Leaders of the world's major economies on the G7 Summit 2019, Biarritz, France
Leaders of the world's major economies on the G7 Summit 2019, Biarritz, France

Although there has been a large degree of integration between European Union member states, foreign relations is still a largely intergovernmental matter, with the 27 members controlling their own relations to a large degree.[citation needed] However, with the Union holding more weight as a single bloc, there are at times[vague] attempts to speak with one voice, notably on trade and energy matters. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy personifies this role.

Policy and actors

Further information: Common Foreign and Security Policy and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

The EU's foreign relations are dealt with either through the Common Foreign and Security Policy decided by the European Council, or the economic trade negotiations handled by the European Commission. The leading EU diplomat in both areas is the High Representative Josep Borrell. The council can issue negotiating directives (not to be confused with directives, which are legal acts[1]) to the Commission giving parameters for trade negotiations.[2]

A limited amount of defence co-operation takes place within the Common Security and Defence Policy. However, it is hoped that defence co-operation and integration between member states will be improved by establishing a Military Planning and Conduct Capabilities (MPCC)" unit focused on military operations.[3]

Diplomatic representation

Further information: List of diplomatic missions of the European Union and Ambassadors of the European Union


Map of European Union diplomatic missions: .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  European Union member states and UK   European Union delegation, full Lisbon duties assumed   European Commission delegation duties only   Accreditation from non-resident delegation   European Union non-diplomatic mission only   non-diplomatically responsible non-resident delegation   no European Union mission, accreditation or responsibility assigned
Map of European Union diplomatic missions:
  European Union delegation, full Lisbon duties assumed
  European Commission delegation duties only
  Accreditation from non-resident delegation
  European Union non-diplomatic mission only
  non-diplomatically responsible non-resident delegation
  no European Union mission, accreditation or responsibility assigned

The High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the EU's predecessor, opened its first mission in London in 1955, three years after non-EU countries began to accredit their missions in Brussels to the Community. The US had been a fervent supporter of the ECSC's efforts from the beginning, and Secretary of State Dean Acheson sent Jean Monnet a dispatch in the name of President Truman confirming full US diplomatic recognition of the ECSC. A US ambassador to the ECSC was accredited soon thereafter, and he headed the second overseas mission to establish diplomatic relations with the Community institutions.[4]

The number of delegates began to rise in the 1960s following the merging of the executive institutions of the three European Communities into a single Commission. Until recently some states had reservations accepting that EU delegations held the full status of a diplomatic mission. Article 20 of the Maastricht Treaty requires the Delegations and the Member States' diplomatic missions to "co-operate in ensuring that the common positions and joint actions adopted by the Council are complied with and implemented".[4]

As part of the process of establishment of the European External Action Service envisioned in the Lisbon Treaty, on 1 January 2010 all former European Commission delegations were renamed European Union delegations and till the end of the month 54 of the missions (marked with in the list of diplomatic missions) were transformed into embassy-type missions that employ greater powers than the regular delegations. These upgraded delegations have taken on the role previously carried out by the national embassies of the member state holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union and merged with the independent Council delegations around the world. Through this the EU delegations take on the role of co-ordinating national embassies and speaking for the EU as a whole, not just the commission.[5]

The first delegation to be upgraded was the one in Washington D.C., the new joint ambassador was João Vale de Almeida who outlined his new powers as speaking for both the Commission and Council presidents, and member states. He would be in charge where there was a common position but otherwise, on bilateral matters, he would not take over from national ambassadors. All delegations are expected to be converted by the end of 2010.[6] Some states may choose to operate through the new EU delegations and close down some of their smaller national embassies, however France has indicated that it will maintain its own network around the world for now.[7]


The Delegation of the European Union to Australia in Canberra
The Delegation of the European Union to Australia in Canberra

See also: List of diplomatic missions of the European Union

The EU sends its delegates generally only to the capitals of states outside the European Union and cities hosting multilateral bodies. The EU missions work separately from the work of the missions of its member states, however in some circumstances it may share resources and facilities. In Abuja it shares its premises with a number of member states.[8] Additionally to the third-state delegations and offices the European Commission maintains representation in each of the member states.[9]

Prior to the establishment of the European External Action Service by the Treaty of Lisbon there were separate delegations of the Council of the European Union to the United Nations in New York, to the African Union and to Afghanistan - in addition to the European Commission delegations there. In the course of 2010 these would be transformed into integrated European Union delegations.[10]

Member state missions

Map of countries coloured according to the number of EU members embassies
Map of countries coloured according to the number of EU members embassies

The EU member states have their own diplomatic missions, in addition to the common EU delegations. On the other hand, additionally to the third-state delegations and offices the European Commission maintains representation in each of the member states.[9] Where the EU delegations have not taken on their full Lisbon Treaty responsibilities, the national embassy of the country holding the rotating EU presidency has the role of representing the CFSP while the EU (formerly the commission) delegation speaks only for the commission.

