Frenchman to manage EU's new diplomatic corps
The European Union handed the management of its vast new global diplomatic corps to a Frenchman on Monday as foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton named France's US ambassador her deputy.
Pierre Vimont, who was appointed to the Washington post by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in August 2007, takes the plum day-to-day management job of secretary-general of the European External Action Service.
English baroness Ashton, who holds overall political control of the service, also named an Irishman, David O'Sullivan, to the job of chief operating officer.
"I promised to appoint the brightest and best," said Ashton in a statement. "I have done just that."
Described by the bloc as the "diplomats' diplomat" with a career spanning more than 30 years, Vimont has worked for a succession of French foreign ministers and has also been posted in London.
EU High Representative Ashton gave the names to foreign ministers of member states meeting in Luxembourg, who endorsed the final legal texts covering the service's multi-million-euro budget.
The EEAS was a key innovation under the EU's Lisbon Treaty, which came into force less than a year ago, aiming to give the bloc's half a billion population a higher profile on the world stage.
Remaining key appointments will be finalised over the coming weeks, Ashton added.
© 2010 AFP