A third of the diplomats who will staff the future European External Action Service (EEAS) will come from the EU's member states by 2013, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

Šefčovič, who is in charge of administration and human resources at the EU executive, said EU foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton would have no problem putting down such commitments on paper.

By 2013, at least one third of diplomats in the EEAS will be officials who come from EU member states, he said, citing pledges made by Ashton at the last meeting of EU foreign ministers on 26 April.

"I think we will see the blueprint of this proposal from her very soon," said Šefčovič.

But he insisted that his own duties would be limited to negotiations with the EU Council of Ministers and trade unions over changes to be made to the EU's Staff Regulation.

"Regarding personnel policy, this is and will be the duty of Cathy Ashton, because she is the appointing authority. All the procedures will be organised by her," he said.

Šefčovič said about 1,100 officials were due to join the EEAS from the Commission and the Council at this initial stage.

"These people are of course AD status and they will be officials in the External Action Service," he explained.

The 'AD' group is Commission jargon for members of staff across twelve grades, ranging from director-generals (grade AD 16) to heads of unit (grade AD 10), translators or scientists (grade AD8) and the lowest grade, AD5 (junior researchers and junior translators).

Šefčovič said a compromise had been reached on the procedure for appointing heads of delegations. He explained that the Council had accepted that the Commission must also have a say over who will head the EU's delegations abroad.

Asked to comment on the European Parliament's rejection of Ashton's latest draft architecture for the EEAS (EurActiv 21/04/10), Šefčovič stressed that the Parliament's role was limited to approving or rejecting the budget.

MEPs from the Parliament's three largest political groups apparently went beyond this mandate when they stated that Ashton's proposal "does not reflect the Community interest or promote genuine European added value".

"Of course, now we have to take into account the major preoccupations of [MEPs] regarding staff regulations, budget and accountability to the European Parliament," Šefčovič said.

To read the interview in full, please click here.