Member state missions have certain responsibilities to national of fellow states. Consulates are obliged to support EU citizens of other states abroad if they do not have a consulate of their own state in the country. Also, if another EU state makes a request to help their citizens in an emergency then they are obliged to assist. An example would be evacuations where EU states help assist each other's citizens.[11]

No EU member state has embassy in the countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados (EU delegation), Belize (EU office), Bhutan (Denmark Liaison office), Dominica, Gambia (EU office), Grenada, Guyana (EU delegation), Kiribati, Liberia (EU delegation), Liechtenstein, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa (EU office), Somalia, Solomon Islands, Swaziland (EU office), Tonga, Tuvalu, the sovereign entity Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the partially recognised countries Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Republic of China (Taiwan) (17 non-diplomatic offices). The European Commission also has no delegations or offices to most of them (exceptions mentioned in brackets).

The following countries host only a single Embassy of EU member state: Central African Republic (France, EU delegation), Comoros (France), Lesotho (Ireland, EU delegation), San Marino (Italy), São Tomé and Príncipe (Portugal), Timor-Leste (Portugal, EU delegation), Vanuatu (France, EU delegation). The European Commission also has no delegations or offices to most of them (exceptions mentioned in brackets).


Africa and the Middle East

Country Formal Relations Began Notes

Algeria has been independent since 1962. Relations are governed by a 2002 association agreement and Algeria is part of the Union for the Mediterranean. EU exports to Algeria in 2009 amounted to €14.6 billion, with €17.3 billion of imports coming from Algeria.[12]


In January 2021, a joint letter concerning the deterioration of human rights situation in Bahrain was written to the European Union. The letter was undersigned by the human rights and advocacy groups from around the world, including ADHRB, Amnesty International, Freedom House, CIVICUS, PEN International, etc. The EU members were demanded to address the deteriorating condition of human rights in Bahrain with the Bahraini delegation expected to visit Brussels on February 10, 2021 for an EU-Bahrain interactive human rights dialogue. The letter called out the arbitrary detention of journalists for their critical work in Bahrain, unfair prosecution of defense lawyers, human rights defenders, and opposition leaders, death penalty, and mistreatment of prisoners. The European External Action Services (EEAS) acknowledged the letter on 25 January 2021.[13]

 Cape Verde
 Comoros 2018
 Egypt 1966

A 2004 association agreement has seen trade between the EU and Egypt double. EU exports to Egypt are now worth €14.8 billion and Egyptian exports to the EU are €7.2 billion. The EU is now Egypt's main trading partner and both cooperate within the Union for the Mediterranean.[14]

 Iran None

The EU is Iran's largest trading partner, accounting for a third of all Iranian exports. 90% of these are energy related and Iran is the EU's sixth largest energy supplier. In 2008 Iranian exports to the EU amounted to €11.3 billion and imports from the EU amounted to €14.1 billion. EU exports to Iran are mainly machinery and transport (54.6%), manufactured goods (16.9%) and chemicals (12.1%).[15] In 2011, Iran ranked 7th in exporting crude oil to Europe and a Eurostat report stated that 27 European states imported 11.4 billion Euros of goods from Iran in the first nine months of 2011.[16] There is significant room for growth, though this is hampered by the nuclear dispute. A Trade and Cooperation Agreement was installed in 2002 but has been on hold since 2005 because of the dispute. There are no bilateral treaties as Iran is not a member of the WTO.[15]


Trade between the EU and Israel is conducted on the basis of the Association Agreement. The European Union is Israel's major trading partner.[17] In 2004 the total volume of bilateral trade (excluding diamonds) came to over €15 billion. 33% of Israel's exports went to the EU and almost 40% of its imports came from the EU.

