The European Union has a number of relationships with nations that are not formally part of the Union. According to the European Union's official site, and a statement by Commissioner Günter Verheugen, the aim is to have a ring of countries, sharing EU's democratic ideals and joining them in further integration without necessarily becoming full member states.
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was created to allow European countries to partake in free trade with the European Communities (later European Union), without becoming full members. Most of the countries initially in EFTA have since joined the EU itself, so only four remain outside, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
The European Economic Area (EEA) agreement allows Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to have access to the EU single market. The four basic freedoms (goods, services, people and capital) apply. However, some restrictions on fisheries and agriculture take place.
Norway is a member of the EEA, therefore it participates in the single market, and most EU laws are made part of Norwegian law. Norway has signed the Schengen treaty, which means border checks are no longer made.
Liechtenstein joined the EEA in 1995 and participates in the EU single market.
Switzerland referendum to join the EEA in 1992 failed, so Swiss products do not participate in the European single market. However the country recently negotiated two series of bilateral agreements with the Union. The first series, Bilateral Agreements I, consists of seven bilateral agreements and was signed in 1999 (entry into force in 2001), the main part being Free Movement of Persons (full text of the agreement). The second series, Bilateral Agreements II, relates to nine areas and was signed in 2004 (entered into full force on 30 March 2005) and includes the Schengen treaty and the Dublin Convention (full text of the agreement) (official press release). Joining the European Union is the objective of the Swiss government.
There are countries which, though not official members of the Eurozone, still use the Euro as legal or de facto currency, through official agreements with the EU. These are European microstates which are largely economically dependent on their larger Eurozone-member neighbours.
Some other countries unilaterally decided to use the Euro without having currently a formal agreement with the EU.
Certain countries are in customs union with the EU. These are:
Covers Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Russia (through the formation of EU-Russia Common Spaces).
According to the European Union's official site, the objective of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is to share the benefits of the EU’s 2004 enlargement with neighbouring countries. It is also designed to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours. The vision is that of a ring of countries, drawn into further integration, but without necessarily becoming full members of the European Union. The policy was first outlined by the European Commission on March 2003. The countries covered include all of the Mediterranean shores of Africa and Asia, as well as the European CIS states (with the exception of Russia and Kazakhstan) in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. Russia insisted on the creation of the four EU-Russia Common Spaces instead of ENP participation. The Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry has expressed interest in the ENP . Some MEPs also discussed Kazakhstan's inclusion in the ENP .
The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership or Barcelona Process is a wide framework of political, economic and social relations between member states of the EU and countries of the Southern Mediterranean. It was initiated on 27–28 November 1995 through a conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Barcelona. Besides the 27 member states of the European Union, the remaining "Mediterranean Partners" are all other Mediterranean countries without Libya (which has had 'observer status' since 1999). Since the establishment of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument in 2007 (see below) the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership initiative will become fully a part of the wider European Neighbourhood Policy. The Association Agreements signed with the Mediterranean states aim at establishing of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area.
CARDS, short for "Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation", was established on 5 December 2000 through Council regulation Number 2666/2000.
Its scope is the Western Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and the Republic of Macedonia). The programme's wider objective is to support those nations in the Stabilisation and Association Process.
The TACIS programme, established in 1991, is a programme of technical assistance that supports the process of transition to market economies for the 12 CIS countries. Until 2003, Mongolia was also included in the programme but is now covered by the ALA programme.
The MEDA programme is the principal financial instrument for the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, offering technical and financial support measures to accompany the reform of economic and social structures in the Mediterranean partner countries.
The first MEDA programme was established for the period of 1995-1999. On November 2000, a new regulation established MEDA II for the period of 2000-2006.
ACP stands for "Africa, Caribbean and Pacific". The programme applies to 71 countries, among which are all African nations with the exception of the Mediterranean countries of Northern Africa (covered by the MEDA programme above). The ACP is currently covered by the Cotonou Agreement, which replaces the Lomé Convention.
External links: ACP Countries at official EU site
ALA, standing for "Asia and Latin America" is a programme for financial aid and cooperation with those regions.
Below is a table and three graphs showing, respectively, the GDP (PPP), the GDP (PPP) per capita and the GDP (nominal) per capita for some of the third countries that the European Union has relations with. Candidate countries and potential official candidate countries are not included (for them see here). This can be used as a rough gauge to the relative standards of living among member states. The data set is for the year 2006 and graphs are for the year 2004. All 2006 data are projections.
The table is sorted by GDP (PPP) per capita to show the relative economic development level of the different countries. Reference values for the EU average, highest and lowest are included.
|Third country||GDP (PPP)
|European Economic Area:|
|Luxembourg (EU highest)||33,436||72,945||76,224|
|European Union (EU average)||12,954,042||28,477||29,763|
|Romania (EU lowest)||257,000||11,500||no data|
|European Free Trade Association:|
| Vatican City
unique noncommercial economy
|San Marino||940||34,600||no data|
|Current Enlargement Agenda:|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||28,550||6,300||no data|
|Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244)||5,300||2,500||no data|
|European Neighbourhood Policy:|
|Palestinian Authority||2,568||660||no data|