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The foreign policy of the European Union in a nutshell

There are four major EU institutions involved in foreign policy decision-making: the Council (which brings together government ministers of the 27 member states), the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European External Action Service (EEAS) which is headed by the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy (HRVP).

The HRVP (currently the Spaniard Josep Borrell) is appointed by the European Council (heads of government of the EU member states) for a term of usually five years. Ex officio, he is also a member of the European Commission, of which he is a vice-president.The HRVP also chairs meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council and as such has a leading role in two EU institutions, which is unique. The HRVP heads the European External Action Service (EEAS), which is the diplomatic service of the European Union. The EEAS manages EU delegations in third countries and prepares proposals for decisions and actions.

Decision-making on foreign policy is slightly different than in other policy areas.

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