Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
An important task of the Austrian EU Presidency is the coordination of common measures with the other 24 Member States of the EU in the context of the so-called Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
Within the framework of CFSP (the 2nd pillar of the EU), the 25 Member States cooperate on an intergovernmental basis and agree common positions. Since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty on 1 November 1993, the EU as such may act on the international stage and elaborate the EU position on armed conflicts, human rights issues or other matters in coherence with EU basic principles and common values which it is obliged to uphold.
To achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness of EU foreign policy, it was decided upon the creation of the position of High Representative for CFSP in the Amsterdam Treaty. This post has been filled by Javier Solana since 18 October 1999. The CFSP provisions were lastly revised in the Treaty of Nice, which entered into force on 1 February 2003. Since then decisions by majority are possible in a greater number of areas. Additionally the Political and Security Committee was created. It normally meets twice per week to make decisions on CFSP issues and to monitor the implementation of operations within the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
EU Foreign Ministers meet regularly (normally once per month) in the General Affairs and External Relations Council, the framework in which EU foreign policy on key issues is agreed. There are also several CFSP mechanisms which are regularly applied. Three of these are legally binding instruments:
- Common Actions (29 agreed in 2003; 2004: 25)
- Common Positions (21 agreed in 2003; 2004: 23)
- Common Strategies (these cover a period of several years; the instrument currently exists for Russia, the Ukraine and the Mediterranean region).
The conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Councils, finalised following intensive consultations with Member States, are a key political instrument. Also of political importance, is the possibility of making EU statements (143 made in 2003: 2004: 141) and undertaking demarches to government representatives in third countries (157 undertaken in 2003; 179 in 2004).
Another important CFSP instrument is the post of EU Special Representative (EUSR). There are currently EUSRs for Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM/Macedonia, the Middle East Peace Process, the Great Lakes, the Sudan, the Southern Caucasus, Central Asia and Moldova.
In geographic terms, CFSP is currently focused on the Western Balkans, the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia as well as the conflict zones of Africa. Thematic priorities include the fight against terrorism, non-proliferation, conflict prevention, human rights as well as the strengthening of effective multilateralism.
The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) forms an integral element of CFSP.