At its sessions on foreign affairs, the Council deals with the whole of the Union's external action, including common foreign and security policy, foreign trade and development cooperation. A priority in recent years for the Council, in cooperation with the Commission, has been to ensure coherence in the EU's external action across the range of instruments at the Union's disposal.
The principles and objectives of the CFSP are to safeguard the common values, fundamental interests, independence and integrity of the Union, in conformity with the principles of the UN Charter; to strengthen the security of the Union in all ways; to preserve peace and strengthen the international community, in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter; to promote international cooperation; and to develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Council is also responsible for the Common Security and Defence Policy. Defence Ministers traditionally participate in Foreign Affairs Council meetings twice a year, in addition to their informal meetings (also twice a year).
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is the President of the Foreign Affairs Council, plays a key role in the formulation, preparation and implementation of the CFSP.
In the field of CFSP, the Political and Security Committee (PSC) helps define policies by drawing up opinions for the Council, without prejudice to the role of the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) in preparing Council sessions. Under the responsibility of the Council, the PSC also exercises political control and strategic direction of crisis management operations.
Comprehensive information (agenda, background note, etc) will be available closer to the date of the meeting on http:/www.consilium.europa.eu/councilmeetings