Foreign relations of the European Union 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
Leaders of the world's major economies on the G7 Summit 2019, Biarritz
Policy and actors
Map of European Union diplomatic missions: European Union member states
European Union delegation, full Lisbon duties
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
The Delegation of the European Union to Australia in Canberra
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.
Additionally to the third-state delegations and offices the European Commission maintains representation in each of the member states
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
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.
No EU member state
has embassy in the countries of Antigua and Barbuda
(EU delegation), Belize
(EU office), Bhutan
(Denmark Liaison office), Dominica
(EU office), Grenada
(EU delegation), Kiribati
(EU delegation), Liechtenstein
, Marshall Islands
, Saint Kitts and Nevis
, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
(EU office), Somalia
, Solomon Islands
(EU office), Tonga
, 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
(Ireland, EU delegation), San Marino
(Italy), São Tomé and Príncipe
(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
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.
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.
An update to the 10-year-old EU-Central Asia strategy is expected to be developed by the end of 2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Partly recognised states
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
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.
However this offer is being fought by France who, along with other countries, wish to dilute the offer.
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.
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 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.
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
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Last edited on 21 May 2021, at 06:28
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