Ahead of Parliament's votes on the changes to the EU financial regulation, the staff rules and the 2010 budget needed for the European External Action Service to be launched, EP rapporteurs Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT) Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE) and Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE) issued a joint press statement on Tuesday concerning geographical balance within the External Action Service.
The statement reads:
'The European Parliament ensured in its negotiations on the EEAS with Lady Ashton, the Commission and the Council that the issue of geographical balance has been dealt with comprehensively and effectively, in a legally binding way, in both legislative texts, the EEAS basic Decision and in the Rapkay Report on the Modification of the Staff Regulations.
Thanks to the EP, binding obligations have been laid down, ensuring that Lady Ashton has to observe the principle of geographical balance throughout the recruitment process and take additional measures in case any imbalances are identified in 2013.
The draft legislation as originally proposed by Lady Ashton and the Commission only mentioned the goals of geographic and gender balance in a very general, cursory way, and the Council did not either insist in its position on these principles.
As obvious from the attached overview, the Parliament managed to improve the original drafts in the following steps:
In the Madrid negotiations concluded on 21 June it was agreed that the EEAS staff is to comprise a meaningful presence of nationals from all EU Member States and that the review in 2013 is to result in "additional specific measures", if imbalances are found.
As a compromise agreed ahead of the EP plenary vote on 8 July, the Parliament underlined in its resolution that in its view, these specific measures to be taken in 2013 should include measures analogous to those provided for in Council Regulation 401/2004, which after the last enlargement enabled the application of temporary quotas.
In the trialogue on the Staff Regulation the EP ensured that wording agreed in Madrid also applies in the Staff Regulation, obliging Lady Ashton to recruit staff on the broadest possible geographical basis. In addition, Lady Ashton assures the Parliament in a declaration that she will use all her possibilities to achieve the objective of geographical balance and will yearly report on the occupation of posts in the EEAS.
Therefore, thanks to the Parliament, the issue of geographical balance has been dealt with effectively and in a legally binding way - which of course, in case of any doubt, is enforceable by law. However, it is at the same time done without distracting the attention of Lady Ashton from where her primary focus should go: ensuring that she recruits the best possible candidates, whatever their origin, to serve the EEAS as an EU community service. Any further provisions and/or quotas overemphasising EEAS staff nationality would in our view be detrimental to the communitarian nature of the Service."