"I have appointed the best people for the right jobs. I am extremely pleased by the calibre of those who applied for the posts," said Ashton, who made a brief appearance in front of the Brussels press.
The list, published on the website of the European External Action Service, contains one appointment that was already known – that of Lithuanian diplomat Vygaudas Ušackas, who will be representing the EU in Afghanistan (EurActiv 23/02/10).
Three East Europeans
The Lithuanian's addition to the list was apparently designed to highlight the presence of diplomats from the new member states, as Ashton faced pressure from the European Parliament and national administrations to take on board representatives of the Union's newcomers.
Of the 28 new appointments, three went to Eastern Europe. Joanna Wronecka, who was until recently Poland's Ambassador to Morocco, will now represent the Union in Jordan. Tomasz Kozlowski, a Polish Commission official, will serve Ashton's service in South Corea. Philip Dimitrov from Bulgaria, who served as his country's prime minister in the early 1990s, will be the EU's ambassador to Georgia, a post which had been coveted by many East Europeans.
There were around one thousand applicants, officials explained later, with almost all member states reportedly having filed candidates. Some countries even had several candidates for the same post (EurActiv 27/08/10).
However, the majority of the successful candidates appear to have come from the ranks of the European Commission. These include posts in Bangladesh, Uganda, Senegal, Angola, Botswana, South Korea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Lebanon, Mozambique, Pakistan, the Philippines, Chad, Zambia and Papua New Guinea.
Officials explained that there were very few applicants for those regions and that this could be taken as a reason why Commission applicants were more successful in getting those jobs.
The most attractive posts, such as China and Japan, went to national diplomats, however. Germany's Markus Ederer, a career diplomat with experience in his country's intelligence services, got the Beijing job, while Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, Austria's current EU ambassador, will soon leave for Tokyo.
Three important posts remained unfilled and will have to be re-advertised, the officials explained – the ambassador posts in Brazil and Iraq, and a deputy chief of mission post in Washington.
The selection is also still ongoing for a Head of Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as for two ambassador-level posts with the UN and the WTO in Geneva, as Ashton had decided to upgrade the level of the post in Sarajevo and to split the existing Geneva position in two.
The selection implied a substantial effort by many officials, it was explained, while Ashton was involved in the final phase, personally interviewing 68 candidates. These included 11 candidates from the new member states.
There were 14 women candidates on the shortlist and seven were successful.
Next step is appointing senior management team
As Ashton briefly explained, the next step for her will be to select the senior managerial team of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
However, as the European Parliament was still withholding its decision on finances, she said her services would shortlist candidates and interview those selected but without making any appointments.
About 80 middle-management positions are still up for grabs, officials said.