Under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement, the EU and Israel have free trade in industrial products. The two sides have granted each other significant trade concessions for certain agricultural products, in the form of tariff reduction or elimination, either within quotas or for unlimited quantities. However, goods from Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories are not subjected to the free trade agreement, as they are not considered Israeli. In 2009, a German court solicited the European Court of Justice for a binding ruling on whether goods manufactured in Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories should fall under duty exemptions in the Association Agreement. The German government stated as its position that there can be no exemption from customs duty for "goods from the occupied territories".[18] The court, agreeing with the German government, ruled in February 2010 that settlement goods were not entitled to preferential treatment under the customs rules of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and allowed the EU to impose import duties on settlement products.[19]

In December 2009, the Council of the European Union endorsed a set of conclusions on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict which forms the basis of present EU policy.[20] It reasserted the objective of a two-state solution, and stressed that the union "will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties." It recalled that the EU "has never recognised the annexation of East Jerusalem" and that the State of Palestine must have its capital in Jerusalem.[21]

A year later, in December 2010, the Council reiterated these conclusions and announced its readiness, when appropriate, to recognise a Palestinian state, but encouraged a return to negotiations.[22] Eight of its then 27 member states had recognised the State of Palestine

 Ivory Coast

Prior to the 2011 Libyan civil war, the EU and Libya were negotiating a cooperation agreement which has now been frozen.[23] The EU worked to apply sanctions over the Libyan conflict, provide aid and some members participated in military action.[24]

 Mozambique 2018

Relations between the European Union and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) were established in 1975 as part of the Euro-Arab Dialogue.[25] The EU is a member of the Quartet and is the single largest donor of foreign aid to Palestinians.[26][27]

The EU maintains a representative office in Ramallah, accredited to the PNA.[28] The PLO's general delegation in Brussels, accredited to the EU,[29] was first established as an information and liaison bureau in September 1976.[30] Other representations are maintained in almost every European capital, many of which have been accorded full diplomatic status.[25]

In western Europe, Spain was the first country granting diplomatic status to a PLO representative, followed later by Portugal, Austria, France, Italy and Greece.[31]

The EU has insisted that it will not recognise any changes to the 1967 borders other than those agreed between the parties. Israel's settlement program has therefore led to some tensions, and EU states consider these settlements illegal under international law.[32][33]

In July 2009, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana called for the United Nations to recognise the Palestinian state by a set deadline even if a settlement had not been reached: "The mediator has to set the timetable. If the parties are not able to stick to it, then a solution backed by the international community should ... be put on the table. After a fixed deadline, a UN Security Council resolution ... would accept the Palestinian state as a full member of the UN, and set a calendar for implementation."[34]

In 2011, the Palestinian government called on the EU to recognise the State of Palestine in a United Nations resolution scheduled for 20 September. EU member states grew divided over the issue. Some, including Spain, France and the United Kingdom, stating that they might recognise if talks did not progress, while others, including Germany and Italy, refused. Catherine Ashton said that the EU position would depend on the wording of the proposal.[35] At the end of August, Israel's defence minister Ehud Barak told Ashton that Israel was seeking to influence the wording: "It is very important that all the players come up with a text that will emphasise the quick return to negotiations, without an effort to impose pre-conditions on the sides."[36]

 Qatar 2018
 South Africa

South Africa has strong cultural and historical links to the European Union (EU) (particularly through immigration from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (a former member), Germany, France, and Greece) and the EU is South Africa's biggest investor.[37]

Since the end of South Africa's apartheid, EU South African relations have flourished and they began a "Strategic Partnership" in 2007. In 1999 the two sides signed a Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) which entered into force in 2004, with some provisions being applied from 2000. The TDCA covered a wide range of issues from political cooperation, development and the establishment of a free trade area (FTA).[37]

South Africa is the EU's largest trading partner in Southern Africa and has a FTA with the EU. South Africa's main exports to the EU are fuels and mining products (27%), machinery and transport equipment (18%) and other semi-manufactured goods (16%). However they are growing and becoming more diverse. European exports to South Africa are primarily machinery & transport equipment (50%), chemicals (15%) and other semi-machinery (10%).[38]


The EU is Tunisia's largest trading partner and it was the first Mediterranean country to sign an association agreement with the EU and fully implement it (enabling a free trade area). It participates in the Union for the Mediterranean and has signed a dispute mechanism agreement with the EU. EU exports to Tunisia in 2009 were worth €8.9 billion and Tunisia's exports to the EU were worth €7.9 billion.[39]

 Uganda 2018
 United Arab Emirates 2018
 Western Sahara

In 2017, Federica Mogherini, the foreign minister of the European Union stirred controversy and diplomatic confusion over her statement that the trade agreements between Morocco and the EU would not be affected by the 2016 ruling by the European Court of Justice on the scope of trade with Morocco. This ruling confirmed that bilateral trade deals, such as the EU–Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, covers only agricultural produce and fishing products originating within the internationally recognized borders of Morocco, thus explicitly excluding any product sourced from Western Sahara or its territorial waters. The international community, including the EU, unanimously rejects Morocco's territorial claim to Western Sahara.[40][41][42][43]


