Foreign relations of the European Union

Foreign relations of the European Union

:"This article deals with relations between the European Union and third countries. For the workings of foreign policy, see Common Foreign and Security Policy."

Although there has been a large degree of integration between European Union member states, foreign relations is still a largely inter-governmental matter, with the 27 members controlling their own relations to a large degree. However with the Union holding more weight as a single bloc, there are at times attempts to speak with one voice, notably on trade and energy matters.

European relations

Relations with other European States are largely centred on the prospect of Enlargement, or integration short of it. "See also: Third country relationships with the European Union".

Western Europe

Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are part of the European Economic Area, inside the European Union's single market. Switzerland is outside the EEA but is connected by bilateral agreements and the European Free Trade Association. The other States are micro-states, Andorra, San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican City, they all use the Euro as their currency and with the exception of the latter two have a customs union with the EU and Andorra is the only State to maintain border-controls with it. None of these countries however have any political integration with the Union. "Relations with: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Microstates."

Western Balkans and Turkey

The western Balkans and Turkey are all candidates, or potential candidates, for Union membership. Relations with these states are governed by association agreements and their membership negotiations. These countries often participate in larger Union projects such as the Energy Community or Single European Sky. "See: Enlargement of the European Union"The Union has had a long standing commitment to the Western Balkans after the Community failed to develop a policy to intervene in the wars in the former Yugoslavia. That failure has spurred the development of the CFSP and expansion in the region to create stability there.

Eastern Europe

Although further eastern European countries are able to join, there is little chance in the near future due to the current agenda and the stalling of the European Constitution, therefore these States, along with Mediterranean countries, participate in the European Neighbourhood Policy (with the exception of Russia). Political leaders and politicians in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine favour eventual EU membership while others such as Belarus have often being scorned by Brussels due to poor democratic and human rights standards. "Relations with: Armenia, Azerbaijan Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine."


The countries around the Mediterranean have long been of interest in European foreign policy; a desire to create a "ring of friends" around the Union led to the creation of the European Neighbourhood Policy which covers the remainder of Eastern Europe and all other countries bordering the Mediterranean (including the Palestinian Authority and Jordan). There are attempts to develop the relationship with the Barcelona Process and a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed a "Mediterranean Union". "Relations with: Israel, Morocco".

Relations with other countries

People's Republic of China

European leaders, like others, have been courting the PRC since its economic rise, however due to its authoritarian nature and the Union's concern for Human Rights, relations between Brussels and Beijing are often double edged. Since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 the Union has imposed an arms embargo on the country, some leads are keen to replace this however with more general rules on arms sales.

There have been other disputes, such as the dispute over textile imports into the EU (Bra wars) with domestic European manufactures losing out to cheaper Chinese imported goods. The PRC and 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 [ [ With big order, China gives Airbus a boost]] .

There are plans to replace the current 1985 EC-China Trade and Co-operation Agreement with a more comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The Union is China's main largest trading partner, and China is the Union's second largest partner. [ [ Bilateral trade relations with China]] [ [ EU replaces U.S. as biggest trading partner of China(09/15/06)]]


:"See also: Indian - EU Foreign Relations"
India was one of the first countries to develop relations with the Union, signing bilateral agreements in 1973, when the United Kingdom joined. The most recent cooperation agreement was signed in 1994 and an action plan was signed in 2005. As of April 2007 the Commission is pursuing a free trade agreement with India. [ [ EU sees talks with ASEAN, India, SKorea on free-trade pacts in months]]

The Union is India's largest trading partner, accounting for 20% of Indian trade. However India accounts for only 1.8% of the EU's trade and attracts only 0.3% of European Foreign Direct Investment, although still provides India's largest source. During 2005 EU-India trade grew by 20.3%. [ [ Bilateral trade relations with India]]

There was controversy in 2006 when the Indian Mittal Steel Company sought to take-over the Luxembourg based steel company, Arcelor. The approach met with opposition from France and Luxembourg but was passed by the Commission who stated that were judging it on competition grounds only. (See: Arcelor-Mittal) [ [ Mandelson and India warn the French over Mittal]]


Russia is the Union's largest single neighbour and expressed a large degree of influence over eastern European and central Asian States. The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast has, since 2004, been surrounded on land by EU members. As a result the Oblast has been isolated from the rest of the federation due to stricter border controls.

