Q&A: EU External Action Service

image captionLady Ashton wants the EEAS to have geographical and gender balance

The EU's new diplomatic service - the European External Action Service (EEAS) - was launched quietly on 1 December 2010, without any fanfare.

It is one of the key innovations under the EU's Lisbon Treaty, but there were tough negotiations over its structure and a deal was not reached until 21 June.

The EU foreign policy chief, UK peer Baroness Ashton, got European Commission support for her original blueprint, but the European Parliament argued successfully for changes to make the EEAS appointments and budget more transparent.

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