European Union plans for a diplomatic service to boost its influence on the world stage came under threat on Wednesday from turf wars among the bloc's institutions.
Political groups in the European Parliament said they could strike down a proposal by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton for the service, on the grounds it gave too much power to EU governments.
Leaders of the European Parliament's three largest groups, the rightist European People's Party as well as the Socialists and the Liberals, said they wanted more debate on the plan with the executive European Commission and member state governments.
"The proposal currently on the table ... does not promote a genuine European added value but rather the return of intergovernmentalism," they said in a statement.
The External Action Service (EAS) is being created under the EU's Lisbon reform treaty in the hope of giving the 27-state bloc the same clout in foreign policy as it has in finance and trade.
But rival visions for the service have emerged, causing tensions in the EU and threatening Ashton's plans to have it approved this month.
The EAS is expected to employ more than 3,000 diplomats and have missions in almost every country. But Ashton needs to secure parliament's backing.
A prolonged battle would be a setback for attempts to smooth decision-making in the bloc, a key goal of the Lisbon treaty.
Turf wars in the EU have plagued other policy proposals since the launch of the treaty in December.
Diplomats accused parliamentarians of trying to grab power when they failed to ratify an agreement between the EU and Washington in February on sharing information about money transfers in Europe with terror investigators from the United States.
The investigators say such data transfers are vital for chasing people suspected of terrorist activities, but members of parliament said the deal failed to protect the privacy of EU citizens.
ReutersLast Mod: 21 Nisan 2010, 20:28