The Americas

Country Formal Relations Began Notes

The European Union relations and cooperation with Barbados are carried out both on a bilateral and a Caribbean-regional basis. Barbados is party to the Cotonou Agreement, through which As of December 2007 it is linked by an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Commission. The pact involves the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) subgroup of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). CARIFORUM is the only part of the wider ACP-bloc that has concluded the full regional trade-pact with the European Union. There are also ongoing EU-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and EU-CARIFORUM dialogues.[44] The Mission of Barbados to the European Union is located in Brussels, while the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados and its regional neighbors is in Bridgetown.


Canada's relationship with Europe is an outgrowth of the historic connections spawned by colonialism and mass European immigration to Canada. Canada was first settled by the French, and after 1763 was formally added to the British Empire after its capture in the Seven Years' War. The links may diminish after the United Kingdom left the EU in 2020: the UK has extremely close relations with Canada, due to its British colonial past and both being realms of the Commonwealth.

Historically, Canada's relations with the UK and USA were usually given priority over relations with continental Europe. Nevertheless, Canada had existing ties with European countries through the Western alliance during the Second World War, the United Nations, and NATO before the creation of the European Economic Community.

The history of Canada's relations with the EU is best documented in a series of economic agreements:

In 1976 the European Economic Community (EEC) and Canada signed a Framework Agreement on Economic Co-operation, the first formal agreement of its kind between the EEC and an industrialized third country.

Also in 1976 the Delegation of the European Commission to Canada opened in Ottawa.

In 1990 European and Canadian leaders adopted a Declaration on Transatlantic Relations, extending the scope of their contacts and establishing regular meetings at Summit and Ministerial level.

In 1996, a new Political Declaration on EU-Canada Relations was made at the Ottawa Summit, adopting a joint Action Plan identifying additional specific areas for co-operation.

Caribbean (region) The independent countries of the Caribbean region (Namely the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) + Dominican Republic are known by the European Union as CARIFORUM (under the Lomé Convention and Cotonou Agreement). CARIFORUM makes up one of three parts of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. CARIFORUM remains the only region of the A.C.P. to have concluded with the E.U. an Economic Partnership Agreement. Under the EPA, the E.U. maintains an active joint ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
 Cayman Islands
 Costa Rica
 Dominican Republic
 El Salvador
 Falkland Islands
Latin America (region) The Union has been developing ties with other regional bodies such as the Andean Community and Mercosur, with plans for association agreements between the EU and the two other blocs underway to help trade, research, democracy and human rights.[45][46] Chile and Mexico have an Association Agreement with the EU.

A 2.6-billion euro financial package for Latin America was also put forward[45] with 840-million euro for Central America.[47] A major forum for European relations with Latin America is the Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union Summit, a biannual meeting of heads of state and government held since 1999.

 Greenland Greenland is an autonomous territory of an EU member state, but lies outside of the EU, and hence although it is not part of the EU, it has strong ties to it.
 Panama 2018
 Puerto Rico
 Sint Eustatius
 Trinidad and Tobago 2018
 Turks and Caicos Islands
 United States

The European Union and the United States have held diplomatic relations since 1953.[48] The two Unions play leading roles in international political relations, and what one says matters a great deal not only to the other, but to much of the rest of the world.[49] And yet they have regularly disagreed with each other on a wide range of specific issues, as well as having often quite different political, economic, and social agendas. Understanding the relationship today means reviewing developments that predate the creation of the European Economic Community (precursor to today's European Union)

Euro-American relations are primarily concerned with trade policy. The EU is a near-fully unified trade bloc and this, together with competition policy, are the primary matters of substance currently between the EU and the USA. Both are dependent upon the other's economic market and disputes affect only 2% of trade. See below for details of trade flows.[5]

Both the United States and the European Union as of 2005 have an arms embargo against China (PRC), put in place in 1989 after the events of Tiananmen Square. The U.S. and some EU members continue to support the ban but others, spearheaded by France, have been attempting to persuade the EU to lift the ban, arguing that more effective measures can be imposed, but also to improve trade relations between China and certain EU states. The U.S. strongly opposes this, and after the PRC passed an anti-secession law against Taiwan the likelihood of the ban being lifted diminished somewhat.

