Its main partners are the European Council, where the heads of State and Governments of all EU member states meet, the European Commission which is the EU executive and the European Parliament which is directly elected by EU citizens.
The EU's foreign policies are steered by the European Council and defined by the Foreign Affairs Council, which brings together the Foreign Ministers of the EU member states once a month in Brussels. The Foreign Affairs Council is responsible for the EU's external action, which includes foreign policy, defence and security, trade, development cooperation and humanitarian aid.
The HR/VP chairs these meetings. Once policies are determined by the Council, the EEAS, where appropriate, is mandated to implement and follow up on these.
The EEAS cooperates with the European Commission on many issues – adopting a comprehensive approach for the EU's foreign policy. The whole College of European Commissioners meets once a month and in addition every month the HR/VP chairs a meeting of all Commissioners whose portfolios deal with international issues – like trade and development for example.
The EU maintains diplomatic relations with nearly all countries in the world and undertakes a range of actions with strategic partners, key international players, and emerging and developing powers. Working alongside the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission’s service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) is responsible for operational expenditures in the crucial area of EU external action.
Finally, the EEAS also works with the European Parliament. The HR/VP regularly reports on foreign policy and his activities to the Members of the European Parliament and answers their questions. The EEAS assists the HR/VP with this task. The European Parliament provides a platform for exchange on foreign policy among institutional and governmental policy-makers, as well as civil society, including think tanks and academics. Along with the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament must approve the annual common foreign and security budget.