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The European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy

The European Union´​s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) enables it to act and express its position on the international stage. It was originally set up as a mechanism for coordinating the foreign policies of the various countries and was subsequently incorporated into the acquis communautaire of the Treaties by the Maastricht Treaty of 1997. The CFSP was consolidated with the Treaty of Lisbon of 2009, which established a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (the position currently held by the Spaniard Josep Borrell, who also holds the post of Vice-President of the European Commission) and a European External Action Service (EEAS), a genuine European diplomatic corps at the service of the aforesaid High Representative, and provided the Union with its own legal personality and the capacity to enter into agreements with both States and international organisations.

The objectives of the CFSP, as set out in Article 21 of the Treaty of the European Union, are to maintain peace and strengthen international security, to promote international cooperation with third countries and to advance and consolidate democracy and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. To this end, the European Union maintains partnerships and political dialogues, based on mutual interests and benefits, with the main international players and regularly holds Summits with those countries with which the EU has a strategic partnership, as well as many meetings at various levels with other countries and regional bodies from the different continents.

In order to fulfil the objective of maintaining peace and strengthening international security, the Union has equipped itself with a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It is an integral element of the CFSP, providing operational capacity abroad, in the form of civilian missions and military operations in third countries.  

Spain is promoting the development of a solid European Security and Defence Policy, with effective institutions and structures and adequate resources. During the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2010, reflection on the most significant issues in the field of crisis management was addressed: the development of capabilities and the improvement of the comprehensive approach were at the heart of the debate. At an internal level, the Union faced the need to promote coherence in its policies and to strengthen relations with other countries and international organisations such as the United Nations, NATO and the African Union in the external sphere.

In 2017, the European Council, actively supported by Spain and other Member States, launched Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defence (PSC or PESCO). This is an enhanced cooperation mechanism improving coordination and increasing defence investment in the development of defence capabilities, as stated in Articles 42.6 and 46 of the EU Treaty and Protocol 10 thereto.

In the field of operations, Spain evidences its involvement in the CSDP by providing political support but also by contributing assets and capabilities to the missions the Union deploys in different geographical regions. In recent years Spain's action has focused on two fundamental regions: the Horn of Africa and West Africa, with operations and missions including EUNAVFOR ATALANTA, EUTM-Somalia, EUCAP Nestor, EUCAP Sahel and EUTM-Mali. In the field of capabilities, since 2006 Spain has led three Battlegroups, units formed by a coalition of Member States and made available to the European Union on a rotating basis in the field of the CSDP. Spain has furthermore participated in three Battlegroups led by other EU countries.

In the European institutional sphere, Spain continues to promote work on the CSDP within the framework of the enlarged Weimar Group, a forum for debate on the subject which brings together Germany, France, Italy, Poland and Spain with the aim of fostering the development of the CSDP.​


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