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The European External Action Service and its diplomats: socialisation in a multinational bureaucracy

Final Report Summary - EEAS (The European External Action Service and its diplomats: socialisation in a multinational bureaucracy.)

One of the principal objectives of the Lisbon Treaty was to increase the coherence of the EU’s external policies by establishing the European External Action Service (EEAS). This new ‘functionally autonomous body’ was to bring together officials from the Council Secretariat General, the European Commission and the Foreign Ministries of the member states. Because of this particular organizational arrangement, the newly emerged EEAS provides a unique opportunity to study socialisation and attitude formation in a multinational bureaucracy. It comprises of officials of different nationalities, experiences, coming from different institutional backgrounds, with a varied nature of employment, for example: civilian and military; nationally delegated and those delegated by the EU institutions. Such diverse staff composition may cause problems with the emergence of an esprit-de-corps among its ranks.

This Marie Curie project contributed to a better understanding of the process of creating new, international institutions and helped to uncover the most pertinent challenges to its effective functioning. The researcher explored two sets of issues:

I) Establishing whether socialisation occurs among the officials from the EEAS and identifying what are the attitudes of EEAS officials, including diplomats delegated from the national ministries.

ii) Establishing the consequence of the socialisation processes for the mode of governance in CFSP and for the coherence and effectiveness of the institutional settings of European foreign policy. Explaining its implications for the democratic control mechanisms and consequently linking the study to the broader debates in political science and International Relations.

In order to achieve her research objectives, Dr Pomorska conducted intensive fieldwork in Brussels, where she interviewed and surveyed officials working for the EEAS and for the Permanent Representations of the EU member states. She has published her results several articles in leading journals in the field, such as the Journal of European Public Policy and Journal of Common Market Studies and is finalizing a book manuscript. Towards the end of the project, she organized an International Workshop at Sidney Sussex College, at the University of Cambridge, which brought together experts dealing with European Foreign Policy and European External Action Service. Dr Pomorska presented a final chapter of the monograph that deals with the consequences of socialization for the democratic accountability in foreign policy. Intense discussions and subsequent feedback will lead a forthcoming publication and an application for collaborative research network for scholars around the world who are interested in the European External Action Service.

In essence, Dr Pomorska has shown that while officials and diplomats hold similar views about the role of EU in the world and the role the EEAS should play, regardless of their institution of origin, there are serious obstacles to the emergence of the esprit-de-corps in the service. There is a lack of strong internal leadership capable of providing the organization with clear goals and communicating them clearly to the staff. Communication suffered from setbacks, in particular, before the establishment of the EEAS. The general negative public image of the organization, the lack of a clear training strategy, as well as the fact that the duration of training programmes remains too short, have also been detrimental to the emergence of esprit de corps. Finally, the fact that EEAS staff is composed of officials from different institutional environments has resulted in low levels of mutual trust within the Service. Altogether, this means that the evolution of esprit-de-corps faces serious challenges in the EEAS.

Regarding the consequences for the mode of governance in CFSP and the implications for the democratic control mechanisms, Dr Pomorska argues that in the absence of formal scrutiny by the European Parliament and national parliaments, it is very important that the policy-making procedures are transparent, that it is clear who takes what decisions and who needs to be accountable for what. The unclear tasks and expectations regarding the European External Action Service, mirrored in the various and sometimes clashing role-conceptions of its officials, blurs the standards according to which their performance should be evaluated and to which they should be held accountable. The importance of this exercise is emphasized by the fact that the EEAS is a newly established body an, arguably, we have not yet been able to witness its full capacities and influence in the decision-making process (e.g. in agenda-setting as suggested by Vanhoonacker and Pomorska 2013; this point was also emphasized by many interviewed officials and diplomats). If issues such as transparency and accountability are not properly discussed and the consequence understood at the beginning of the organizational life, it is very difficult to introduce change later on.

The details of Dr Pomorska’s findings may be found in the following publications (selected):
- Ana Juncos and Karolina Pomorska (2014). Manufacturing ‘esprit-de-corps’: the case of the European External Action Service. Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 52, no.3 pp. 302-319.
- Ana Juncos and Karolina Pomorska (forthcoming). Attitudes, identities and the emergence of an esprit de corps in the European External Action Service, in D. Spence and J. Batora (eds) The European Union’s external action: changing the face of European diplomacy, Palgrave.
- Ana Juncos and Karolina Pomorska (2013). In the face of adversity: explaining the attitudes of EEAS officials vis-à-vis the new service. Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 20, no. 9, pp. 1332-349.

A monograph is currently being finalized, taking into account the feedback received at the latest stage of the project.
In addition to many academic events and specialist publication, Dr Pomorska paid special attention to the wider dissemination of her findings. She has been active in teaching PhD students (among others, in international training schools) and delivering guest lectures for staff, students and local community, e.g. at East Anglia University, Central European University in Budapest, Maastricht University, Aston University, Loughborough University. She also took part in many events open to a wider public. Those included a Round Table at the University of Oxford, open event at the City of London or a Round Table at the Foreign Policy Centre in Bratislava. She has also been involved in the ‘Festival of Ideas’ at the University of Cambridge and has organized a Europe Research Seminar series at Cambridge in the academic year 2013-14. Finally, she had opportunities to discuss her findings with the officials and decision-makers in various Ministries of Foreign Affairs and in the EEAS and used her research findings to deliver trainings to, amongst others, high-level diplomats in Warsaw.

For further information, Dr Karolina Pomorska may be contacted by e-mail at or at the following mailing address: Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Grote Gracht 90-92, 6200 MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands.