coming either from Europe or from Canada, and from institutional as well as from non-institutional actors. This allows to operate a thorough analysis, covering all the spectrum of possible stakeholders enunciated in Figure 1. 4.3 Research limitations The last due step to fulfil before fully entering the empirical part of this work is the enunciation of limitations regarding: a) the way researches were conducted and b) how this paper contributes to the ongoing debates. The first clarification concerns interviews conducted to EU functionaries: in an ideal scenario, interviews would have involved more actors from other EU institutions, but only one functionary from the European Commission agreed at contributing to the research. This might limit the relevance of the case which, as repeatedly recalled, is not completely liable to generalisation. Future studies are expected to test the same variables on different policy cases. Adding to this, the thesis is not intended to provide a thorough assessment of the EU delegation to Ottawa’s impact on the agreement reached between the EU and Canada. As specified, the case is only meant to offer empirical evidences, to be led back to the original question on the kind of diplomacy performed by EU delegations. Due to this, only a minor part of the reference literature specifically deals with EU economic diplomacy as such. Space is left for further and more specific works on the EU delegation to Canada and its impact on the CETA.
  29. 29. 29 5. Analysis The analytical part of this paper is articulated as follows. Firstly, it inspects to what extent today’s EU delegations respond to Bruter’s model of “Diplomacy without a State”. Subsequently, having profiled EU diplomacy along these lines, it will move to the evaluation of the case study, in order to test the case of “Consumer-oriented diplomacy” on today’s EU delegations. 5.1 EU delegations: diplomacy without a State? The next paragraphs aim at inspecting how far the existing conditions for the work of EU delegations resemble the concept of “Diplomacy without a State” as descripted above. They will do so by analysing EU delegations along each of the following four defining dimensions (Table 2): a) presence or absence of a clearly defined foreign policy; b) material resources; c) presence or absence of a Head of state and d) presence or absence of a professional diplomatic corps (Bruter, 1999). COMMISSION DELEGATIONS (Bruter, 1999) EU DELEGATIONS Defined foreign policy ABSENT ? Material resources LIMITED ? Head of state ABSENT ? Professional diplomats ABSENT ? Table 2. The four dimensions of “Diplomacy without a State”
  30. 30. 30 5.1.1 Defined foreign policy “Diplomacy consists of communication between officials designed to promote foreign policy” (Berridge, 2002, p. 1): the reason why we provide here a new definition of diplomacy is because Berridge’s perspective eminently highlights the importance for diplomacy to work towards the promotion of a defined foreign policy. In the case of the EU, however, a question spontaneously rises: whose foreign policy does EU diplomacy promote? In 1999, Bruter claimed that one of the causes of the “unusual nature of delegations” is that – in their areas of expertise – they spoke for the EU and all its components, although they had no mandate to represent all of them (ivi, p. 186). This resulted in a confusing role for Commission delegations, whose credibility was heavily hindered. To this respect, however, the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon represent a valid solution, by clarifying the structure of EU Common Foreign and Security Policy and therefore the mandate for EU delegations. Practically, the Union’s CFSP pre-dated the Lisbon Treaty by more than 20 years. In fact, it was delineated in 1987 with the European Single Act, to be then formalized by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. However, it was only with the Treaty of Lisbon that the EU gained legal personality, being enabled to play a greater role in foreign policy (European Parliament, 2008). Besides this, the Lisbon Treaty entails important reforms of the EU foreign policy making, and it sets-out a list of foreign policy objectives, including: safeguard to its values, security, independence and integrity; support to democracy and the rule of law; peace protection and conflict prevention in accordance with the UN Charter; fostering of sustainable development in third countries; integration of global economy; assisting of populations and countries confronting disasters; promotion of an international system based on stronger multilateral cooperation (Smith, 2014, p. 7). The simple fact that the EU is now provided with a clear-cut set of foreign policy objectives fosters its internal coordination and political capacity. Additionally, an important update of the EU’s objectives in global politics is the newly released EU Global Strategy, which European leaders welcomed as the new milestone for the European common external action. The new strategy sets the
