"At the end of the day, it's the member states that decide whether they want to speak with one voice, and there are moments when there are divergences. The High Representative [Baroness Catherine Ashton] has difficulty expressing a common European view if one doesn't exist...It is our hope that [the EEAS] will facilitate this process...We cannot at the end of the day change fundamental disagreements between member states."Well put. As we've consistently argued, institutions cannot replace real policies - particularly in foreign affairs where it's clear that the EU remains a bloc of 27 national policies, which occassionally find common ground.
But his begs the question: what's the added value of the EEAS in the first place? If Ashton and the EEAS don't have the power to act in the absence of a common position shared by all 27 member states - a rare occurence indeed - is it then really worth spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers' money every year (€464 million only in 2011) to run a giant "facilitator"?
Given the criticism Ashton is facing (Only two weeks ago, Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere openly criticised her inability to get EU governments to agree on any of the most sensitive issues - not least the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East - during her first year in the job), we wonder if the good Baroness isn't starting to ask herself that question as well, despite some good talk.