The European Union has converted 54 out of the European Commission's 136 foreign delegations, including the one in Vietnam, to embassy-type missions authorised to speak for the entire union.

The move came in response to the provision on EU structural reforms stipulated in the Lisbon Treaty which came into force on Dec. 1, 2009, said the online newspaper.

According to the decision, 54 foreign delegations of the EU were given the powers of embassies, which include coordinating the work of the member states' bilateral missions to the countries in question.

The heads of the 54 delegations are also empowered to speak on behalf of the EU as a whole. But their statements have to be pre-approved by the 27 EU member countries during meetings in Brussels.

Before the decision, all EU foreign delegations had to work under the management of the national embassies of the member states that hold the six-month EU presidency at any given time.

Now the 54 delegations are going to have a greater political role, providing the same function that was provided by the given member state holding the EU presidency before.

Eight of the newly-empowered units are in Europe, while 12 others are in Asia and Oceania. The rest are in Africa .

The 54 missions were selected by EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton following discussions with EU states./.