What does it mean?
What does it involve?
Why do governments care about it?

In the European Union, foreign affairs present challenging issues because each individual member state controls certain aspects of its own foreign policy. For example, the EU is in charge of trade policy, but the member states are in charge of their own defense policies.

These are some of the issues that arise as the EU’s foreign policy expands:

  • Can the EU direct the foreign policy of all its member states without infringing on the foreign policy initiatives of each individual member state?
  • Should the EU have one single voice in all of its foreign policy areas, or just in certain areas?
  • In 2009 the Lisbon Treaty introduced a new position called the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy | FR. The person currently in this role is Josep Borrell Federica Mogherini from Spain for a five-year term (from 2019 until 2024). Should this person be the “voice” for the EU in all of its foreign policy? Should the EU’s “voice” be shared between this and another position? (For example: The Commissioner for Trade? Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries? Commissioner for International Partnerships? Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement? Somebody else?) Take a look at the European Commission’s Political Leadership and the various positions.

The EU’s foreign policy program is still developing, as it tries to sort out the above issues. Learn more about the EU and foreign affairs through the activities in this lesson!

Activity 1 A Foreign Affairs Brainstorming
Activity 2 About Europe’s External Relations
Activity 3 The European Union’s Global Partnerships
Activity 4 The EU and Trade

Extension: What is multilateral trade?

News Links

“US and Europe unite on Iraq aid”: from BBC News
“Croatia jumps queue to join EU”: from Times (London)
“Iran censured over nuclear probe”: from BBC News
“Agreed at Last”: from The Economist (on the role of foreign troops in Iraq)
“Most states will press ahead with integration”: from Times (London)