  31. 31. 31 fundamental principles and priorities which shall guide all EU actors in implementing their foreign policy objectives. One of the strategy’s passages claims: “Living up consistently to our values internally will determine our external credibility and influence” (EEAS, 2016, p. 15). This simple sentence alone embodies the Union’s determination to act cohesively and effectively on the global arena, as a unitary actor. To this regard, it is well known that the major foreign policy innovation brought in by Lisbon was the creation of the EEAS, a “functionally autonomous body” (art. 1(2) of the 2010 Council Decision) that supports the High Representative, as well as the President of the European Council and the Commission in coordinating all aspects of the Union’s external action (art. 2 of the 2010 Council Decision). The creation of the new System effectively resulted in a boosted coordination among the diverse institutional actors involved in the European external action. Quoting former High Representative Catherine Ashton: “With the support of Member States in the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament, the EEAS has developed into a modern and operational foreign policy service, equipped to promote EU interests and values in our relations with the rest of the world” (Ashton, 2013). Ashton’s words are important as they exemplify the complexity of the EU common foreign policy system which, although multi-layered, retains the capability of being cohesive. The same concept is made explicit by the 2011 Vademecum on the External Action of the European Union, which enunciates the principle of sincere cooperation and the principle of conferral as the regulating pillars of collaboration between the EU and Member States on foreign policy issues (European Commission, 2011). In the light of these factors, we can now go back to our original query: whose foreign policy does the EU diplomacy promote? The above analysis helped enlightening how, after the Lisbon Treaty, the European foreign policy has been boosted in the direction of more unity and political capacity. This change is prominently reflected in the upgraded role of EU delegations. In accordance with art. 221 TFEU, they have now taken over the representational tasks of the Union both in CFSP and non-CFSP matters (European Commission, 2011). They are now entitled with functions that were formerly exercised by the rotating Presidency of the Council
  32. 32. 32 – this adding substantial clarity to their role, if compared to the blurred one described by Bruter with regard to previous Commission delegations (1999). In conclusion, EU delegations still make the case of being diplomatic actors without a state to represent. However, they now have the clear mandate to represent a unitary entity from which a clearly defined foreign policy is derived. 5.1.2 Material resources In order to function well, diplomacy needs material resources available. In 1999, Michael Bruter noted how Commission delegations had to deal with limited resources, pointing out that this originated their need to implement “creative” forms of diplomacy (Bruter, 1999, p. 190). Thus, the present study cannot neglect this dimension in the evaluation of the EU delegations’ activities. In this section we will look at the EU delegations’ material resources mostly in terms of employed personnel, as the overall weight of a diplomatic system is often strictly related to the dimension of its human resources, as Bruter also highlights (1999). Since its beginning, the establishment of the EEAS was guided by the principle of cost-efficiency, aiming towards budget neutrality and rationalisation of resources (2010 Council Decision, Preamble). For delegations, the challenge was even bigger, as they had to transform their role and tasks “with no extra resources” (Ashton 2013). However, looking at EEAS’ budget management in 2014, it becomes clear that delegations were the major target of funding within the EEAS. The budget of €518.6 million was split between headquarters (€212.9 million) and delegations (€305.7) as shown in Figure 2. In addition to the EEAS budget, a contribution of €271 million was received from the Commission to cover the administrative costs of Commission staff working in delegations (EEAS, 2015). This means that more than €500 million were allocated to EU delegations in 2014.
  33. 33. 33 Figure 2 Allocation of the EEAS budget between headquarters and delegations (Adapted from: EEAS, 2015) With regard to the staff employed at EU delegations, a significant evolution took place over the first 5 years after the establishment of the EEAS. From 2011 to 1 January 2016, the total number of people employed within the EEAS grew by 11%; at the same time, however, there was a gradual decrease in the number of officials, which were removed in order to balance the arrival of member states diplomats (EEAS, 2016a). Overall, at the end of 2015, 39% of the EEAS personnel worked in Brussels’ headquarters, and 61% in EU delegations. As shown in Figure 3, besides EEAS staff members (1968 people), personnel at delegations was also composed of Commission staff (3533 people). In total, 5501 people were employed at EU delegations on 31 December 2015. This number is comparable to that of a large or medium-sized national diplomatic service: providing a comparative proportion, the number of people employed at Italian diplomatic posts in the same period was 5125 (Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, 2016). With regard to this comparison, a clarification is needed: clearly, the ratio between people employed at diplomatic missions and the overall population is much higher in the case of the Italian national system. However, it is important to underline that the functions of EU delegations are often complementary to those of national embassies. In this light, the number of people employed at EU delegations, is arguably adequate to fulfil its tasks as well as national diplomacies do.