Moscow chose not to participate in the European Neighbourhood Policy, and instead to cooperate with the Union through "Common Spaces" (see main article). Russia also cooperates in the Northern Dimension.

EU-Russia relations are highly influenced by the Union's dependence upon Russia as an energy supplier. Clashes with Russia over energy are common, with leaders expressing doubt in Russia's reliance after supplies were partially cut on two occasions by transit countries after a dispute with them (see Ukrainian and Belarusian gas disputes).

The Union has since sought to diversify supplies away from Russia. [ [ EU to beef up diplomatic corps in Central Asia]] In April 2007, Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson described trust between Russia and the Union as being at its lowest level since the end of the Cold War as a result of the energy disputes. [ [ EU-Russia relations 'at low ebb'] BBC News]

Russia has objected to plans to base US Anti-ballistic missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic seeing the move as hostility towards it. With some former Eastern bloc states joining NATO without signing the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Russia has suggested it suspend implementation until it is signed and ratified by all NATO countries [ [ Russia in defence warning to US] BBC News 26/04/07] . In addition, Moscow has suggested it may target its weapons towards European countries if US weapons are eventually based there. [ [ Russia threatens Europe over US missile plans] 04/06/07]

Following riots in Tallinn, the Estonian government moved a Soviet era war memorial (the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn) out of the city centre sparking indignation from Russia including "cyber-attacks" on Estonia. There followed a period of riots in Tallinn and around the Estonian embassy in Moscow [ [ Russia accused of 'attack on EU'] BBC News 02/05/07] .

Further problems include: a ban by Russia on Polish meat exports (due to allegations of low quality and unsafe meat exported from the country [ [ Почему Россия отказывается от польского мяса?] (Russian)] ), which caused Poland to veto proposed EU-Russia pacts issues such as energy and migration; an oil blockade on Lithuania; and concerns by Latvia and Poland on the Nord Stream pipeline [ [ EU and Russia tackle thorny issues at Samara summit] 19/05/07] .

There have been agreements on other matters such as withdrawal of taxes on EU flights overflying Siberia. Outside the EU, Russia is a member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe. As a member Russian citizens are able to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where 363 judgements concerning Russia were brought to the court between 2002 and 2006, with 352 of those going against Russia. It does however largely comply with the court. [ [ Moscow's Respect for Strasbourg] A Fistful of Euros (blog)]

United States of America

The United States is often seen as Europe's strategic partner, being ideologically and culturally similar as well as tied together through the NATO alliance. However recently, a number of rifts have emerged, particularly visible since the Iraq war.

As the European Union is built on a basis of international cooperation and the pooling of sovereignty for mutual benefit, it naturally seeks a similar approach in the rest of the world. It supports the United Nations and International Criminal Court as well as agreements such as the Kyoto protocol and human rights agreements. In contrast the United States has been taking a more unilateralist approach with a greater willingness to use military hard power above the European style soft power techniques. Fact|date=October 2007

The Iraq war and the War on terror are heavily criticised in Europe. However there still a relative amount of cooperation, in NATO and outside. For example, they have recently finalised an Open skies agreement. In April 2007 President-in-Council Angela Merkel agreed with the US an economic pact on a common market. [ [ US and EU foresee 'single market'] BBC News] Merkel hopes for it to be established by 2015. [ [ EU and US agree pact on transatlantic market]] "See also: EU-US Issues of contention".

However there is difference between member-states in relations towards the United States, a number of governments supported the Iraq war for example. These states tend to be the more eurosceptic governments, namely the United Kingdom, Poland and the Czech Republic, the latter two have agreed to host elements of the United States' ballistic missile defence shield against public opinion on the matter, as was the case with the Iraq war. The Union as a whole is against the shield on the grounds that it would do little against real threats and would just antagonise countries such as Russia into another Cold War-style arms race.


