European Union - Foreign Relations

Foreign Relations

Foreign policy cooperation between member states dates from the establishment of the Community in 1957, when member states negotiated as a bloc in international trade negotiations under the Common Commercial Policy. Steps for a more wide ranging coordination in foreign relations began in 1970 with the establishment of European Political Cooperation which created an informal consultation process between member states with the aim of forming common foreign policies. It was not, however, until 1987 when European Political Cooperation was introduced on a formal basis by the Single European Act. EPC was renamed as the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) by the Maastricht Treaty.

The aims of the CFSP are to promote both the EU's own interests and those of the international community as a whole, including the furtherance of international co-operation, respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The CFSP requires unanimity among the member states on the appropriate policy to follow on any particular issue. The unanimity and difficult issues treated under the CFSP makes disagreements, such as those which occurred over the war in Iraq, not uncommon.

The co-ordinator and representative of the CFSP within the EU is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (currently Catherine Ashton) who speaks on behalf of the EU in foreign policy and defence matters, and has the task of articulating the positions expressed by the member states on these fields of policy into a common alignment. The High Representative heads up the European External Action Service (EEAS), a unique EU department that has been officially implemented and operational since 1 December 2010 on the occasion of the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The EEAS will serve as a foreign ministry and diplomatic corps for the European Union.

Besides the emerging international policy of the European Union, the international influence of the EU is also felt through enlargement. The perceived benefits of becoming a member of the EU act as an incentive for both political and economic reform in states wishing to fulfil the EU's accession criteria, and are considered an important factor contributing to the reform of European formerly Communist countries. This influence on the internal affairs of other countries is generally referred to as "soft power", as opposed to military "hard power".

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Foreign Relations

Foreign relations refers to the ongoing management of relationships between a public policy administrative organization of a state and other entities external to its authority or influence. The primary goal of such organisations is therefore to create, develop and manage foreign policy and therefore describes relationships as seen from the self-interested perspective of the state when viewing the international milieu.

The term foreign evolved during the mid-13th century CE from ferren, foreyne "out of doors," based on the Old French forain "outer, external, outdoor; remote" reflecting the sense of "not in one's own land" first attested in the late 14th century CE. Spelling in English altered in the 17th century, perhaps by influence of reign and sovereign, both associated at the time with the most common office of monarch that determined foreign policy, a set of diplomatic goals that seeks to outline how a country will interact with other countries of the world.

The idea of long-term management of relationships only evolved with the development of a professional diplomatic corps that managed diplomacy, a term attested since 1711, which was "pertaining to documents, texts, charters, and treaties" as the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or nations.

In the 18th century, due to extreme turbulence in European diplomacy and ongoing cultural, social, economic, political and military conflicts, the practice of diplomacy was often fragmented by the necessity to deal with isolated issues, termed "affairs", and therefore while domestic management of such issues was termed civil affairs (peasant riots, treasury shortfalls, and court intrigues), the term foreign affairs was applied to the management of temporary issues outside the sovereign realm. This term remained in widespread use in the English-speaking states into the 20th century, and remains the name of departments in several states that manage foreign relations. Although originally intended to describe short term management of specific concern, these departments now manage all day-to-day long-term international relations among states within the international system their nation participates in.

Foreign relations are governed by several conditions within which they exist:

  • Chronological - foreign relations may be operational and ongoing where other nations are concerned, or project-based and temporary where non-state international agents are concerned; they may relate to factors of historical or future considerations
  • Contextualised - foreign relations may be particularly affected by pertaining to regional, economic or common goal oriented international organisational issues, etc.
  • Environmental - foreign relations may develop to be cooperative, adversarial, predatory, altruistic, mentoring, parasitic, etc.
  • Dynamic - Contain a degree of dependence or interdependence; a colony would have a static relationship with the colonizer
  • Oriented - foreign relationships are ideally based on commitment to common goals, but can be dysfunctional, and even destructive

Organisations such as the Council of Foreign Relations in the USA are sometimes employed by government foreign relations organisations to develop foreign policy proposals as alternatives to existing policy, or to provide analytical assessments of evolving relationships.

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... here Prior to the creation of the Ministry, much of the country’s foreign relations were handled exclusively by the absolute monarchs of the day ... During the Kingdom of Ayutthaya foreign relations were handled by the “Krom Phra Khlang” (Thai กรมพระคลัง) (or the Treasury Department) ... พระคลัง) and occasionally referred to as "Berguelang" or "Barcelon" by foreign authors ...
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... Country Formal Relations Began Notes Albania See Foreign relations of Albania Autonomous Albanian Republic of Korçë Albania has an embassy in Paris ... Andorra See Andorra–France relations Austria See Austria–France relations Armenia See Armenia–France relations France and Armenia have a close relationship founded ... France has an embassy in Baku Belarus See Foreign relations of Belarus Belgium See Belgium–France relations Bosnia and Herzegovina See Foreign relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and ...

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