Step 4. The HR/VP and the EEAS

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the High Representative is also Vice-President of the European Commission. This allows him/her to coordinate and ensure coherence in EU foreign policy as the European Commission has important international responsibilities such as trade, development, neighbourhood policy and humanitarian aid. The combination of these roles is to ensure the consistency and coherence of EU activities in the world and ensure they do not conflict or overlap.
They head the EU's diplomatic corps, the European External Action Service.

The role is wide-ranging. It involves:

    • The overall steering of foreign policy and security policy on behalf of the EU;
    • Coordinating the EU’s foreign policy tools – development, trade, neighbourhood policy, humanitarian aid and crisis response in her role as Vice-President of the European Commission;
    • Building consensus between the 28 EU member states and their respective priorities – including through chairing monthly meetings between EU foreign ministers, defence ministers, trade and development ministers;
    • Attending regular meetings between EU leaders in the European Council;
    • Speaking in debates at the European Parliament on foreign policy and security issues;
    • Representing the EU at international meetings, such as the United Nations;
    • Heading the European Defence Agency and the EU Institute for Security Studies.

Who appoints the High Representative/ Vice-President?

The European Council, which comprises the heads of state or government of all EU member states, appoints the HR/VP through a qualified majority vote. The President of the Commission must be in agreement with the decision.
The High Representative also holds the role of Vice-President of the European Commission, which is voted on as a body by the European Parliament before taking office.
The Commissioners are appointed for a five-year term, which is renewable and which coincides with the five-year mandate of the European Commission.