 Uruguay 2018


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
ASEAN (organisation) There are annual meetings between the EU and the ASEAN Plus Three however relations have been strained with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since Burma (Myanmar) joined the group, which is facing EU pressure over human rights abuses by its military regime. The European Union threatened to boycott an EU-ASEAN meeting when Myanmar was due to take over the presidency of ASEAN, Myanmar eventually gave up the presidency.[50] As of April 2007 the commission is pursuing a free trade agreement with ASEAN.[51]

Australia and the European Union (EU) have strong historical and cultural ties. The two have solid relations and often see eye-to-eye on international issues. The EU-Australian relations are founded on a Partnership Framework, first agreed in 2008. It covers not just economic relations, but broader political issues and cooperation.[52]

The EU is Australia's second largest trading partner, after China, and Australia is the EU's 17th. Australia's exports is dominated by mineral and agricultural goods. However 37% of trade is in commercial services, especially transportation and travel. EU corporations have a strong presence in Australia (approximately 2360) with an estimated turnover of €200 bn (just over 14% of total sales in Australia). These companies directly created 500,000 jobs in Australia. The EU is Australia's second largest destination of overseas investment and the EU is by far Australia's largest source of foreign investment €2.8 billion in 2009 (€11.6 billion in 2008). Trade was growing but ebbed in 2009 due to the global financial crisis.[53]

 China The EU is China's largest trading partner, and China is the EU's second largest trading partner. Most of this trade is in industrial and manufactured goods. Between 2009 and 2010 alone EU exports to China increased by 38% and China's exports to the EU increased by 31%.[54][55] However, there are sources of tension, such as human rights and the EU's arms embargo on China. Both the United States and the European Union as of 2005 have an arms embargo against the PRC, put in place in 1989 after the events of Tiananmen Square. The US and some EU members continue to support the ban but others, spearheaded by France, have been attempting to persuade the EU to lift the ban, arguing that more effective measures can be imposed, but also to improve trade relations between the PRC and certain EU states. The US strongly opposes this, and after the PRC passed an anti-secession law against Taiwan the likelihood of the ban being lifted diminished somewhat.

There have been some disputes, such as the dispute over textile imports into the EU (see below). China and the EU are increasingly seeking cooperation, for example China joined the Galileo project investing €230 million and has been buying Airbus planes in return for a construction plant to be built in China; in 2006 China placed an order for 150 planes during a visit by the French President.[56] Also, despite the arms embargo, a leaked US diplomatic cable suggested that in 2003 the EU sold China €400 million of "defence exports" and later, other military grade submarine and radar technology.

Interest in closer relations started to rise as economic contacts increased and interest in a multipolar system grew. Although initially imposing an arms embargo on China after Tiananmen (see arms embargo section below), European leaders eased off China's isolation. China's growing economy became the focus for many European visitors and in turn Chinese businessmen began to make frequent trips to Europe. Europe's interest in China led to the EU becoming unusually active with China during the 1990s with high-level exchanges. EU-Chinese trade increased faster than the Chinese economy itself, tripling in ten years from US$14.3 billion in 1985 to US$45.6 billion in 1994.[57]

However political and security co-operation was hampered with China seeing little chance of headway there. Europe was leading the desire for NATO expansion and intervention in Kosovo, which China opposed as it saw them as extending US influence. However, by 2001 China moderated its anti-US stance in the hopes that Europe would cancel its arms embargo but pressure from the US led to the embargo remaining in place. Due to this, China saw the EU as being too weak, divided and dependent on the US to be a significant power. Furthermore, it shared too many of the US' concerns about China's authoritarian system and threats of force over Taiwan. Even in the economic sphere, China was angered at protectionist measures against its exports to Europe and the EU's opposition to giving China the status of market economy in order to join the WTO.[57]

However, economic cooperation continued, with the EU's "New Asia Strategy", the first Asia–Europe Meeting in 1996, the 1998 EU-China summit and frequent policy documents desiring closer partnerships with China. Although the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis dampened investors enthusiasm, China weathered the crisis well and continued to be a major focus of EU trade. Trade in 1993 saw a 63% increase from the previous year. China became Europe's fourth largest trading partner at this time. Even following the financial crisis in 1997, EU-Chinese trade increased by 15% in 1998.[57]

 French Polynesia
 Hong Kong The EU and Hong Kong share values of democracy, human rights and market economics. Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Brussels is the official representation of Hong Kong to the European Union.[58]