  34. 34. 34 Figure 3. Staff categories include officials, temporary agents, contract agents and local agents (Adapted from: EEAS 2016) Regarding future developments, the EEAS tends to encourage cooperation between EU delegations and national diplomacies, in the direction of burden sharing and resource allocation (EEAS, 2013). If exploited to their full potential these solutions would certainly represent a considerable advantage for national budgets, but at the same time they would require an adjustment in EEAS resources which, at the moment, is unlikely to take place (Duke, 2014). From this overview, it is reasonably arguable that concerns about the availability of material resources for EU delegations are not a valid argument to diminish their diplomatic weight. The establishment of the EEAS has brought to a gradual but sensible growth in the dimension of delegations’ staff. Moreover, this staff is internally diverse and comprises a wide array of professional figures at different levels. What cannot be forgotten, however, is that the EU diplomatic system is designed to be a complement to national services: in this light, it should not be expected to increase its capacity to the point of overstepping member states’ diplomatic structures. Rather, any form of cooperation between national and EU level shall correspond to a re-consideration in terms of resource allocation on both sides.
  35. 35. 35 5.1.3 Head of state According to Bruter (1999), another major source of ambiguity in the former Commission delegations’ position relied on the disparity between the official status of their Head of delegation (HoD), and the rank of the person they were called to represent (i.e. the President of the Commission). In fact, while the former were ranked as Ambassadors, the latter did not have the same institutional legitimacy of a Head of state (Bruter, 1999, p. 190). According to the author, this created difficulties also in the delegations’ legitimacy. Notwithstanding the delegations’ upgrade occurred with the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union still lacks a Head of state. Rather, today’s EU delegations have the mandate to represent both the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission – with regard respectively to CFSP and non-CFSP related issues. Therefore, does this disparity of status still represent a problem in the EU delegations’ diplomatic legitimacy? Before answering this question, it is useful to visualize the distribution of tasks in the EU external representation. As shown in Table 3, EU delegations serve as the representatives of the whole range of institutions involved in the European Union external action. Most importantly, they are now the only actors entitled to represent the EU in third countries and at international organisations. According to the Lisbon Treaty, in fact, there is no longer a role for the Member State holding the Presidency of the Council in external action of the EU. CFSP Non-CFSP Heads of State or Government level President of the European Council President of the European Commission Ministerial level High Representative Commissioners (including the High Representative acting as Vice President) Administrative level European External Action Service (EEAS) Commission services EEAS HQ services
  36. 36. 36 In third countries/at international organisations EU delegations EU delegations Table 3. Institutional actors for the external representation of the EU (adapted from: European Commission 2011) To this regard, the post-Lisbon transition was of extreme importance: although EU delegations still lack a Head of state to represent, the simple fact that they are now entitled to speak for the Union as a whole eliminates the critical ambiguity pointed out by Bruter (cf. supra). The HoD’s mandate includes a duty to ensure the unity, consistency effectiveness of the EU’ external action in the country where it is accredited. This entails that he/she will establish close coordination with and provide political guidance to all the EU actors in his country of accreditation (EEAS, 2014). This increased unity of the entities they represent not only constitutes a major step towards the delegations’ diplomatic legitimacy: it also contributes to the alignment of EU delegations’ status to that of national diplomatic missions. In other words, as national embassies act as the representatives of their states’ entire institutional apparatus, EU delegations are entitled to represent the Union as a whole – unlikely former Commission delegations. Notwithstanding this upgrade in the delegations’ status and diplomatic legitimacy, the question remains whether the institutional figures they represent equal the official status of a Head of state. As shown in Table 3, the President of the EU Council and the President of the European Commission are the highest ranking position represented by the delegations. To this end, it seems useful to briefly reflect on the way the European Union is represented at international institutions. While the representation of the European Union in international fora still constitutes “a patchwork pattern” (Gstöhl, 2009, p. 386), a relevant hint comes from the G7/8 and G20 summits. The two international fora gather the Heads of state and government of some of the global major economies. The European Union is represented in the summits, as they mostly deal with areas where “the Community’s competence is long standing and where EU strategic interest are at stake” (European Commission, 2016). Most interestingly, in
