HC Deb 21 January 2003 vol 398 c226W
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the recommendation of Working Group VII of the European Convention for an EU diplomatic service working under the authority of the proposed European External Representative; and if he will make a statement. [91545]

Mr. MacShane

We believe that it remains for EU member states to organise their respective bilateral Diplomatic Services at the national level, although co-ordination and co-location of diplomatic missions with EU partners may be appropriate. The External Action Working Group report makes clear that any EU Diplomatic Service would work alongside those of member states, not replace them.

The recommendation in the Working Group report is not that member states' bilateral embassies should work under the authority of the High Representative, but that the Commission's delegations should be re-badged as EU embassies/delegations, staffed by officials of the Commission, Council Secretariat and seconded national diplomats. These officials would work formally under the authority of the High Representative on Common Foreign and Security Policy issues, and under the authority of the Commission for other aspects of external action.