The EU and the 6 Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) enjoy a comprehensive relationship that encompasses political dialogue, cooperation and a favorable trade regime.
The San José Dialogue, which was launched in 1984, forms the cornerstone of the EU-Central American relations. Its objective was to seek solutions to the armed conflicts by means of negotiations. Since then, the EU has made a significant contribution to the peace, the democratization process and the socio-economic development of Central America. The EU has always supported regional integration in Central America, bearing in mind its particularities and multiple expressions. The two regions have concluded the 1993 EU-Central America Framework Cooperation Agreement and the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement [105 KB] signed in 2003.
In June 2007 negotiations were launched for an Association Agreement between the EU and Central America (CA). EU-Central America Association Agreement negotiations were concluded in 2010, during the EU-LAC Summit in Madrid. They included Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras (Panama joined the talks as full member at the end of the process).
The resulting far-reaching agreement, which includes all aspects of our relationship (political dialogue, cooperation, and a free-trade area), will further cement our ties. Indeed, this is the first region-to-region agreement to be concluded by the European Union. The Association Agreement will be instrumental in giving a boost to regional integration, consolidating democracy, and improving the security situation in Central America.
The Association Agreement was initialled in Brussels in March 2011. Since then, the Parties have been working to bring the text through the various steps of our respective legislative processes, with a view to ratification and entry into force on both sides.
The Agreement was signed in Honduras in June 2012 (see Press release), including therein a provisional application of the trade part, to enter into force immediately after the European Parliament consent, given on 11 December 2012. Central American countries, for their part, have no manner of provisionally applying the trade provisions. Once signed, they will go for its full ratification.
The Regional Strategy Paper 2007-2013 [491 KB] confirms the EU as a leading donor of official development aid to the Central American region.