European Union told to beef up New Delhi embassy

March 8th, 2010 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, March 8 (IANS) Britain and Sweden have urged the European Union (EU) to build bigger embassies in New Delhi, saying such a move was needed for “shaping the world of tomorrow” through its planned new diplomatic corps.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband and his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt wrote to the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton saying the 27-nation bloc should create “larger and more political” representations in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and - possibly for global security-related reason - Pakistan.

“Although our relationship with the US will remain the most important, we firmly believe that our ability to be part of shaping the world of tomorrow is critically dependent on our ability to deepen and broaden our relationship with these states,” they said in the letter sent March 3.

The letter came ahead of an informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting last week in Cordoba, Spain, which was to debate the structure of the EU’s new diplomatic corps - the External Action Service (EAS) - amid mounting concern over alleged cronyism in the selection of top EU diplomats.

In the run-up to Ashton’s final EAS proposals due by March-end, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso last month appointed a close Portuguese ally, Joao Vale de Almeida, as the EU’s ambassador in Washington.

With some 30 key posts due to be named in the coming months - including the head of the EU mission to the UN in New York - Miliband and Bildt urged Ashton to ensure that member-states are adequately represented in the new diplomatic service, whose shape and structure are to be agreed by April.

Their letter said future EAS recruitment procedures should be “transparent and based on merit”.

“It is important that you can take the lead in the overall management of the network of delegations,” the letter to Ashton said. “It (the EAS) must have the keys to its own house.”

They added: “We are concerned about some of the inter-institutional struggles evident in our current negotiations.”

Miliband later said the letter was aimed at demonstrating support for Ashton, who has been under attack since her appointment Dec, 2009 for being indecisive, particularly in rushing out to Haiti after the recent earthquake.

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