'Kingdom of the middle' - the inception, establishment and consolidation of the European External Action Service
2015-06-01T08:56:35Z (GMT) by
The establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS) was the latest organisational innovation aimed at bridging the disjuncture between EU external relations and foreign policy structures. Almost immediately after its creation, it attracted wide-spread criticism of its functioning by the very same actors who had created it. This thesis develops a three-stage bureaucratic-institutionalist framework in order to explore the political contestation of this new organisation and its impact on the organisation and functioning of the EEAS. Inception, establishment and consolidation are the three phases of the organisation s life cycle under scrutiny. The thesis begins with the inception of the EEAS during the Convention on the Future of Europe from 2002-2003. Through the lens of rational choice historical institutionalism it analyses the positions of various actors in the Convention and the options that were considered during this phase. It then shows how disagreements between integrationist and more sceptical groups led to a vague compromise on the EEAS and its organisational design. The thesis continues with an analysis of the establishment phase, i.e. the negotiation process leading to the EEAS decision of 2010, throughout which the political conflict continued between the EU institutions on central design elements of the service such as status, scope and staffing. Theoretically, this conflict is captured through the politics of Eurocratic structure approach. In the final consolidation phase, the EEAS started to operate as a new administrative actor, but was heavily influenced by political and bureaucratic contestation. Bureaucracy theory helps to predict the organisational behaviour of the EEAS to a degree, but the thesis shows how the organisation was also shaped by bureaucratic politics between EU institutions and member states. The thesis concludes that a bureaucratic-institutionalist approach explains why the EEAS is a strongly contested bureaucracy and how the processes of contestation at the EU level hindered institutional design throughout the organisation s life cycle of inception, establishment and consolidation. It reveals limitations of this approach, such as the persistence of actors, the weight of decision precedent and the permeability of organisational development phases.