Help Print this page 
Title and reference
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
Multilingual display
Text

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy

 

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THE HIGH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNION FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND SECURITY POLICY DO?

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (High Representative) is in charge of coordinating and carrying out the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), as well as the Common Security and Defence Policy. The High Representative is at the same time one of the Vice-Presidents of the European Commission and as such ensures that the EU's overall external action is consistent.

KEY POINTS

Appointment

The High Representative is appointed for a 5-year term by the European Council by a qualified majority vote (with the agreement of the President of the European Commission). The High Representative's appointment is also subject to a vote of consent by the European Parliament in line with Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union. This is because the High Representative is also one of the Vice-Presidents of the European Commission and the appointment of the European Commission as a whole needs the European Parliament's consent.

Responsibilities

The High Representative contributes to the development of the CFSP by submitting proposals to the Council of the EU and the European Council.

The High Representative then ensures the implementation of the decisions that are adopted.

As a Vice-President of the Commission, the High Representative ensures that the EU's overall external action in the areas of development assistance, trade, humanitarian aid and crisis response is consistent and effective.

The High Representative chairs the Foreign Affairs ministers' meeting within the Council of the EU.

The High Representative also represents the EU for matters relating to CFSP.

Other duties include heading the European Defence Agency and the EU Institute for Security Studies.

The European External Action Service

The High Representative is assisted in the performance of his or her duties by the European External Action Service (EEAS). The EEAS was established by the Lisbon Treaty and is based on Article 27 of the Treaty on European Union. It is composed of officials of the General Secretariat of the Council and of the Commission, as well as of staff seconded from EU countries' diplomatic services.

BACKGROUND

The position of the High Representative is based on Articles 18 and 27 of the Treaty on European Union. The 1999 Amsterdam Treaty created the position, although responsibilities in the matters of external policies were shared with the European Commissioner for External Relations. The 2009 Lisbon Treaty extended the responsibilities of the High Representative and made the office-holder a Vice-President of the Commission, to enable the High Representative to better represent the EU in its foreign policy objectives.

last update 24.11.2015

Top