The EU and Japan share values of democracy, human rights and market economics. Both are global actors and cooperate in international fora. They also cooperate in each other's regions: Japan contributes to the reconstruction of the western Balkans and the EU supports international efforts to maintain peace in Korea and the rest of Asia.[59]

The EU Japanese relationship is anchored on two documents: the Joint Declaration of 1991 and the Action Plan for EU-Japan Cooperation of 2001. There are also a range of fora between the two, including an annual summit of leaders and an inter-parliamentary body.[59] Both sides have now agreed to work towards a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement. Four agreements thus far have been signed by the two sides;[60]

  • The EU-Japan Mutual Recognition Agreement (entered force on 1 January 2002)
  • An Agreement on Co-operation on Anti-competitive Activities (adopted 16 June 2003)
  • A Science and Technology Agreement between the EU and Japan (signed 30 November 2009)
  • The Agreement on Co-operation and Mutual Administrative Assistance (entered force on 1 February 2008)

Japan is the EU's 6th largest export market (3.2% in 2010 with a value of €44 billion). EU exports are primarily in machinery and transport equipment (31.3%), chemical products (14.1%) and agricultural products (11.0%). Despite a global growth in EU exports, since 2006 EU exports to Japan have been declining slightly. In 2009, due to the global financial crisis, exports saw a 14.7% drop; however in 2010 they recovered again by 21.3%. Japan is also the 6th largest source of imports to the EU (4.3% in 2010 with a value of €65 billion). Japanese exports to Europe are primarily machinery and transport equipment (66.7%). The EU is Japan's 3rd largest trading partner (11.1% of imports, 13.3% exports). Trade in commercial services were €17.2 billion from the EU to Japan and €12.7 billion from Japan to the EU.[60]

The trade relationship between the two has been characterised by strong trade surpluses for Japan, though that has moderated in the 2000s. Doing business and investing in Japan can be difficult for European countries and there have been some trade disputes between the two parties. However the slowdown in the Japanese economy encouraged it to open up more to EU business and investment.[60] While working on reducing trade barriers, the main focus is on opening up investment flows.[59]


The relations started with the 1980 European Commission–ASEAN Agreement and were developed since the formation of European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957.[61][62]

In 2011, Malaysia is the European Union second largest trading partner in Southeast Asia after Singapore and the 23rd largest trading partner for the European Union in the world,[62][63] while the European Union is Malaysia's 4th largest trading partner.[64]

 New Caledonia
 New Zealand

New Zealand and the European Union (EU) have strong historical and cultural ties. The two have solid relations and often see eye-to-eye on international issues. The EU-New Zealand relations are founded on a Joint Declaration on Relations and Cooperation, first agreed in 2007. It covers not just economic relations, but broader political issues and cooperation.[65]

The EU is New Zealand's second largest trading partner, after Australia, and New Zealand is the EU's 49th. New Zealand's exports is dominated by agricultural goods. The stock of EU foreign direct investment in New Zealand is €9.8bn and the stock of New Zealand's investment in the EU is €4.5bn.[66]

 Norfolk Island
 North Korea
 Pakistan The EU accounts for 20% of Pakistani external trade with Pakistani exports to the EU amounting to €3.4 billion, mainly textiles and leather products) and EU exports to Pakistan amounting to €3.8 billion (mainly mechanical and electrical equipment, and chemical and pharmaceutical products.[67]
 Philippines The European Union and the Philippines shares diplomatic, economic, cultural and political relations. The European Union has provided €3 million to the Philippines to fight poverty and €6 million for counter-terrorism against terrorist groups in the Southern Philippines. The European Union is also the third largest trading partner of the Philippines with the Philippines and The European Union importing and exporting products to each other. There are at least (estimated) 31,961 Europeans (not including Spaniards) living in the Philippines.
 Singapore 2014
 Solomon Islands
 South Korea

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the European Union (EU) are important trade partners: Korea is the EU's 9th largest trading partner and the EU is Korea's second largest export market. The two have signed a free trade agreement which will be provisionally applied by the end of 2011.[68]

The first EU - South Korea agreement was Agreement on Co-operation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters (signed on 13 May 1997).[69] This agreement allows the sharing of competition policy between the two parties.[70] The second agreement, the Framework Agreement on Trade and Co-operation (enacted on 1 April 2001). The framework attempts to increase co-operation on several industries, including transport, energy, science and technology, industry, environment and culture.[70][71]

In 2010, the EU and Korea signed a new framework agreement and a free trade agreement (FTA) which is the EU's first FTA with an Asian country and removes virtually all tariffs and many non-tariff barriers. On the basis of this, the EU and Korea decided in October 2010 to upgrade their relationship to a Strategic Partnership. These agreements will be provisionally in force by the end of 2011.[68]

