The creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) is one of the key innovations introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. It aims at making the European Union's external action more coherent and efficient, thereby increasing the European Union's influence in the world.
The EEAS assists Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to fulfil her mandate. The EEAS also chairs the working groups of the EU Foreign Affairs Council. It works in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States and comprises officials from the relevant departments of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union and of the European Commission, as well as staff seconded from the national diplomatic services of the EU Member States.
The EEAS builds upon the network of over 130 EU Delegations and Offices around the world. The EU Delegations also manage and implement, in close cooperation with the European Commission DG DEVCO (Directorate-general Development Cooperation), the deconcentrated EU development cooperation programmes in countries and regions. This represents the largest part of EU development assistance.
The EEAS, the EU Delegations and the European Commission can contribute to the promotion of the decent work agenda, including ratification and application of international labour standards, such as through human rights dialogues and development assistance.