View Full Version : New diplomacy : reshaping the world of embassies

19-01-06, 12:46
BBC News : US moves diplomats out of Europe (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4626590.stm)

The US is to reduce the number of its diplomats posted to Europe, and will send more to other countries, including China, India, Nigeria and Lebanon.

"America must begin to reposition our diplomatic forces around the world," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday.

She said it was an anomaly that the US had the same staff levels in Germany as in India, more than 10 times the size.
Although the state department has 7,440 diplomats in foreign countries, there are nearly 200 world cities of more than a million people in which the United States has no formal diplomatic presence, she said.

I agree with the move. It's a long time I noticed the incoherence of having so many embassies, and often big ones, within Europe.

First of all, the EU is increasingly going toward a united diplomacy and foreign policy. EU citizens have the right to seek refuge in the embassy of any other member-state since 1993. Non-EU citizens get a visa for the EU "Schengen area", not for individual countries anymore. In an EU where all citizens can freely move, live and work across borders, what is the point for member-states to sustain expensive embassies and consulates in other member-states ?

I don't see why France should have an embassy and 2 consulates in Brussels and one more in Luxembourg (2h away by car or train), when the French border is 30min away from Brussels (Paris is 1h away by TGV, and some Parisian even commute to work from Brussels) and 10min away from Luxembourg City. Yet they do. But in a country like Japan, 13x bigger than Belgium and remote from everything, France only has one embassy and consulate.

It's only natural that the USA should reduce its staff in Europe. No need to have 25 embassies and even more consulate in a politically united region, when countries like China an India, both bigger and more populous, only have one embassy and a few consulates each.

I therefore suggest that EU countries of the Schengen area shut down their embassies and consulates, or greatly reduce the staff in each other's countries, and redeploy them like the US, in big developing countries. I also think that there should be a big EU-Schengen embassy with many consulates, with service in each official language, rather than many small embassies. This would be more cost-effective and also allow a more effective distribution of consulates in big countries like China, Japan, India, Brazil, the USA or Canada, rather than have a multitude of EU-member-state embassies almost side by side in each capital.