EU-Korea summits have taken place in 2002 (Copenhagen), 2004 (Hanoi) and 2006 (Helsinki) on the sidelines of ASEM meetings. In 2009, the first stand alone bilateral meeting was held in Seoul. The European Parliament delegation for relations with Korea visits the country twice a year for discussions with their Korean counterparts. Meetings at foreign minister level take place at least once a year on the sidelines of ASEAN regional form meetings, however meetings between the Korean foreign minister and the EU High Representative have occurred more frequently, for example at G20 meetings. At hoc meetings between officials occur nearly monthly.[72]

Further Information: Foreign relations of South Korea#Europe.[73]

 Sri Lanka 2018
 Taiwan Informal relations
 Thailand 2018
 Vietnam 1996

Europe and Central Asia

The European Union regularly holds High-level Political and Security Dialogues (HLDs) with the countries of Central Asia which include Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, with Afghanistan often invited as a guest.[74] The HLDs with these states have a focus on security, and provide a formal platform to exchange views and ideas, advance collaboration and support EU involvement in the Central Asian region.[74]

An update to the 10-year-old EU-Central Asia strategy is expected to be developed by the end of 2019.[75] The new EU Central Asia Strategy was introduced at the EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, on 7 July 2019. Federica Mogherini also presented a set of EU funded regional programmes totaling €72 million. The new programmes cover the following sectors: sustainable energy, economic empowerment, education, and inclusive sustainable growth.[76]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU allocated more than €134 million to Central Asia as part of its “Team Europe” solidarity package. The funds were granted to strengthen the health, water and sanitation systems and address the socio-economic repercussions of the crisis.[77]

The first-ever “EU-Central Asia Economic Forum” is set to take place in 2021. The Forum will focus on innovative and sustainable approach to economic and business development, as well as green economy.[77]

EU Programmes in Central Asia

Border Management Programme in Central Asia

The EU launched in 2002 the BOMCA to mitigate the impacts of human trafficking, trafficking of drugs, organised crime and terrorism on EU interests and regional partners.[78]

Central Asia Drug Action Programme

The CADAP works to bolster drug policies of Central Asian states by providing assistance policy makers, industry experts, law enforcement, educators and medical staff, victims of drug abuse, the media and the general public.[79]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Aland Islands
 Albania Albania is an EU candidate since June 2014, and has applied for membership since 2009. Majority of Albanian policy especially foreign is in line with EU, relations have been very strong and warm.
 Andorra Andorra co-operates with the EU, and uses the euro but is not seeking membership.
 Armenia 1991

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) (signed in 1996 and in force since 1999) served as the legal framework for EU-Armenia bilateral relations. Since 2004, Armenia and the other South Caucasus states have been part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, encouraging closer ties with the EU. Armenia and the EU were set to sign a Free trade and Association Agreement in September 2013, however the agreement was called off by Armenia, prior to Armenia joining the Eurasian Union in 2014. Though, a revised Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was later finalized between Armenia and the EU in November 2017.[80] Armenia also participates in the Eastern Partnership Program and the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly; which aims at forging closer political and economic integration with the EU. In April 2018, Armenia began implementing actions for launching visa liberalization dialogue for Armenian citizens travelling into the Schengen area.[81]

 Azerbaijan 1991
 Belarus 1991 Belarus has strained relations with the EU as it is the only dictatorship left on the EU's borders.
 Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina is a potential EU candidate that has completed an association agreement. It is one of the few countries in the western Balkans which has not yet made a formal application, however it is experiencing problems integrating its component states. It is still under partial control of the international community via the EU-appointed High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 Faroe Islands
 Georgia 1991
 Iceland Iceland is part of the EU market via the European Economic Area and the Schengen Area. Although previously opposed to the idea of membership, it made an application in 2009 due to its economic collapse. From 2010 to 2013 Iceland was working on its accession, when it froze the process.
 Kazakhstan 1991 The European Union has the Enhanced Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan, its first with a Central Asian country. The EU is also the largest foreign investor in Kazakhstan, representing over 50% of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Kazakhstan.[82] The EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council is a ministerial-level meeting.[83]
 Liechtenstein Liechtenstein is part of the EU market via the European Economic Area and the Schengen Area.
 Moldova 1991
 Monaco Monaco co-operates with the EU in aspects such as the Schengen Area and uses the euro.
 Montenegro 2006 Montenegro applied to join the EU shortly after achieving independence.
 North Macedonia
 Norway Norway is part of the EU market via the European Economic Area and the Schengen Area.
 San Marino San Marino co-operates with the EU in aspects such as the Schengen Area and uses the euro.
 Serbia Serbia is an official candidate for the EU, and has applied for EU membership on 22 December 2009. Accession negotiations started on 21 January 2014.
 Sovereign Military Order of Malta Ambassador level relations.[84]
  Switzerland Switzerland does not participate in the EEA, but does co-operate through bilateral treaties similar to the EEA and is part of the Schengen Area.
 Turkey Turkey has had a slow application process dating back to the 1980s. Although there is considerable co-operation, there is widespread opposition to Turkish membership.
 Ukraine 1991
 United Kingdom 2018
 Uzbekistan 1992
  Vatican City (Holy See) The Vatican, as a unique state, does not participate in most EU projects but does use the euro.

