Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 15:05 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 15:05 | SYDNEY

EU goes stellar while DFAT vaporises


Alex Oliver


4 November 2010 11:37

So while the bean counters over there at Finance are licking their chops at the prospect of emasculating Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs by docking it for promoting free trade, the EU is busy with the task of taking foreign affairs seriously.

According to reports yesterday, the EU's new foreign service, the European External Action Service, will have a staff of 7000, an annual budget of £5.8 billion (that's, erm, A$9.3 billion), and 137 embassies. Don't forget, all the individual EU nations have their own foreign services already (the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for example, has around 4800 diplomats, a budget of £2 billion or so and around 250 posts).

Australia, which is an actual country, has 89 embassies/posts, a staff of around 2200, and a perpetually shrinking operating budget of around $1200 million — or considerably less, if you take off the inspired Finance Department penalties for wickedly depriving the Commonwealth of revenue from tariffs.

Reaction to the EU's aggressive global stance has been predictably sceptical, at a time when EU budgets are growing while individual EU members are hurting.

But worth thinking about, when one of the world's more economically and strategically powerful blocs demonstrates how vigorously it intends to pursue its foreign policy.

Photo by Flickr user y.caradec, used under a Creative Commons licence.