The Common Foreign and Security Policy is an important component of the Union's external action. The principles and objectives which are to guide the Union's external action are set out in Article III-292. Within that framework, the Member States undertake to work together on international issues in mutual political solidarity. The CFSP covers all areas of foreign policy, including questions relating to security. Member States agree to consult one another on any foreign and security policy issues which are of general interest in order to reach a common position, where possible.
Started in the early 70s, at first in the form of "European political cooperation", the EU's foreign policy has developed steadily; the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties organised it as a distinct area of policy and also incorporated a common security dimension. The High Representative for the CFSP assists the Council Presidency in this area.
One of the two intergovernmental pillars of the European Union created by the Treaty on European Union. Its objectives are to safeguard the common values, interests and security of the EU, to preserve peace and strengthen international security, to promote international cooperation, and to develop democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It also aims to work for a common EU defence policy.