Tuesday 13. April 2021

What can the EU do?

- What can the EU do? -

 The EU´s role in foreign affairs is on the one hand conducted through its diplomatic arm – the European External Action Service (EEAS) whose head is the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy having at the same time the role of Vice-President of the European Commission. The EEAS represents the strategic interests of the EU as a single body and helps to maintain partnerships and dialogue on various topics with key international players. Abroad, the EU is represented by a number of EU Delegations, which have similar functions to those of an embassy. In the light of the current wave of instability and violence in EU’s neighbourhood, the EU recently reviewed its Neighbourhood Policy with a view to enhance the partnership and cooperation with its southern and eastern neighbours.  


Under the Common Security and Defence Policy, the EU aims at contributing to international security and peace.  It has performed a number of peacekeeping operations and civilan missions worldwide which carry out a variety of tasks from conflict prevention to border management and local police training. Recently, the EU presented its new Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy which aims at providing a strategic framework for dealing with the new security challenges.


Also in cases of man-made or natural disasters, the EU provides funding for emergency relief to victims in the framework of its humanitarian aid policy. The central institution for coordinating European humanitarian assistance is the European Community’s Humanitarian Office (ECHO).


Through its development policy, the EU also supports countries in their efforts to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development worldwide according to the recently adopted Sustainable Development Agenda. In addition, through dialogue with third countries, it also endeavours to promote respect for the rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms. For enhancing the effectiveness and visibility of its human rights policy, the EU has appointed a Special Representative for Human Rights.


Thanks to its common commercial policy and its gradually extended exclusive competences, the EU has also become a major world player in international trade. It is the principal trading partner of more than 100 countries worldwide. As a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the EU has also been an active player in the Doha Development Agenda with the objective of further liberalising trade, while at the same time improving developing countries' access to global markets. Currently, the EU is negotiating a number of bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States.