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Common Foreign and Security Policy


One of the Austrian Presidency’s key tasks is to coordinate with the other 24 EU Member States action taken under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

In the context of the CFSP (the EU’s "2nd pillar”) the 25 Member States work on an intergovernmental basis and establish common positions. Since the Maastricht Treaty came into force on 1 November 1993, the EU as a body can act on the international stage in the framework of the CFSP and state its position on armed conflicts, human rights issues or other topics related to the basic principles and shared values that underpin the EU, and which it is committed to defend.

In order to increase the efficiency and external impact of EU foreign policy, the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) created the post of High Representative for the CFSP. Javier Solana has held this post since 18 October 1999. The provisions on the CFSP were most recently amended by the Treaty of Nice, which came into force on 1 February 2003. The most important change is the increase in the number of areas in which majority voting is possible. The Political and Security Committee was also set up. It usually meets twice a week to take decisions on CFSP issues and monitor the conduct of operations under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

The Foreign Ministers of the EU Member States meet regularly (usually once per month) in the General Affairs and External Relations Council, which establishes EU policy on key foreign policy issues.

The CFSP has three instruments, which are also regularly used:

  • Joint Actions (29 were adopted in 2003; 25 in 2004);
  • Common Positions (21 were adopted in 2003; 23 in 2004);
  • Common Strategies (they usually cover a period of four years; three have already been adopted: Russia in June 1999, Ukraine in December 1999 and the Mediterranean in June 2000).

The conclusions of the meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, which are finalised in intensive consultations among the Member States, are a key political instrument. The possibility to issue statements on behalf of the EU (143 in 2003; 141 in 2004) and to make representations to governments in non-member countries (157 in 2003; 179 in 2004) is also politically significant.

The EU special representatives (EUSR) are another important CFSP instrument. At present, there are EUSRs for Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM/Macedonia, the Middle East Peace Process, the Great Lakes, Sudan, the Southern Caucasus, Central Asia and Moldova.

Geographical priorities for the CFSP are currently the Western Balkans, the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia as well as the conflict zones of Africa. The thematic priorities are the fight against terrorism, non-proliferation, conflict prevention, human rights and reinforcement of effective multilateralism.

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is an essential part of the CFSP.

 

More information on the CFSP Presidency Programme:

Date: 20.12.2005