  37. 37. 37 both the G7/8 and the G20 the Union is represented by the European Council President and the European Commission President. This is in line with the provision that “the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission represent the Union at summits with third countries at the level of Heads of State and Government” (European Commission, 2011). It seems therefore legitimate to believe that the international status of these two figures is fully aligned with that of the Heads of state and government in national systems. To conclude, while the question of legitimacy raised by Bruter (1999) extensively applied to the case of former Commission delegations, its application is rather limited with regard to EU delegations after Lisbon. First of all, the solely fact that they now represent the Union as a whole, positions them closer to the status of national embassies. Secondly – and most importantly – the provided examples make it legitimate to claim that the ranking position of the Commission and Council Presidents are aligned with those of Heads of state and government – at least based on well- established international habits. 5.1.4 Professional diplomats The last objection raised by Bruter (1999) to the diplomatic status of Commission delegations was that – unlike traditional national embassies – they had no professional diplomats among their personnel (p. 191). Of course, the establishment of the EEAS in 2010 was a fundamental step in overcoming this flaw, as the service attempts to provide the EU with its first supranational diplomatic service (Cross, 2011). Although this is still a work in progress, it is arguably at the heart of the EU’s upgrade as a diplomatic actor. However, it cannot be claimed that the Lisbon Treaty unequivocally resolved the question of the EU system of diplomacy (Smith, 2015). Besides officials from the General Secretariat of the Council and the Commission, the EEAS’ personnel comprises Member States diplomats, appointed as temporary agents (art. 27(3) TFUE). At the end of 2015, seconded diplomats from member states covered the 32.9% of the EEAS AD staff (EEAS, 2016a). Clearly, this creates a
  38. 38. 38 cultural and professional heterogeneity, which is considered to be among the main challenges to the efficiency of the new diplomatic service (Cross, 2011; Marteaux, 2011; Juncos & Pomorska, 2014). In other words, although the EEAS has successfully provided the Union with a team of professional diplomats working both in Brussels headquarters and at delegations, the new Service raises doubts when it comes to guaranteeing cohesion and homogeneity within its diplomatic team. Figure 4. Evolution of Member States Diplomats as a proportion of EEAS AD staff: 2011–2015 (Source: EEAS, 2016) Recruitment and training mechanisms for diplomats widely vary among the EU Member States. In some systems the national-level practice for diplomats focuses on formal training (i.e. young diplomats must attend training programmes at national academies), while in others on-the-job-training prevails (Cross, 2011). In many cases, moreover, national diplomats enter the EEAS after years of work at their national diplomatic services: implications of this include that they may not be used to multilateral settings, or that they do not have previous experience on EU issues. This is, at the same time, ambitious and challenging. Quoting Edith Drieskens, “national secondments seem to create a win-win situation in terms of exchanging knowledge”
  39. 39. 39 (2012, p. 60). In this sense, cooperation mechanisms need to be found in order for both the EU and national systems to benefit from these contacts. To this regard, the EEAS 2015 Human Resources Report highlights that considerable efforts took place, aiming at improving the cooperation between EEAS and Member States. Contacts were formalised with the creation of the EEAS – Member States Human Resources Director Network, a forum of exchange of information and best practices concerning management of Human Resources and, in particular, national diplomats employed by the EEAS as temporary agents. Such a formalised connection is deemed of extreme importance in order to further develop “a genuine European diplomatic culture”, in which professionals with diverse skills and experience can circulate between the diplomatic services of the Member States and the EEAS (EEAS, 2016a). Other relevant initiatives with regard to training and socialization of Member State diplomats include the European Diplomatic Programme. The