European Union External Action Service
The aim of the European External Action Service, or EEAS, is to improve the coherence and effectiveness of the EU’s external action as well as to build a permanent structure for handling the EU’s external relations.
The EEAS consists of its headquarters in Brussels as well as European Union Delegations located in third countries and international organisations. The EEAS assists the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in leading the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and in assuring the coherence of the EU’s external action.
The EEAS began operations at the start of 2011. The EEAS was formed of public servants from the EU Commission and the European Council Secretariat as well as public servants and experts sent by the Member States.
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
The High Representative leads the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. Mandated by the Member States, the High Representative presents proposals for policy formation and implementation. The High Representative also chairs the meetings of EU Foreign Ministers, or the Foreign Affairs Councils.
The High Representative represents the Union in matters related to the Common Foreign and Security policy. She conducts political dialogue with third countries on the Union’s behalf, and presents the EU’s positions in international organisations and at international conferences. The High Representative in practice serves as the Foreign Minister of the European Union. She also serves as the EU Commission Vice-President and is responsible for the coherence of EU external relations.
The High Representative is appointed by a qualified majority of the European Council and with the consent of the European Commission. Catherine Ashton was appointed to the post of High Representative as from 1 December 2009.
The EU Delegations handle matters pertaining to trade and development policy as well as negotiations, coordination, representation and communications associated with the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In addition, the Delegations can support the Member States by offering consular assistance to their citizens.
The EU Delegations strive to increase the EU’s visibility and to make the Union better known throughout the world. The European External Action Service complements the activities of national foreign ministries and embassies. The embassies of Finland play an important role in promoting Finnish interests locally and in providing consular services to citizens of Finland. As a small country, Finland benefits from the EU’s wide network of Delegations and the opportunities for cooperation it provides.
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