O'Sullivan secures top post in new EU diplomatic service


EUROPEAN FOREIGN policy chief Catherine Ashton has appointed one of Ireland’s most senior EU officials to a top management post in her new diplomatic service.

David O’Sullivan, who heads the trade division of the European Commission, will be the first chief operating officer of the European External Action Service (EAS) when the body is established on December 1st.

In this role he will be responsible for day-to-day operational management in the service, an organisation which will have diplomatic missions around the globe.

The establishment of the EAS is seen as a significant bureaucratic task in its own right, not only because of its international reach.

Baroness Ashton has appointed EU ambassadors to the service from within the commission and from the foreign ministries of member states, creating a challenge for them to align their work to a common purpose.

Mr O’Sullivan’s appointment will be ratified next Monday in Luxembourg after EU foreign ministers sign off on the staff regulations for the EAS, the final procedural act in long political battle to establish the new service.

Between 2000 and 2005 Mr O’Sullivan was the most senior civil servant in the EU executive, holding the post of secretary general of the commission. He was succeeded in that post by an Irishwoman, Catherine Day.

Since then he has been director general for trade. It was in this capacity that he first worked with Ms Ashton, who was trade commissioner before her appointment last year as EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

More recently he has worked with trade commissioner Karel De Gucht and previously worked with Peter Mandelson, Ms Ashton’s predecessor in the trade portfolio.