Important Legal Notice


  European Commission > European Union in the World > External Relations

 Unified External Service of the European Commission


see also Introduction see also The Management of the External Service
see also The role of the Delegations see also Life in a Delegation
see also Interaction with Member State Embassies see also Contact & Web site

Interaction with Member State Embassies

It has to be stressed that the Delegations are not there to "compete" with Member State Embassies. Their respective roles and responsibilities are generally well defined, but not always well understood. The task of the Delegations, beyond the representation of Community interests, is one of co-ordination and co-operation in the interests of projecting the image of a Union, which is active, imaginative and truly united.

Article 20 of the Maastricht Treaty1 requires the Delegations and the Member States’ diplomatic missions to "co-operate in ensuring that the common positions and joint actions adopted by the Council are complied with and implemented". This extends beyond the CFSP. The Council, for example, has issued guidelines in connection with the implementation of external aid, aiming at closer co-operation between Member State Embassies and Commission Delegations as mentioned above. In general, the Delegations will seek to play an increasingly active role in helping to co-ordinate common positions between the Member States, which can then be fed back to the Commission, to the High Representative for CFSP and to Council Working Groups as an input to the policy-making process. The arrival of secure e-mail and other new technologies, should allow a far more active involvement of Delegations in the policy-making process, through participation in task-forces and policy reviews.

In performing these tasks, the External Service intends to develop a more confident and pro-active approach, reflecting the broad scope of EU external relations as well as the new profile and potential of CFSP. In this context Member State diplomats and other experts attached to Delegations as seconded National Experts, can make an especially useful contribution, bringing important outside experience. This is a resource, which the Commission is keen to develop further.

Also in a more "physical" sense is the co-operation between Member State Embassies and Commission Delegations moving forward. In November 2001 the foundation stone was laid for the construction of a joint embassy compound in Abuja, the new capital of Nigeria, benefiting from the need for all existing EU missions to relocate from the old capital. Within this compound the missions - although maintaining separate "national" premises - will share a number of common facilities, such as the visa section, in order to create a more efficient working climate, and reduce operating costs.

1) Article 20 : The diplomatic and consular missions of the Member States and the Commission Delegations in third countries and international conferences, and their representations to international organisations, shall co-operate in ensuring that the common positions and joint actions adopted by the Council are complied with and implemented.
They shall step up co-operation by exchanging information, carrying out joint assessments and contributing to the implementation of the provisions referred to in Article 20 of the Treaty establishing the European Community.