A principal-agent investigation into the discretionary power of the European external action service: the case of the Eastern Partnership
To address the shortcomings of the European Union’s (EU) external action in rapidly changing international affairs and to prepare for the EU’s “Big Bang” enlargement, the EU member states and institutions convened in the European Convention in the beginning of 21st century (2002-2003). The proposal to establish the European External Action Service (EEAS) was the centrepiece of the EU’s renewed foreign policy architecture, having both institutional and decision-making implications. The analysis of the negotiation process since the Convention reveals that the EEAS is a product of the compromise between the integrationist and non-integrationist member states (MS), the Commission and the European Parliament. The compromise however resulted in the sui generis body, which is neither supranational nor intergovernmental, has linkages with the MS, is somewhat accountable to the European Parliament and is required to cooperate with the Commission. Although the EEAS was built on the EU’s existing structures, its innovative institutional composition is a new experiment for the EU that already had a very sophisticated institutional architecture. This dissertation adapts and applies the principal-agent model to the analysis of the rationales behind the establishment of the EEAS and its control by the MS. Building on the existing literature, this dissertation systematically applies the principal-agent model to the analysis of the EEAS. More specifically, this study addresses four interrelated questions, two of which are related to the EEAS in general: a) What is the rationale behind power delegation by the MS principal to the EEAS agent? b) What is the degree of discretionary power enjoyed by the EEAS agent vis-à-vis the MS? Principal-agent model assumes that an agent’s discretion vis-à-vis its principal may vary depending on the area of agent’s intervention.