European Political Cooperation is the process of information exchange, consultation and common action among the twelve member states of the European Community ("the Twelve") in the field of foreign policy. Its aim is to maximize the Twelve's influence in international affairs through a single, coherent European approach. It is the essential counterpart to progress towards European unity in the Community framework. The key features of EPC are: decision-making by consensus among governments and direct contacts between foreign ministries, allowing speed and flexibility.