Steven Blockmans and Francesco Saverio Montesano (Centre for European Policy Studies)
Prior to taking the office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Vice President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini had stated several objectives of her agenda, some of which were to be achieved during the first 100 days of her office. Although many of them are still in their early stages, the new EU diplomacy chief has set things in motion and appeared as a pragmatist who works with a realistic interpretation of European values and interests.
Her greatest achievement so far is the strengthening of harmonization and cooperation in Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) between the institutions and the Member States. Within the European Commission, Mogherini re-introduced the practice of intra-collegial coordination regarding external action and she also chairs the group of Commissioners for external action twice in a month. On the level of the Foreign Affairs Council, she linked the CFSP with trade in the case of TTIP negotiations or with humanitarian aid. Furthermore, she shares her effort with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, in focusing on neighborhood policy while not omitting global issues.
She has undertaken several visits to Member States’ capitals where she, aside from government representatives, met the members of foreign, security, and defence committees, and also the representatives of civil society. As a result, she not only manages to gain political capital but also understands more deeply the impacts of individual states on EU foreign policy-making. For the time being, the most successful of her activities was the ‘Normandy format’ of talks with Russia on the crisis in Ukraine when Angela Merkel and François Holland remained in close contact with the EU and assumed a common opinion during the negotiations.
The most significant organizational changes the High Representative unleashed were in the European External Action Service where she merged the positions of the Executive Secretary General and Chief Operating Officer, re-structuralized many units, and moved the EU Special Representatives under her direct authority while also adding a new Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process. She often goes on missions abroad and issues joint statements with other Commissioners. Thanks to her active diplomacy and the number of issued reports and statements, Mogherini has been much more visible than her predecessor, Catherine Ashton. Hopefully, we will soon see more positive results of these changes in real politics.
(The study can be downloaded here)