project was initiated in 2000-2001 on a proposal of the Council working group on administration and protocol, which already recognised the need to promote a common European diplomacy. In practice, it is a joint programme by Member States’ Foreign Ministries, the EEAS, the Commission and the Council Secretariat consisting of a series of thematic courses addressed at young diplomats from Member States and EU officials. The three general aims of the programme are: helping European diplomats to create networks that foster a European identity in foreign policy; raising awareness among national diplomats with regard to the EU dimension of diplomacy; providing a fully European teaching environment (EEAS, 2016b). The programme’s overall objective is therefore “Europeanisation” of the national diplomatic corps (Gstöhl, 2012, p.13). Besides this specifically diplomatic form of training, the EEAS is also active in promoting training schemes to its non-diplomatic staff (Gstöhl, 2012), as a sign that the seek for a harmonised esprit de corps within the European diplomatic service is not a neglected task. Moreover, in 2015 the EEAS adopted a complete legal framework regulating the engagement of temporary staff in headquarters and delegations, which also contains specific provisions on the situation of Member State
  40. 40. 40 diplomats, improving clarity and predictability also in the relationship with national diplomatic services2 . In conclusion, it seems reasonable to claim that, once again, the post-Lisbon system equipped the Union with a considerable potential to be deployed. Unlike former Commission delegations, current EU delegations can benefit from the service of national diplomats, assuring the highest possible levels of professionality. Additionally, proficient training practices potentially assure that disparities in diplomatic culture and working habits are reasonably overcome. 5.1.5 A new level of state-less diplomacy COMMISSION DELEGATIONS (Bruter, 1999) EU DELEGATIONS Defined foreign policy ABSENT EXISTING Material resources LIMITED ADEQUATE Head of state ABSENT EQUIVALENT Professional diplomats ABSENT EXISTING Table 4. Diplomacy without a State: a comparison between Commission delegations and EU delegations The analysis in the last sections has thoroughly inquired to what extent the current institutional and material conditions for EU delegations respond to Bruter’s conception of “Diplomacy without a State”. As shown in Table 4, our findings show that conditions have sensibly changed with the passage to the post-Lisbon arrangement. Although operating in a multi-level and multi-actor environment (Koops & Macaj, 2015), today’s EU delegations arguably reached a level of complexity and completeness resembling that of national diplomatic missions. First of all, from our observations emerges that EU delegations are now the representative of a unitary – although not national – entity, with a clearly defined 2 Decision of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy adopting general provisions implementing Article 12(5) of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Union on the engagement and use of temporary agents ADMIN(2015)20
  41. 41. 41 foreign policy to promote. Secondly, in terms of available resources, mainly observed on the basis of the personnel, their network is comparable to that of a large or medium-sized national diplomatic service: EU delegations are therefore expected to live up to the EU expectations in terms of tasks and institutional weight. Thirdly, the post-Lisbon transition sensibly upgraded their legitimation regarding the status of the institutions they represent, as the ranking position of the European Council’s and Commission’s Presidents are equivalent to those of Heads of state and governments. Lastly, thanks to the secondment of national diplomats, the EU delegations network can now rely on the service of a professional diplomatic corp. With the enhancement of proficient training and socialisation practices, the EEAS is likely to strengthen the esprit de corps within its diplomatic personnel, thus boosting organisational commitment and identification (cf. Juncos & Pomorska, 2013). Answering the question whether EU delegations respond to the model that Bruter (1999) profiles as “Diplomacy without a State”, our findings highlight that, although the EU diplomatic system inevitably lacks a national dimension, it is undergoing an upgrade in terms of functions and institutional weight. Instead of representing an atypical model vis-à-vis the traditional state-based system, EU diplomacy embodies all the characteristic of contemporary diplomacy, entailing “an increasingly complex patterns of interaction between the state and a shifting range of other actors” (Bàtora & Hocking, 2008, p. 4). From this point of view, the emerging European diplomatic system is the representative of a new conception of non-state- based, multilevel diplomacy. In contemporary diplomacy, the lack of a state to represent does not entail that a system is incomplete.
