The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is the organised, agreed foreign policy of the European Union (EU). It operates as the second of the three pillars of the European Union as established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. Decisions require unanimity among member states in the EU's Council.
The CFSP sees the NATO responsible for the territorial defence of Europe and "peace-making" while since 1999 the European Union is responsible for implementation missions, such as peace-keeping and policing of treaties etc.
The weaknesses evident in EPC, over for example the Yugoslav wars, led to a desire to strengthen foreign policy. The Maastricht Treaty, which entered into force in 1993, established the European Union. The previous supranational European Economic Community became one of three pillars, the second being the CFSP. The CFSP pillar is based on intergovernmentalism, meaning unanimity between members in the Council, with little input from the other institutions.
The Amsterdam Treaty created the office of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (currently held by Javier Solana) to co-ordinate and represent the EU's foreign policy.
The High Representative, in conjunction with the current Presidency, speaks on behalf of the EU in agreed foreign policy matters and can have the task of articulating ambiguous policy positions created by disagreements among member states. The Common Foreign and Security Policy requires unanimity among the now 27 member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular policy. The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP means disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq, are not uncommon.
He also coordinates the work of the European Union Special Representatives. The treaties indicate that the function of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy is exercised by the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers. The High Representative also serves as the head of the European Defence Agency, the Western European Union and exercises the same functions over the European Security and Defence Policy as the CFSP. The current High Representative for the CFSP is Javier Solana, who has held the post since 1999.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) encourages increase in defence capabilities, military research and the establishment of a European internal market for military technology. Two bodies carried over from the Western European Union (see defence, below) are the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC), which deal with defence theory and satellite imagery respectively.
There is also the Western European Union (WEU), which is a European security organisation related to the EU. In 1992, the WEU's relationship with the EU was defined, when the EU assigned it the "Petersberg tasks" (humanitarian missions such as peacekeeping and crisis management). These tasks were later transferred from the WEU to the EU by the Amsterdam Treaty; they formed part of the new CFSP and the European Security and Defence Policy. Elements of the WEU are currently being merged into the EU's CFSP, and the President of the WEU is currently CFSP High Representative.
Following the Kosovo war in 1999, the European Council agreed that "the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and the readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO." To that end, a number of efforts were made to increase the EU's military capability, notably the Helsinki Headline Goal process. After much discussion, the most concrete result was the EU Battlegroups initiative, each of which is planned to be able to deploy quickly about 1500 men each. EU forces have been deployed on peacekeeping missions from Africa to the Balkans and the middle east. EU military operations are supported by a number of bodies, including the European Defence Agency, satellite centre and the military staff.
Besides its own foreign and security policy, the Commission is also gaining greater representation in international bodies. Representation in international bodies is primarily through the European Commissioner for External Relations, who works alongside the High Representative. In the UN the EU has gained influence in areas such as aid due to its large contributions in that field (see below). In the G8, the EU has the rights of membership besides that of chairing/hosting summit meetings. The EU is represented at the G8 by the presidents of the Commission and the Council. In the World Trade Organisation (WTO), where all 27 member states are represented, the EU as a body is represented by Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.
The influence of the EU is also felt through the enlargement. The potential benefits of becoming a member of the EU act as an incentive for both political and economic reform in states wishing to fulfil the EU's accession criteria, and are considered a major factor contributing to the reform and stabilisation of former Communist countries in Eastern Europe. This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as "soft power", as opposed to military "hard power".
The European Union's influential economic status and its nation-like characteristics has been acknowledged by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in their publication, The World Factbook. The EU was included in the Factbook in December 2004. More often now third countries are seeing the Union as either a potential superpower or a present one with its challenges to the United States and this is shaping the attitudes of, and attitudes towards, Europe.
The EU's aid has previously been criticised by the think-tank Open Europe for being inefficient, mis-targeted and linked to economic objectives. Furthermore, some charities have claimed European governments have inflated the amount they have spent on aid by incorrectly including money spent on debt relief, foreign students, and refugees. Under the de-inflated figures, the EU did not reach its internal aid target in 2006 and the EU would not reach the international target of 0.7% of GNP until 2015. However only a few countries have reached that target. In 2005 EU aid was 0.34% of the GNP which was higher than that of the United States and Japan. The current commissioner for aid, Louis Michel, has called for aid to be delivered more rapidly, to greater effect, and on humanitarian principles.
Mr Pflüger described Finland as neutral. I must correct him on that: Finland is a member of the EU. We were at one time a politically neutral country, during the time of the Iron Curtain. Now we are a member of the Union, part of this community of values, which has a common policy and, moreover, a common foreign policy.
Defence and military