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Analysing the Power of the European Union’s Diplomatic Service: Do the EU Member States Control the European External Action Service?

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By applying the rational choice principal–agent model, this article examines the European Union member states’ principal control of the European External Action Service (EEAS) agent. More specifically, the article applies mechanisms of agency monitoring, control and sanctions that are inherent in the principal–agent model to analyse the establishment and functioning of the EEAS. These mechanisms aim to ensure the EEAS’s compliance with its mandate, thereby curtailing its ability to pursue own objectives that are independent from the principal. The findings reveal that the EEAS is tightly controlled by the EU member states. Moreover the European Commission has tools to exercise horizontal checks vis-à-vis the EEAS. The application of the principal–agent model to control the EEAS is not without its limits. The model falls short of conceptualizing the role of the European Parliament, which remains an outlier to this model.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) 1000 Brussels Belgium


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