  42. 42. 42 5.2 Case study: the EU delegation to Canada and the CETA. Consumer-oriented diplomacy? Having established the characters of EU diplomacy with regard to its non-state basis, we will now assume that, unlikely former Commission delegations, EU delegations are not constrained by any consistent limitation of their diplomatic capacities. Based on our findings (see § 5.1.5), we shall expect that today’s EU delegations are capable of fulfilling all the tasks reserved to traditional diplomatic actors. However, this hypothesis needs to be tested on a concrete scenario. Through the analysis of a selected case study, in the next paragraphs we are going to assess how the EU delegations’ performance is positioned within the four-dimensional spectrum described by Figure 1 (§ 3). This will contribute at answering our research question, with regard to what kind of services EU delegations mostly provide, and to whom. Based on the results of a series of interviews conducted to 6 EU officials involved at various levels in the process leading to the conclusion of the CETA between the EU and Canada, we are now going to comment the performance of the EU delegation to Ottawa within this process, in light of the services it provided and the actors it related to. We will operationalise this evaluation by framing the respondents’ answers within the 4 dimensions described by Bruter (1999) and thoroughly enunciated in § 3. This will enable us to state whether the EU delegation’s performance was more oriented towards: a) managerial functions; b) citizen/home consumer services; c) diplomatic functions or d) consumer-oriented services. In order to preserve the interviewees anonymity, in-text references will not mention the officials’ function, which were listed in Table 1 (§ 4.1). The reasons why we deem the selected case study to be relevant in our research have been highlighted in § 4.2. The CETA has a high political and economic importance both in Europe and in Canada. Considering the wide engagement of stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic (Johnson, 2014) the EU delegation to Ottawa was certainly allowed to act within a vast net of institutional and non-
  43. 43. 43 institutional actors, from both Europe and Canada. Moreover, being the CETA’s dynamics highly explanatory of contemporary trends in economic diplomacy (Duchesne & Morin, 2013; Mathis, 2012), the case is arguably suitable for a measure of generalisation, which makes it explicative of the role of EU delegations in contemporary diplomacy, more generally. CETA negotiations were launched at the EU-Canada Summit held in Prague in May 2009, and they lasted for the next 6 years. A political agreement between the parties was found in summer 2013, and in August 2014 the negotiations were officially closed. As to June 2016, after the legal review of the text, the agreement only needs the completion of the ratification process in order to become binding under international law (European Commission, 2016a). As it emerged from the interviews, the EU delegation to Ottawa played a key role at several levels over all the negotiations period, and beyond. In fact, after the conclusion of the negotiation phase, activities keep being conducted, especially with regard to advocacy and promotion of the agreement (interview with DG Trade negotiator, June 2016). From the conducted interviews, the role of the delegation emerged as fundamental in three principal fields: I. Activities of local intelligence and representation II. Relations with local representatives of Member States III. Advocacy and public diplomacy Regarding the first point, a recurrent argument among interviewees is that the delegation embodies “the eyes and the ears of the negotiators”, whose presence on the field is limited to the negotiation rounds. In this sense, the delegation has the fundamental task of informing the negotiators about economic and political developments in the host country. It does so by communicating – on a daily basis – with local political authorities (Ministry of Trade, Parliamentary Committees etc.), as well as with local stakeholders (industries, media, NGOs and civil society, cultural and academic institutions) whose positions inevitably influences the country’s negotiating position (interview with senior EU official at the EU delegation to Canada, June 2016). These activities result in a systematic reporting from the delegation to the
  44. 44. 44 Brussels headquarters: this represents a fundamental task, as it serves as an orientation for negotiators who, otherwise, would be hardly aware about the complexities of the local socio-economic context (interview with DG Trade negotiator, June 2016). Adding to this, another important function of the delegation is keeping relations and holding discussions with the Canadian Government also at provincial level. One of the particularities of the CETA is that, for the first time, Canadian provinces were actively involved in the negotiations: thus, the delegation had to manage contacts with the Provinces’ administrative and political authorities. This requested a remarkable diplomatic effort, not only in Ottawa but also in other major cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary (interview with senior EU Trade official at the EU delegation to Canada, June 2016). To this regard, it is worth noting that the task of the EU delegation of representing the Union and its policies abroad (art. 221(1) TFEU) emerges as particularly relevant. The second aspect, namely the relation with local representatives of Member States, entails a series of activities addressed at the coordination and communication with Member States’ diplomatic missions. As repeatedly recalled, coordination with Member States is one of