The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the European Union's diplomatic service. Its role is to make sure the voice of the European Union and its people are heard in the world.
A key aspect of the work of the EEAS is its ability to work closely with the foreign and defence ministries of the 28 member states of the EU and the other EU institutions such as the European Commission, Council and Parliament. It also has a strong working relationship with the United Nations and other International Organisations.
The daily work of the EEAS is overseen by its Secretary-General Helga Schmid who is assisted by three Deputy Secretaries-General: Christian Leffler, Jean-Christophe Belliard and Pedro Serrano.
The EEAS is divided into both geographical and thematic directorates. Five large departments cover different areas of the world – Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe and Central Asia, the Greater Middle East and the Americas. Separate departments cover global and multilateral issues which include, for example, human rights, democracy support, migration, development, response to crises and administrative and financial matters. The EEAS also has important Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) planning and crisis response departments. The EU Military Staff is the source of collective military expertise within the EEAS and also advises the High Representative / Vice-President on military and security issues.
Following the Treaty of Lisbon, the EEAS is responsible for the running of EU Delegations and Offices around the world.
The 139 Delegations play a vital role in representing the EU and its citizens around the globe and building networks and partnerships. The main role is to represent the EU in the country where they are based and to promote the values and interests of the EU.
They are responsible for all policy areas of the relationship between the EU and the host country – be they political, economic, trade or on human rights and in building relationships with partners in civil society. In addition they analyse and report on political developments in their host country. They also programme development cooperation through projects and grants. A fundamental aspect of a Delegation is its public diplomatic role which consists in increasing the visibility, awareness and understanding of the EU.
Delegations are diplomatic missions and are usually responsible for one country, although some are representatives to several countries. The EU also has Delegations to international organisations like the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation for example.