Association Agreements

Association Agreements are international agreements that the European Community / European Union has concluded with third countries with the aim of setting up an all-embracing framework to conduct bilateral relations. These agreements normally provide for the progressive liberalisation of trade (to various degrees: Free Trade Area, Customs Union…).

In certain cases, they prepare for future membership of the European Union. Although Association Agreements differ in their exact content and finality depending on the partner country, nevertheless, they meet the following criteria:

  • The legal basis for their conclusion is Article 217 TFEU (ex Article 310 TEC);
  • Intention to establish close economic and political cooperation (more than simple cooperation);
  • Creation of paritary bodies for the management of the cooperation, competent to take decisions that bind the contracting parties;
  • Offering Most Favoured Nation treatment;
  • Providing for a privileged relationship between the European Union and its partner;
  • Since 1995 the clause on the respect of human rights and democratic principles is systematically included and constitutes an essential element of the agreement;
  • In a large number of cases, the association agreement replaces a cooperation agreement thereby intensifying the relations between the partners.


The Treaties Office Database provides a complete inventory of international agreements concluded by the European Community/European Union and is updated daily.

European Union law documents are accessible via the EUR-lex website.