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Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)

European Political Cooperation

European Political Cooperation began in the 1970s and aimed to give a political dimension to the EU's growing international role. Over time, the added value of Member States speaking with one voice has become increasingly evident. Eventually, the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 set up a formal Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP, French acronym PESC). This is an inter-governmental area, legally separate from the European Community, although the Commission is fully associated with CFSP. EU governments now exchange views on an hour-by-hour basis, and the EU reaches common positions on all key foreign policy issues.


When the Amsterdam Treaty came into force in May 1999, it included measures to strengthen CFSP. In particular, a new post was created of High Representative for CFSP, to coordinate CFSP and act as a public face for EU foreign policy worldwide.

The first High Representative is Javier Solana, formerly Secretary-General of NATO. The European Union is emerging as a major political player on the world stage. Dialogue on political issues takes place at all levels. Regular summit meetings at head of state level are held with key partners such as the United States, Japan, Russia and, most recently, China. The President of the Council of Ministers and the President of the Commission represent the EU in these meetings, now joined by the High Representative.

Under the CFSP, Member States co-ordinate an EU position on a range of pressing foreign policy issues. Respect for human rights is an EU priority across the globe - frequent formal protests are made to express concerns to third countries.