the main tasks of EU delegations (art. 5(9) of the 2010 Council Decision). This is even more relevant in the context of a trade agreement negotiation. Although the Commission has the responsibility to negotiate on behalf of Member States, each of them have particular interests at stake. Thus, the delegation assumes a relevant role in circulating coherent information on the negotiations’ state of play and – most importantly – in defining common lines in the communication with the host country. It is of fundamental importance that all the European diplomatic missions convey the same messages and positions to local authorities. In this light, the delegation to Ottawa in close coordination with DG Trade regularly drafted specific “Hymn Sheets” for each Member State, defining national perspectives on the negotiations (interview with EU Trade official at the EU delegation to Canada, June 2016). Importantly, a senior EU official points out how the relation with Member States missions has been affected by the post-Lisbon transition. As the delegation assumed the presidency in all the coordination meetings, now Member States feel somewhat disempowered. While before Lisbon coordination meetings had the format of round tables where all Member States shared synergies and proposals, now they are
  45. 45. 45 perceived as simple debriefing sessions from the delegation to Member States missions. Therefore, while Lisbon represented a major step in the delegation’s empowerment, it may have hindered the constructive participation of EU state missions to the implementation of EU policies abroad. The third focal point of the delegation to Ottawa’s activity with regard to the CETA is related to advocacy activities at all levels. These include the promotion of the agreement both at institutional and public level. From a Canadian perspective, CETA is an extremely relevant issue, being the EU the country’s second commercial partner, after the United States (European Commission, 2016b). Therefore, the agreement raised much interest, as well as a number of concerns, both at political and at civilian level (interview with DG Trade negotiator, June 2016). To this end, the EU delegation engages in meetings with local political actors (e.g. parliamentary hearings) and promotes public diplomacy initiatives. The latter have the function of presenting the agreement to the general public, boosting the process’ transparency and highlighting the benefits coming with the agreement. Being the representative of the Union to Canada, the delegation receives several invitations to debates, seminars and interviews with the media. A fundamental aspect to be outlined here is that any activity of promotion needs to be coordinated with Canadian authorities who normally directly participate to the events, too. It is of primary importance that the public perceives that the EU and national authorities fully share the same vision on the agreement. If the EU delegation conducted advocacy activities without the Canadian participation, it would convey a dangerous unilateral perspective on the agreement, which would undermine the promotion’s efficacy and credibility (interview with EU Communication official at the EU delegation to Canada, June 2016). In this sense, the delegation’s role towards the civil society is mediated by Canadian authorities, which are perceived as the most legitimate interlocutors by the general public. This overview was meant to guide the investigation through a concrete working scenario, and to assess which types of actors and services are prominent in EU delegations’ activities. The observation highlights that, in the considered case, the EU delegation was mostly focused on activities of representation, local intelligence, local coordination with Member States, advocacy and public diplomacy. However, regarding the latter, the interviewees outlined how public diplomacy activities always
  46. 46. 46 need to be coordinated and somewhat mediated by local authorities, which limits the delegation’s autonomy in this field. The interviews did not highlight any case of service provided to EU non-institutional actors by the delegation. We can now bring the above exposed findings back to the analytical framework exposed in Figure 1 (§ 3). As suggested by Bruter, the balance between the importance of each type of service in the delegations’ work determines the type of diplomacy performed (1999, p. 200). Figure 5 highlights that, in the considered case study, managerial and diplomatic functions prevailed over other, more consumer-directed, types of services. As seen, local consumer-related activities (i.e. public diplomacy and divulgation) were not completely absent; however, they were always mediated by the interference of local authorities. Figure 5. Balance in the activities of EU delegation to Canada with regard to CETA (based on interviews to EU officials, June 2016) In sum, the selected case study arguably suggests that EU delegations’ performance is prominently focused on: a) developing diplomatic relations strictu sensu with local authorities, thus representing the Union as provided by the Treaty of Lisbon; b) serving the EU from an inter-institutional point of view, facilitating communications from third countries to Brussels, and fostering cooperation with
  47. 47. 47 Member States representatives abroad and c) establishing relations with local non- institutional actors, but always in close cooperation with the hosting country’s institutional authorities. To this regard, this paper’s conclusions will necessarily highlight an institutional orientation in the EU delegations’ diplomatic performance, as opposed to the “consumer-oriented diplomacy” designed by Bruter in describing pre- Lisbon Commission delegations (1999).
