What is the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)

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The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was established as the second pillar of the European Union in the 1993 Treaty on European Union signed at Maastricht. A number of important changes were introduced in the Amsterdam Treaty which was enforced in 1999. Common Foreign and Security Policy since then has seen a number of developments.

One change implemented is the agreement to embark on a common security and defense policy (CESDP) within the overall framework of the CFSP. The European Council at Laeken of 14-15 December 2001 adopted a declaration on the operational capability of the ESDP which officially recognized the capability of the Union to conduct crisis management operations. Certain changes to the CFSP provisions of the treaty were agreed at the Nice Treaty.

The Amsterdam Treaty outlines the five primary objectives of CFSP:

* to safeguard common values, fundamental interests, independence and integrity of the Union in compliance with the principle of the United Nations Charter ;
* to strengthen the security of the Union in all means;
* to maintain peace and reinforce international security, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the goals of the Paris Charter , including external borders
* to promote international co-operation;
* to develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The treaty also identifies several ways in which these objectives are to be pursued:

* defining the principles and general guidelines for the common foreign and security policy, which is done by the European Council ;
* deciding on common strategies. These instruments were introduced by the Amsterdam Treaty and set out overall policy guidelines for activities with individual countries. Each strategy specifies its objectives, its duration and the resources that will have to be provided by the EU and the Member States. So far there are Common strategies on Russia, Ukraine, Mediterranean and the Middle East Peace Process. They too are decided by the European Council .
* adopting joint actions and common positions. Member States commit to adopt a certain position and a certain course of action decided by the General Affairs Council . .

A system of regular political dialogue with a range of third countries has been set up. This is usually with troika meetings at ministerial, senior officials and working group level, summits and in some cases, meetings with all Member States and the Commission at ministerial or senior officials’ level.

As a whole, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) offers an exciting aspect to the entire work of the EU. The institutions of the EU are now involved in most of the traditional fields of international diplomacy. The enforcement of the Treaty of Nice and the improvements to the European Security and Defense Policy will provide possibilities for further development of this field of European policy.


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