Partly recognised states

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Kosovo Limited recognition from 2008 Kosovo is not recognised by all EU members and therefore cannot have official contractual relations with EU[citation needed]. Yet it still maintains relations with the EU and has been recognised by the EU as a country with a European perspective.
 Northern Cyprus None Northern Cyprus is not recognised by the EU and is a serious dispute for Cyprus and Turkish membership. The EU is committed to Cypriot reunification.

ACP countries

Further information: African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States

The EU, related countries (EFTA countries + potential and recognized candidates), ENP countries, and ACP countries.
The EU, related countries (EFTA countries + potential and recognized candidates), ENP countries, and ACP countries.

The European Union's member-states retain close links with many of their former colonies and since the Treaty of Rome there has been a relationship between the Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in the form of ACP-EU Development Cooperation including a joint parliamentary assembly.

The EU is also a leading provider of humanitarian aid, with over 20% of aid received in the ACP coming from the EU budget or from the European Development Fund (EDF).[85]

In April 2007 the Commission offered ACP countries greater access to the EU market; tariff-free rice exports with duty- and quota-free sugar exports.[86] However this offer is being fought by France who, along with other countries, wish to dilute the offer.[87]

There are questions as to whether the special relationship between the ACP group and the European Union will be maintained after the coming to the end of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement Treaty in 2020. The ACP has begun looking into the future of the group and its relationship to the European Union. Independent think tanks such as the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) have also presented various scenarios for the future of the ACP group in itself and in relation to the European Union.[88]

The European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) aims at bringing Europe and its neighbours closer.

International organizations

Further information: European Union and the United Nations, European Union and the International Criminal Court, European Union and the G7, and Relationship between the European Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights

EU regional initivatives; current enlargement agenda (SAP and candidate countries), ENP; Eastern Partnership, Euromediterranean Partnership and EU-Russia Common Spaces.

The Union as a whole is increasingly representing its members in international organisations. Aside from EU-centric organisations (mentioned above) the EU, or the Community, is represented in a number of organisations:

The EU is also one of part of the Quartet on the Middle East, represented by the High Representative.[92] At the UN, some officials see the EU moving towards a single seat on the UN Security Council.[93]

The European Union is expected to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights (the convention). In 2005, the leaders of the Council of Europe reiterated their desire for the EU to accede without delay to ensure consistent human rights protection across Europe. There are also concerns about consistency in case law - the European Court of Justice (the EU's supreme court) is already treating the convention as though it was part of the EU's legal system to prevent conflict between its judgements and those of the European Court of Human Rights (the court interpreting the convention). Protocol No.14 of the convention is designed to allow the EU to accede to it and the Treaty of Lisbon contains a protocol binding the EU to joining. The EU would not be subordinate to the council, but would be subject to its human rights law and external monitoring as its member states are currently. It is further proposed that the EU join as a member of the Council once it has attained its legal personality in the Treaty of Lisbon.[94][95]

Where the EU itself isn't represented, or when it is only an observer, the EU treaties places certain duties on member states;

1. Member States shall coordinate their action in international organisations and at international conferences. They shall uphold the Union's positions in such forums. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall organise this coordination.

In international organisations and at international conferences where not all the Member States participate, those which do take part shall uphold the Union's positions.

2. In accordance with Article 24(3), Member States represented in international organisations or international conferences where not all the Member States participate shall keep the other Member States and the High Representative informed of any matter of common interest.

Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council will concert and keep the other Member States and the High Representative fully informed. Member States which are members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.

When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the High Representative be invited to present the Union's position.

Foreign relations of member states

Further reading

See also


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