Skip to main content


The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is largely a result of challenges and geopolitical changes in the international community which emerged after the end of the Cold War. Its shaping is presented chronologically:


1970 – Within the framework of the European Political Cooperation (EPC), the European Community Member States launched consultations and coordination on the main problems of the international community outside the formal framework of the then integration.


1986 – The Single European Act formalised foreign policy cooperation without introducing major changes in the nature and methods of operation.


1993 – The Treaty on European Union (also called the Maastricht Treaty) replaced the EPC with the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) as the second, intergovernmental pillar of the new three-pillar structure of the EU, which represents a new important chapter of foreign policy cooperation.


1999 – The Amsterdam Treaty (Articles 11–28) contains revised provisions of the Maastricht Treaty on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). With a view to enhancing the consistency and effectiveness of external action, the Treaty also introduced the office of High Representative for the CFSP/Secretary-General of the Council, which was entrusted to Javier Solana.


2000 – The Nice European Council introduced new permanent political and military structures in the Council of the European Union (the Political and Security Committee – PSC, the European Union Military Committee – EUMC, and the European Union Military Staff – EUMS.


2003 – The Nice Treaty contains new provisions on the CFSP extending qualified majority voting to more areas of decision-making and the competence of the Political and Security Committee in civilian aspects of crisis management operations.


2004 – The Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe provides for both procedural and institutional strengthening of the CFSP. Several functions and bodies have been introduced for this purpose in the field of foreign policy: President of the European Council, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs and the European External Action Service. The project of the Constitutional Treaty had failed owing to the unsuccessful ratification process. Nevertheless, most of the provisions relating to the CFSP, which should improve the effectiveness of the EU’s external action in compliance with the mandate of the European Council in June 2007 for a new intergovernmental conference, were included in the new Reform Treaty.


2007 – Reform Treaty (also called the Treaty of Lisbon) signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 will not terminate the existing treaties but only supplement them (the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community – the latter will now be called the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). In the case of successful ratification in all Member States, the new Treaty is tentatively scheduled to take effect in the beginning of 2009.


In the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the main institutional novelties introduced by the Reform Treaty include the office of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the establishment of the European External Action Service. The new office of High Representative will unite the present roles of High Representative for the CFSP (Javier Solana) and External Affairs Commissioner (Benita Ferrero-Waldner). The High Representative will head the External Relations Council, replacing in this capacity the current six-month rotating presidency, and will at the same time be a Vice-President of the European Commission. The High Representative will also head the political dialogue with international partners and become the key EU representative in relations with the rest of the world. This should enhance the consistency and continuity of work in the field of foreign affairs and consequently the effectiveness and visibility of the Union’s functioning in the international arena.


The European External Action Service will represent the common European diplomatic service offering support for the work of the High Representative and will report directly to him. The European External Action Service will not replace the diplomatic and consular missions of the Member States, but will operate in close cooperation with them.


The Reform Treaty also provides for the office of permanent President of the European Council for a period of two and a half years, who will ensure the continuity of work of the European Council and external representation of the Union at the highest level (together with the new High Representative).The Treaty also introduces other important novelties, including the clause on enhanced cooperation, which will facilitate intensified cooperation for groups of Member States with greater interests or capacities in a certain field (establishment of enhanced cooperation is conditioned by a minimum of nine participating Member States).  The legal personality of the new European Union will be formally confirmed as well (uniting the current European Community and the European Union), which will enable the Union to sign international agreements and play a more visible role in the international arena.