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External Relations - Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)

Α. General Framework

The development of the economic integration process and the constantly expanding external action of the European Union, coupled with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the bipolar international system, opened up new paths for the European Union and clearly demonstrated the need to supplement economic integration with a common foreign and security policy.

The Balkan crisis of the 1990s and the European Union's inability to address the situation in its immediate neighbourhood was the catalyst for the institutionalisation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) with the Maastricht Treaty, which entered into force in 1993.

The objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy are to safeguard the common values, fundamental interests, independence and integrity of the Union, to strengthen its security, to maintain peace and to enhance international security, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the objectives of the Paris Charter, including those on the external borders. The European Union’s action on the international scene is aimed at promoting democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the principles of equality and solidarity.

Since the Treaty of Maastricht, the CFSP has developed through a specialised system of organs and specific actions.

The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force in 2009, introduced significant institutional changes with regard to the CFSP. In particular, the system of the rotating six-month Presidency by the member states was replaced by a permanent Presidency under the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who also holds the position of Vice-President of the European Commission. Lady Catherine Ashton (United Kingdom), a former Commissioner on trade issues, assumed the post of High Representative in 2009. On 1 November 2014, she was succeeded by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Ms. Federica Mogherini. The High Representative presides over the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU (including the Defence Minister and Development Minister Council configurations) and is assisted in the discharge of her duties by the European External Action Service (EEAS). This new Service is staffed by personnel from the European Commission, the General Secretariat of the Council, member-state diplomatic services.

Within the CFSP, the EU Special Representatives (EUSR) are an important tool for the promotion and coordination of the Union’s action in geographic or thematic areas.

Of particular importance within the framework of the CFSP is the mutual assistance clause (article 42.7 of the Treaty on the EU), which provides that if a member state is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other member states shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations Charter. In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon introduced a solidarity clause (article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU), which provides that in case a member state is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or other disaster, the Union and its member states shall act jointly, “in a spirit of solidarity,” by mobilising all instruments, including military resources.

B. Greece and the Common Foreign and Security Policy


Greece has always been a staunch supporter of the development of a Common Foreign and Security Policy, including the formulation of a common European identity in the field of defence. In this regard, and throughout the evolutionary process, Greece has actively supported the need to bolster the Union with a credible and strong foreign and security policy, which should have at its disposal the necessary institutional framework, coherence, cohesion and the operational tools to underpin the role of the EU on the international scene.

In a spirit of firm European solidarity, our country takes part in CFSP initiatives and substantially contributes to the formulation of EU foreign policy, particularly in regions in its neighbourhood (Western Balkans, Middle East, Mediterranean, North Africa, South Caucasus) with a view to tackling existing conflicts, consolidating peace and security, developing good neighbourly relations, and creating the necessary conditions for sustainable social and economic development in a stable regional environment.

According to the European Security Strategy, the fundamental framework of international relations is the Charter of the United Nations, which ascribes to the UN Security Council a principal role in preserving international peace and security. Of equal importance is the commitment of the EU member states to the principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts, while their principal objective is the development of an international system based on specific rules. All the above constitute longstanding positions of Greece.

Last Updated Thursday, 04 May 2017

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