At least four of the European Union's eleven international envoys are likely to be scrapped early next year as the bloc's new diplomatic corps comes into service, EU sources said Thursday, dpa reported
The creation of the External Action Service (EAS), due to be launched on December 1, is heralding a profound restructuring of institutional architectures, driven by the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Diplomats say Ashton no longer sees the need for at least some of the EU Special Representatives (EUSR) around the world, either because EAS ambassadors are set to inherit their role or because other international representatives carry out much the same job.
EUSRs in the Middle East, Moldova, South Caucasus and Macedonia are thought to be facing the chop because EU member states agreed this week to have their mandates, expiring August 31, extended by only six months.
In contrast, mandates for envoys in Afghanistan, the African Union, Bosnia, Central Asia, Georgia, the Great Lakes region in Africa and Sudan are to be renewed for another year, indicating that they are set to say.
However, an EU diplomat stressed that while Ashton has made her intentions clear, a final decision on EUSRs will be taken by member states only in the autumn.
The source explained that it would make sense to abolish the EUSR in the Middle East, since the EU is already represented in the region by former British prime minister Tony Blair, envoy of the EU-United Nations-United States-Russia Quartet.
Scrapping the EUSR in the South Caucasus would be more controversial. While a large part of the region is covered by the envoy for Georgia, the EU would no longer have a special mediator dealing with the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabach.
An even fiercer battle is expected over the Kosovo EUSR, with some European governments arguing that it does not make sense for the bloc to have an envoy in Pristina when not all EU member states recognize its independence.
The debate is set to take place while EU states scramble to place their diplomats in the EAS' key positions. Ashton is set to appoint 30 EAS ambassadors in early September, including some destined to key countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and Brazil.
A further round of nominations is expected in November, when the the top ten posts within the EAS bureaucracy are set to be filled.
France is said to have secured the secretary general spot for its ambassador to the US Pierre Vimont, with German and Polish officials heavily tipped to be his deputies