Common foreign policy has taken its first steps thanks, notably, to the institution by the Single European Act [see section 2.1] of European political cooperation, which provided for reciprocal information procedures and regular contacts in order to harmonise the viewpoints of the Member States in the field of international policy. The Treaty on European Union took a further step forward on the Single Act. Whereas under the latter, the Member States undertook to "strive to draw up" and implement in common a European foreign policy, in Title V of the EU Treaty they "undertake to define" and implement a common foreign and security policy (CFSP). This policy, formerly called the second pillar of the European Union [see section 3.1] [see section 3.1.], remains, however, an intergovernmental process detached from the ordinary legislative procedure and removed from the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice (Article 31 TEU). The Member States are advancing with caution into this new ground which, in the long term, will imply major transfers of national sovereignty [see sections 1.1.2, 1.5.2 and 1.5.5].
The Union's action on the international scene is guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.
According to Article 21 (TEU), the Union defines and pursues common policies and actions, and works for a high degree of cooperation in all fields of international relations, in order to:
(a) safeguard its values, fundamental interests, security, independence and integrity;
(b) consolidate and support democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law;
(c) preserve peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, with the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and with the aims of the Charter of Paris, including those relating to external borders;
(d) foster the sustainable economic, social and environmental development of developing countries, with the primary aim of eradicating poverty;
(e) encourage the integration of all countries into the world economy, including through the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade;
(f) help develop international measures to preserve and improve the quality of the environment and the sustainable management of global natural resources, in order to ensure sustainable development;
(g) assist populations, countries and regions confronting natural or man-made disasters; and
(h) promote an international system based on stronger multilateral cooperation and good global governance.
The Union's competence in matters of common foreign and security policy cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Union's security, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence (Article 24 TEU). The Council and the Commission, assisted by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy must ensure consistency between the different areas of the Union's external action and between these and its other policies (Article 21 TEU). The common foreign and security policy is put into effect by the High Representative and by the Member States, using national and Union resources (Article 26 TEU).
Member States must consult one another within the European Council and the Council on any matter of foreign and security policy of general interest in order to determine a common approach. Before undertaking any action on the international scene or entering into any commitment which could affect the Union's interests, each Member State must consult the others within the European Council or the Council. Member States must show mutual solidarity. When the European Council or the Council has defined a common approach of the Union, the High Representative and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Member States must coordinate their activities within the Council. The diplomatic missions of the Member States and the Union delegations in third countries and at international organisations must cooperate and contribute to formulating and implementing the common approach (Article 32 TEU).
Member States must coordinate their action in international organisations and at international conferences. They must uphold the Union's positions in such forums. The High Representative must organise this coordination. In international organisations and at international conferences where not all the Member States participate, those which do take part must uphold the Union's positions and must keep the other Member States and the High Representative informed of any matter of common interest. Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council must concert and keep the other Member States and the High Representative fully informed and must defend the positions and the interests of the Union. When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council must request that the High Representative be invited to present the Union's position (Article 34 TEU).
Part VI of this book examines the three basic areas of the Union's foreign policy: the common commercial policy [see chapter 23], the aid to development policy [see chapter 24] and the external relations of the European Community (until recently) and of the European Union (since 2010) [see chapter 25]. In the present chapter we examine only the institutional framework and the decision-making procedures of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) as well as all the questions relating to the common security and defense policy (CSDP).