:"See also: Pakistani - EU Foreign Relations"Since the start of its cooperation with Pakistan in 1976, the Commission has committed more than €500 million to projects and programmes. During the 1980s the Commission launched a mix of infrastructure and social development projects which focused on development of roads, bridges, a fishing harbour facility, rural electricity infrastructure, livestock, education, vocational training and integrated rural development. In the 1990s the Commission streamlined and consolidated its portfolio and reoriented its activities towards policy-based social sector investment programmes, placing greater emphasis on human development and environmental management in line with shifts in government policy. In addition, the Commission provided support to smaller-scale operations with NGOs in areas such as population welfare, child labour, income generation, drug demand reduction and rural health. Under the previous CSP, the EC cooperation in Pakistan focused on human development, in particular basic education programmes at provincial level.

Since 2001, EU policy is to stay constructively and strongly engaged with Pakistan and to make a significant and visible engagement, both in political and economic terms. Measures include resumption and upgrading of political dialogue, signature of a 3rd Generation Co-operation Agreement, as well as additional development assistance.

In December 2006, the Council of the EU called on Afghanistan and Pakistan to deepen relations and to cooperate closely to deal with insecurity in border areas, while urging Pakistan to build on current efforts to prevent the use of its territory by the Taliban.

In order to enhance Pakistan’s capacity on WTO related issues, a trade-related technical assistance programme was launched in 2004 with a view to streamlining procedures and processes for trade facilitation in compliance with EU norms and standards.

For the period 2002-2006 €75 million were originally allocated for development and economic cooperation. Additional EC support to Pakistan was provided following the events of 2001 in recognition of Pakistan’s role as a partner in the fight against terrorism, including € 50 million for financial service reforms and to support development of micro-finance SMEs.

The 8 October 2005 earthquake had a devastating effect on Northern Areas of Pakistan, in particular Azad Jammu and Kashmir and North West Frontier Province. In response to this calamity the Commission proposed an assistance package of € 93.6 million, consisting of both humanitarian aid (€ 43.6 million) and reconstruction support (€ 50 million) for commitment in 2005.

Substantial assistance was also provided under other thematic budget lines, including for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

Under its environment cooperation policy, over the last decade the EC contributed a total of € 32 million to rehabilitation, management and conservation of natural resources, safeguarding and conservation of biodiversity, education and capacity-building through sustainable resource management with the involvement of local communities. Major target areas included upland areas of Punjab and Afghania (NWFP), benefiting more than 2 million people.


The EU, in the form of the "EU three" (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) led by CFSP chief Javier Solana, have conducted negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear programme. The United States and European nations are concerned that Iran is developing nuclear weapons banned in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

The EU has led diplomatic talks to get guarantees there will be development of nuclear power only [ [ No nuclear deal at EU-Iran talks] BBC News] while the United States, backing negotiations for now, has maintained a threat of military force [ [ US 'Iran attack plans' revealed] BBC News] . These talks have not yet succeeded, with the issue going to the UN where sanctions were placed. In 2007 Solana sought to renew talks [ [ EU to seek new Iran nuclear talks] BBC News] and is due to meet Ali Larijani on 25 April 2007 to discuss resuming talks. [ [ EU and Iran to hold nuclear talks]] Meanwhile, EU leaders, in April 2007, have imposed sanctions on Iran that go beyond those laid out in UN Resolution 1737. [ [ EU ministers agree sanctions against Iran]]

Iran has also been been seeking to develop an oil bourse which would be the first to be denominated in euro. Although this has not featured in relations between the EU and Iran thus far, if it starts work it would have a considerable impact outside Iran.

outh East Asia

There are annual meetings between the EU and the ASEAN Plus Three however relations have been strained with ASEAN since Myanmar (Burma) 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. [ [ Burma will not take Asean chair] BBC News]

Democracy and human rights is a consistent dividing line between the two blocs, a delegation of MEPs were refused to allow to speak on democracy during a trip in 2007. [ [ Europe MPs 'gagged' by Singapore] BBC News] However there has been some co-operation: in 2003 the EU and ASEAN agreed to share intelligence on anti-terror matters. [ [ EU-Asean to boost anti-terror ties] BBC News] As of April 2007 the Commission is pursuing a free trade agreement with ASEAN. [ [ EU sees talks with ASEAN, India, SKorea on free-trade pacts in months]]

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.

