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European External Action Service

The Treaty of Lisbon contains two important institutional innovations that impact on EU external action, it creates:

  • A President of the European Council (renewable two and a half year term);
  • A High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (five year term). The High Representative is assisted by the European Union Extenral Action Service (EEAS).

The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the European Union's diplomatic corps and the main EU body engaged with foreign affairs. EEAS deals with the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), oversees the European intelligence service SitCen and manages general relations with non-EU countries. EEAS functions under the authority of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The EEAS is functionally autonomous from other EU bodies but has a legal responsibility to ensure that its policies are consistent with other EU policies. To help ensure this, the High Representative is also a Vice-President of the European Commission, and President of the Foreign Affairs Council.

EEAS has Delegations around the world, working on behalf of the people of Europe and representing the EU as a whole. EEAS staff comes from the European Commission, the General Secretariat of the Council and the Diplomatic Services of EU Member States.


  • COUNCIL DECISION of 26 July 2010 establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service (2010/427/EU).
  • Furners, M.: The Lisbon Treaty, the European External Action Service and the Reshaping of EU Development Policy, in: S. G√§nzle, S. Grimm & D. Makhan (eds.): The European Union and Global Development. An Enlightened Superpower in the Making? London: Palgavre, 2012.
  • Nivet, B.: Europeanizing European foreign policies by forging European diplomats? The European External Action Service (EEAS) beyond the institutional question: The human resources challenge to the Europeanization of foreign, security and defence policy. IRIS Working Paper July 2011.
  • Olsen, J.P.: Governing Through Institutional Building. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
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