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High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

The Amsterdam Treaty created the post of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the first holder of which was Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council. The Lisbon Treaty maintains the function of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, but extends their responsibilities by assigning them the functions of Council Presidency in matters of foreign affairs, of Commissioner responsible for External Relations and of High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The High Representative is one of the five Vice-Presidents of the European Commission and presides over the Foreign Affairs Council. They participate in the development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and implement it as mandated by the Council. They are responsible for external relations and the coordination of other aspects of the Union’s external action. They are also responsible for the Common Security and Defence Policy.

The High Representative is appointed by the European Council by a qualified majority, with the approval of the President of the Commission for a mandate of five years. The Council may end this mandate following the same procedure. The High Representative must tender their resignation if the President of the European Commission requests it.

In carrying out their missions, the High Representative is supported by a European External Action Service. This Service works in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States. It comprises officials from relevant departments of the General Secretariat of the Council and of the Commission, as well as personnel seconded from national diplomatic services.

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