  48. 48. 48 6. Discussion of the findings Having completed the analysis in all its components, it is now necessary to discuss the results in the light of this research’s initial purpose. This paper was aimed at understanding which potential do EU delegations have to play a distinctive role in contemporary diplomacy, in light of the way they perform and the actors they relate to. The analytical section was twofold, and it followed a consequential principle. Based on a model established by Michael Bruter (1999) we firstly defined in which elements today’s EU delegations resemble to and/or differ from national diplomatic actors. This evaluation was based on the assumption that EU delegations represent a kind of state-less diplomacy, necessarily divergent from traditional state-centred conceptions of diplomacy (Lee & Hocking, 2011). The primary aim of the research was, therefore, to assess whether EU delegations present defining characters structurally preventing them from performing diplomatic tasks similar to those implemented by nation states’ missions. Section §5.1.5 concludes that EU delegations not only retain adequate features to perform all the major tasks of national diplomatic posts: as they operate in a multi-level and multi-actor environment (Koops & Macaj, 2015), EU delegations are the best representatives of the direction contemporary diplomacy is taking (Bàtora & Hocking, 2008). They not only are arguably legitimate diplomatic actors on the global scene, but also have the potential to embody the new standards of multi-level and multi-actor diplomacy. It was on this basis that the research moved to the inspection of the case study. As said, the analysis followed a consequential principle as, only after having established that EU delegations have indeed a full potential to deploy in any diplomatic realm, could we proceed to assessing what type of diplomacy delegations pursue in practice. Based on Bruter’s assumption that the type of diplomacy performed widely depends on which services delegations provide and to whom (1999, p. 200), the case study highlighted that institution-oriented services prevail over consumer-oriented ones. This is not a trivial assumption, especially in the light of the post-Lisbon transition. We have thoroughly examined how, behind Lisbon’s reforming efforts, there was a declared
  49. 49. 49 intention of fostering the EU diplomatic tools in the direction of more coherency and more effectiveness (Kluth & Pilegaard, 2012). The fact that, today, EU delegations express a definite disposition towards enhancing the EU international actorness and boosting coherency in the EU external action, demonstrates that EU delegations can live up to their tasks, as these were designed by the Lisbon Treaty and the following legal provisions. This is even more meaningful if compared to Bruter’s 1999 analysis which, conversely, underlined the impossibility for Commission delegations to fulfil the traditional diplomatic duties of active legation – and the consequent need for them to “invent” a new kind of “consumer-oriented diplomacy”. Although this study did not mean to offer a comparison between the pre- and post-Lisbon delegations, the opposition between our findings and Bruter’s conclusions (1999) suggests that the upgrade of the role of delegations post-Lisbon was successfully achieved. Thanks to their upgraded role and capacities, EU delegations have the potential of establishing new practices in contemporary diplomacy, which may set the pace for present and future transformations in global diplomacy. As seen, contemporary diplomacy needs to adapt to fast transformations, involving “increasingly complex patterns of interaction” (Bátora & Hocking, 2007, p. 4) and “a myriad of factors, both structural and situational” (Cooper et al., 2015, p. 2). A fully achieved diplomatic legitimation for EU delegations might, in this sense, allow them to act as the “pioneers” not only of a European diplomatic system (Maurer & Raik, 2014) but also of a new, multi-layered way of conducting global diplomacy. Clearly, the significance of the above conclusion is limited to the extent to which the analysed case study can be generalised. Although we believe it to be relevant for the reasons exposed in § 4.2, it is important to acknowledge that each EU delegation stands out for different features with regard to policies and interests at stake (Austermann, 2015). As generalisations only partially apply, future studies are expected to test these same variables to different case studies.