Empowering Europe


Barring a last-minute change of heart, European heads of government will sign off this month on a new agreement to beef up the European Union’s foreign policy machinery by strengthening the role of the EU High Representative. This change is long overdue.

Currently, the High Representative’s budget is less than what the European Commission spends on cleaners for its Brussels offices. With just 500 staff, and only a handful of overseas representatives, a foreign policy apparatus meant to embody the collective will of 27 EU governments is outspent and out-staffed by most small African countries.

This should change when a new foreign policy chief is appointed to oversee the EU’s external trade, defense, and aid policies. But this welcome institutional innovation will not answer a more fundamental question: is Europe serious about having a coherent and vigorous foreign policy?