The world is becoming increasingly multipolar, mainly due to the economic and geopolitical rise of a group of emerging countries, particularly China. This international transition bears major consequences for the European Union (EU), which sees its international position becoming increasingly challenged. The EU has started to redefine its foreign policy and reach out to new strategic partners, such as China and Africa, in order to remain a relevant international player. The current transition towards a multipolar world order also presents a challenge for European foreign policy research. So far, the academic literature has only focused marginally on conceptualising the EU’s changing international role. This paper addresses the theoretical gap in the literature on European foreign policy (EFP) and proposes a new analytical framework for the study of the EU in a changing global order. The framework proposed in this paper is centred around the concept of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) and presents an attempt to move away from an inward-looking analysis to a conceptual framework that integrates the EU’s strategic partners into the study of European foreign policy. The empirical trend of EU-China-Africa relations serves as the main case study for testing the analytical tool of CSP.