The first ten years of the European External Action Service (EEAS) coincided with a time of considerable evolution in the global, European, and African landscape. This article explores the success of the EEAS strategic navigation of the EU’s inter-institutional and Member State relationships with Africa. Issues such as diplomatic relations, peace and security, and the Commission’s exclusive and shared competences in trade and development cooperation respectively are examined from the EEAS point of view. It highlights the strategic and practical constraints facing the EEAS that explain not only past challenges, but those that remain relevant for the future performance of the Service. It looks at issues in EEAS Headquarters (HQ) as well as within the EU Delegations and explores the relationship between the EEAS and EU external financial instruments. It concludes that given its relative youth, the EEAS did not perform badly despite the peculiar circumstances in which it found itself. Looking forward, the long and rather chequered history of EU–Africa relations could do with a better strategic touch, informed by clear insight regarding dynamics on the continent and the position and interests of African actors. This is an argument in favour of a more empowered EEAS at HQ and within Delegations.