Foreign relations of European Union: Wikis


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This article deals with relations between the European Union and third countries. For the overall tasks and 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. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy personifies this role.


Policy and actors

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 Catherine Ashton. A limited amount of defence co-operation takes place within the Common Security and Defence Policy.

Diplomatic representation



Map of European Union diplomatic missions:      European Union member states      European Union delegation, full Lisbon duties assumed      European Commission delegation duties only      Accreditation from non-resident delegation      European Union non-diplomatic mission only      non-diplomaticaly 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.[1]

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 Maastrict 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".[1]

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the Commission delegations became EU delegations, or embassies. This in practice meant that they took on the role previously exercised by the embassy of the country holding the rotating EU presidency; co-ordinating national embassies and speaking for the EU as a whole, not just the Commission. This power was faded in across the embassies slowly.[2]

Prior to the Lisbon Treaty, management of the EU External Relations in the fields of trade and development was conducted by the European Commission's Directorate-General for External Relations while the Council dealt with heavier EU foreign policy issues. These have however now been merged under the European External Action Service.

As part of the process of establishment of the EEAS envisioned in the Lisbon Treaty, on 1 January 2010 all former European Commission delegations were renamed into 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.[2]


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 is shares its premises with a number of member states.[3] Additionally to the third-state delegations and offices the European Commission maintains representation in each of the member states.[4]

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.[5]

Member state missions

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.[4] 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.

No EU member state has embassy in the countries of Bahamas, Bhutan (Denmark Liaison office), Dominica, Grenada, Kiribati, Liberia (EU delegation), Liechtenstein, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa (EU office), Somalia, Swaziland (EU office), Tonga, Tuvalu, the sovereign entity Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the partially recognised countries Sahrawi Republic and 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: Antigua and Barbuda (UK), Barbados (UK, EU delegation), Belize (UK, EU office), Central African Republic (France, EU delegation), Comoros (France), Djibouti (France, EU delegation), Gambia (UK, EU office), Guyana (UK, EU delegation), Lesotho (Ireland, EU delegation), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (UK), San Marino (Italy), São Tomé and Príncipe (Portugal), Solomon Islands (UK), 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).


Relations with other European states (broad definition used here, see list of European countries) are largely centred on the prospect of Enlargement, or integration short of it such as the European Economic Area.

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
Is an applicant to join the EU.
Andorra co-operates with the EU, and uses the euro but is not seeking membership.
 Armenia 1991
 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.
Croatia is a long standing EU candidate and is expected to be the next country to join (along side Iceland if it completes its negotiations).
 Faroe Islands
 Georgia 1991
Iceland is part of the EU market via the European Economic Area and the Schengen Area. Although previously opposed to the idea of membership, has recently lodged an application due to its economic collapse.
 Kazakhstan 1991
Andorra is part of the EU market via the European Economic Area and the Schengen Area.
 Moldova 1991
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.
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 is a potential applicant to join the EU, but has not yet submitted its application.
Switzerland does not participate in the EEA like other major western European countries, but does co-operate through bilateral treaties and is part of the Schengen Area.
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
 Vatican City
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, but it is attempting to apply for membership.
 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.

North Africa and the Middle East

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".

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
Relations have been strained from the early 1990s but are now gradually progressing. Should Turkey's accession to the EU take place, Iraq will border the European Union. The EU was divided over the Iraq War in 2003 with some states sending troops and others opposing the invasion. Now however the EU is helping Iraq to recover and the EU is now a major trading partner of Iraq.
 Iran None

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.[6] However this offer is being fought by France who, along with other countries, wish to dilute the offer.[7]

South and East Asia

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.[8]

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.[9][10]

EU-China have experienced a cool down after China canceled the EU-China yearly summit in November 2008. This was apparently caused due to French President Sarkozy's plans to meet with the Dalai Lama.[11]


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.[12]

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%.[13]

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 they were judging it on competition grounds only.


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.[14]

Since the start of its cooperation with Pakistan in 1976, the Commission has committed more than €500 million to projects and programmes. 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. 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.

