Which institutional designs were preferred by the constitutional actors in order to establish the European Exter-nal Action Service (EEAS), and what may this tell us about the conceptions about European foreign policy as a whole? To conceptualize the nature of European foreign policy, we introduce three ideal conceptions of Euro-pean foreign policy which are deriving from three ideal conceptions of the EU as a polity. In order to answer the question which institutional designs were preferred in order to establish the EEAS we will look into the constitu-tional debates in the Convention as well as the following debates over the EEAS, especially during the imple-mentation phase in 2005. By doing this, we can see to which of the three conceptions the arguments speak. Three different indicators – overall function, legitimacy/authority and institutional set-up – enable us to analyze to which aspects of the conceptions the arguments speak in particular. By the overall mapping of the arguments, this paper shows, first, which institutional designs were – according to the arguments – preferred, and, second, that the arguments reveal different conceptions about the European foreign policy as a whole. Can we already see a move beyond intergovernmentalism in European foreign policy?