Common Foreign and Security Policy, CFSP

Common Foreign and Security Policy, CFSP

The EU started as a common market designed to allow free movement of people and goods between European countries. Since then the countries involved have agreed to have other common policies. 

A Common Foreign and Security Policy was developed through the so-called "Pillar II" of the EU treaties.

The Lisbon Treaty strengthened the common foreign policy by establishing a joint foreign and defence office in Brussels. In 2009, they started to recruit 7000 diplomats to the common diplomatic service. In 2013 there  were 3374 employed in the EEAS headquarter and delegations, see   EEAS – Annual report 2013

Within the CFSP, the most important decisions were previously decided by unanimity voting. The Lisbon Treaty provides for qualified majority vote when the proposals are put forward by the EU "foreign minister".   



- First, the European Council - the prime ministers and presidents - decide the strategic guidelines and the objectives for a common policy, with unanimity according to Article 22.1 TEU. 

- Then, the Foreign Minister - the High Representative - puts forward a proposal, eventually together with the Commission, Article 22.2 TEU.

- Finally, the Council of Ministers decides the concrete decisions and the election of "special representatives" by qualified majority – Article 33 TEU.

- When a military involvement is involved the decisions must always be taken by unanimity - Article 42.4 TEU.

- This system of decision-making also covers the representation of the EU in the UN.  See where the Lisbon Treaty mentions the UN under United Nations. 




- The EU Court in Luxembourg cannot rule against countries unwilling to implement the CFSP. 

- European Defence and Security Policy is part of the CFSP, but is subject to different rules always requiring unanimity. See Defence

- High Representative Javier Solana was appointed as common "foreign affairs minister " before the draft EU Constitution was rejected.  

- The Lisbon Treaty took away his title of foreign minister, so Solana was still the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy until the new "foreign minister" was appointed and placed  as Vice-President in the Commission. 

- The British life-peer Catherine Ashton, former head of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, was appointed to the job at a special summit in Brussels on 19 December 2009 and was replaced by the Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini in 2014. 

- Under the Lisbon Treaty  the post of High Representative is merged with that of the European Commissioner for External Relations under a new title of "High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy". 

- The Lisbon Treaty provides for a double-hatted EU “Foreign Minister” appointed by the European Council, accepted by the EU Commission President and approved together with the rest of the Commission by the European Parliament as a vice-chair in the Commission responsible for Foreign Relations. This proposal was submitted by France and Germany.   

- There are 139 EU Commission delegations in other countries and international organisations and most of them have been turned into EU embassies. For rules on common foreign policy, see the Lisbon Treaty Article 18 TEU and Article 205 (and further articles) TFEU. 


See also Defence and Political and Security Committee, PSC



 European External Action Service – Graphic Presentation