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. EU and Pakistani relations are elevated to new strategic level with the EU-Pakistani Summit that has taken in 2009 .[15]


There are annual meetings between the EU and the ASEAN Plus Three however relations have been strained with 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.[16] As of April 2007 the Commission is pursuing a free trade agreement with ASEAN.[12]


Latin America

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.[17][18] Chile and Mexico have an Association Agreement with the EU.

A 2.6-billion euro financial package for Latin America was also put forward[17] with 840-million euro for Central America.[19] 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. The EU lifted sanctions on Cuba in 2008.[20]

United States of America

President Barroso meeting President Bush at the White House in 2003.

The United States is sometimes seen as Europe's strategic partner, historically associated with Europe because of World War Two, the United States' post-war rebuilding and restablization of Western Europe with the Marshall Plan, and the rise of a common United States-Western European defense strategy against the Soviet Union via NATO during the Cold War, an organization that still exists today and led both the U.S. and the E.U. in a common purpose in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Since then, however, a number of rather acrimonious rifts have emerged, rifts particularly visible during the administration of George W. Bush.

As the European Union is built on a basis of European supranational cooperation and the pooling of European sovereignty for mutual benefit[citation needed], its proponents allege that it seeks a similar approach in its relations to the rest of the world[citation needed]. It supports the United Nations and International Criminal Court as well as agreements such as the Kyoto protocol and other human rights agreements, as does the United States, which created the United Nations, and was one of the founders of the ICC and all other human rights legislation. Due to the acrimony created by the administration of President George W. Bush, however, many Europeans now see the United States as taking a more unilateralist approach with a greater willingness to use military power.[citation needed]

The Iraq War and the War on Terror are heavily criticised in Europe. However there's 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.[21] Merkel hopes for it to be established by 2015.[22] 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[citation needed], 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[citation needed].

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);[23] 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.[24] The EU is also one of part of the Quartet on the Middle East, represented by the High Representative.[25] At the UN, some officials see the EU moving towards a single seat on the UN Security Council.[26]

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.[27][28]

See also

Foreign relations of member states


  1. ^ a b Taking Europe to the world: 50 years of the European Commission's External Service
  2. ^ a b EU commission 'embassies' granted new powers
  3. ^ Unified External Service of the European Commission
  4. ^ a b Representations of the European Commission
  5. ^ Council delegations
  6. ^ ACP countries offered full free access to EU market
  7. ^ French fight EU trade offer to poor countries
  8. ^ With big order, China gives Airbus a boost
  9. ^ Bilateral trade relations with China
  10. ^ EU replaces U.S. as biggest trading partner of China(09/15/06)
  11. ^ / France - Business fears over Chinese-French rift
  12. ^ a b EU sees talks with ASEAN, India, SKorea on free-trade pacts in months
  13. ^ Bilateral trade relations with India
  14. ^ European Commission : Trade : Pakistan (Bilateral relations)
  15. ^ DAWN.COM | World | EU, Pakistan to kick-start strategic talks
  16. ^ Burma will not take Asean chair BBC News
  17. ^ a b EU And Latin America Seek New Ways Of Cooperation
  18. ^ CAN, EU to start trade talks in first quarter of 2007
  19. ^ EU to announce $1.14 bln aid program for Central America
  20. ^ BBC NEWS | Americas | 'No progress' at EU-Cuba meeting
  21. ^ US and EU foresee 'single market' BBC News
  22. ^ EU and US agree pact on transatlantic market
  23. ^ "EU and the G8". European Commission. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  24. ^ European Union CIA World Factbook
  25. ^ The EU & the Middle East Peace Process
  26. ^ EU heading for single UN seat, UN official says
  27. ^ Junker, Jean-Claude (2006). "Council of Europe - European Union: "A sole ambition for the European continent"" (PDF). Council of Europe. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  28. ^ "Draft treaty modifying the treaty on the European Union and the treaty establishing the European community" (PDF). Open Europe. 2007-07-24. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 

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