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. [ [ ACP countries offered full free access to EU market]] However this offer is being fought by France who, along with other countries, wish to dilute the offer. [ [ French fight EU trade offer to poor countries]]

Latin America


thumb|right|400px|Diplomatic_relations_of_the_European_Union_[ [ European Commission] ] legend|#74a1ff|European Union embassies and delegations of the European Commission] 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. [ [ EU And Latin America Seek New Ways Of Cooperation]] [ [ CAN, EU to start trade talks in first quarter of 2007]] Chile and Mexico have an Association Agreement with the EU.

A 2.6-billion euro financial package for Latin America was also put forward [ [ EU And Latin America Seek New Ways Of Cooperation]] with 840-million euro for Central America. [ [ EU to announce $1.14 bln aid program for Central America]] 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.

Opposition to the current regime in Cuba led to tense relations during the Cocktail Wars, 2003-2006.

Other countries

The Union is also keen to improve relations with other oil producing countries in order to diversify away from Russia, attempting to court central Asian nations. [ [ EU to beef up diplomatic corps in Central Asia]] [ [ EU launches new Central Asia policy in Kazakhstan]] However there is concern about building relations with countries that have poor human rights records. [ [ EU ministers to shy away from praising Uzbekistan]]

International organisations

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 United Nations, as an observer; the Organization of American States as an observer, the G8, full rights except being able to chair and host a summit (see European Union and the G8) [cite web| url =| title = EU and the G8| accessdate = 2007-09-25| publisher = European Commission] ; the World Trade Organisation; the ASEAN Regional Forum, dialogue member; the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, dialogue member; the International Development Association; Pacific Islands Forum, as a partner; the Council of the Baltic Sea States; the Australia Group; the European Organization for Nuclear Research; the Food and Agriculture Organization, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the G10, observer; the Non-Aligned Movement, as an observer; Nuclear Suppliers Group, as an observer; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East; and the Zangger Committee, as an observer. [ [ European Union] CIA World Factbook] The EU is also one of part of the Quartet on the Middle East, represented by the High Representative. [ [ The EU & the Middle East Peace Process]] At the UN, some officials see the EU moving towards a single seat on the UN Security Council. [ [ EU heading for single UN seat, UN official says]]

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 the 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.cite web|last=Junker|first=Jean-Claude|authorlink=Jean-Claude Junker|title =Council of Europe - European Union: "A sole ambition for the European continent"|date=2006|publisher=Council of Europe|url=|format=PDF|accessdate = 2007-07-28 ] cite web|title =Draft treaty modifying the treaty on the European Union and the treaty establishing the European community|date=2007-07-24|publisher=Open Europe|url=|format=PDF|accessdate = 2007-07-28 ]

ee also

*Transatlantic relations
*Quartet on the Middle East
*European Commission diplomatic missions

Foreign relations of member states


External links

* [ External Relations Commissioner]
* [ External Relations]
* [ EU in the world]
* [ ENP]
* [ Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)]
* [ Activities]
* [ European Union @ United Nations]
* [ A guide]
* [ European Parliament Resolution on progress in implementing the common foreign and security policy]
* [ Institute of European and Russian Studies] Carleton University
* [
] wikipedia
* [ Euforic] information on Europe's international development cooperation
* [ Europe diary: Europe and the world] , Mark Mardell BBC News 29 March 2007
* [ Online Resource Guide to EU Foreign Policy]

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