Gstöhl, Sieglinde (2012) European Union diplomacy: what role for training? EU Diplomacy Paper 03/2012, May 2012. [Working Paper]
This paper examines how and why the European Union’s (EU) external relations training developed over time. In the European Commission diplomatic training began rather late in the 1990s but within a few years it gained momentum, in particular in the run-up to the establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS). Overall, the EU’s approach to external relations training has been rather reactive and poorly coordinated across different initiatives. The EEAS offers the opportunity to develop a more coherent and more strategic long-term training concept. Both internal and external factors account for the incremental development of the EU’s external relations training. On the one hand, it underwent changes in response to Treaty reforms and the development of external action as well owing to more general administrative reforms in the Commission. On the other hand, external factors such as the changing nature of diplomacy itself or of training methodologies can be expected to have an impact on training needs and forms. The heterogeneous composition, expanded tasks and envisaged impact of the EEAS call for a joint professional training of its staff in order to promote socialisation effects toward of a common diplomatic culture and ‘esprit de corps’. In addition to imparting relevant knowledge and skills, training could thus serve as a strategic tool for the development of the Service and of EU external action. Yet, member states have different traditions of diplomatic training and diverging views on the additional need for training of their diplomats. Also the EU institutions appear to have a preference for the preservation of their own training initiatives at the expense of a more ambitious and more coherent approach.
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