The European Union is a major player on the world stage with regional and global security interests and responsibilities. Through its common foreign policy, the EU speaks with one voice on key international issues.
The European Union is playing an essential role in the Middle East Peace Process, in diplomacy with Iran and in strengthening the stability of the Western Balkans, including Kosovo. It has troops, police and judges helping to save lives and stabilise countries and regions after conflicts across the globe. It provides emergency relief in the wake of disasters.
The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union was established by the Treaty of Maastricht, that entered into force in 1993, and was further reinforced by later treaties such as the Amsterdam Treaty (1999), the Nice Treaty (2003) or the Lisbon Treaty (2009).
Following the entry into force of The Treaty of Lisbon, on 1 December 2009, the European Council appointed Catherine Ashton as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. She chairs the Foreign Affairs Council and conducts the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The High Representative will be assisted, once it is established, by the European External Action Service (EEAS).
Among the aims of the Common Foreign Policy are:
-to safeguard the EU's values, fundamental interests, security, independence and integrity;
-to consolidate and support democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law;
-to preserve peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security;
-to assist populations, countries and regions confronting natural or man-made disasters.