The Treaty of Lisbon introduced common action capacities in the EU's external relations administration, notably the European External Action Service (EEAS). One essential capacity is staff resources. This article analyses to what extent and under what conditions the practice of staff recruitment to the EEAS is independent of government influence, and in particular the recruitment of officials temporarily assigned from EU member states. The data draw on interviews with officials from all 27 member states as well as the EEAS which is charged with the selection of national public servants to the EEAS. Key findings suggest substantial independence of recruitment to the EEAS, and this independence is facilitated under two particular conditions: (i) the supply of administrative capacities at EU level strengthens the capacity of the EEAS to nurture the independent recruitment of its personnel; and (ii) the recruitment of EEAS personnel is conditioned by pre-existing organizational traditions, practices, and formats.