Does the EU have a foreign policy

The European Union

The European Union has a population of almost 500 million people, that is just 7.3 percent of the world population. Nevertheless, due to its economic strength, the EU is an important international player.

Click on the graphic to open the PDF. (Federal Agency for Civic Education, www.bpb.de) License: cc by-nc-nd / 3.0 / de /

Over the past 20 years, the EU has greatly expanded its international contacts. The EU's activities are aimed at creating and securing peace, promoting the economic development of the countries of the so-called Third World, protecting the environment and the climate, securing one's own energy needs and intensifying economic exchange with other countries. The Union pays particular attention to its immediate neighborhood. Through the eastward expansion in 2004 and 2007, the EU succeeded in effectively supporting the democratization and transformation processes in the then partner and current member states. The EU is pursuing a similar policy towards the Balkan states, which have been promised accession, provided they meet the accession conditions. The same promise has been made to Turkey, with which (as with Croatia) membership has been negotiated since 2005. However, Turkey's wish to join the EU is not unanimously supported.

In addition to the enlargement strategy, the European Union has developed the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) since 2003, which is aimed at a total of 16 neighboring states in the east and south. In the meantime, the approaches towards the south (Union for the Mediterranean) and towards the east (Eastern Partnership) have differentiated. The aim of the neighborhood policy is to bind the partner states to the EU as closely as possible, albeit below the membership threshold.

Russia is not included in the neighborhood policy, but maintains a so-called strategic partnership with the EU, which should result in four common areas (economy, internal security, external security, education / science / culture). In 2007, under the German Presidency, the EU also adopted a policy approach for the Black Sea. The Black Sea Synergy is intended to summarize the three strategies (ENP, strategic partnership with Russia, accession strategy with Turkey) and is aimed at the states of the Black Sea region. In addition to the six neighboring countries (including the EU members Romania and Bulgaria), these include the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the EU member Greece.

Also in 2007, the EU adopted a Central Asia Strategy aimed at improving relations with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The EU is linked to the East Asian countries in the ASEM, a European-Asian discussion forum to which the EU countries and 16 Asian countries, including China, Japan and Indonesia, belong. The EU maintains similar relations with the countries of Central and South America, whose heads of state and government meet regularly with EU leaders at EU-Latin America summits.

The European Union and its member states are the largest donors of development aid in the world. The EU feels committed to the United Nations Millennium Goals, which serve to reduce poverty and disease in the Third World, and, on the basis of the Cotonou Agreement, pursues an active development policy that, in addition to the economic development of the partner countries, also their democratic structure wants to promote. In addition, the EU maintains bilateral relations with most countries in the world.