The EU and the UN

EU committed to effective multilateralism

The EU is committed to effective multilateralism, with the United Nations (UN) at its core. This is a central element of the EU’s external policy. To respond successfully to global crises, threats and challenges, the international community needs an efficient multilateral system, founded on universal rules and values.

EU and UN maintain strong relationship

Over the years the EU has established a strong relationship with the UN. Co-operation takes place across a broad range of areas: development, human rights, climate change, peace building, disarmament and non-proliferation, humanitarian assistance, fighting corruption and crime, addressing global health concerns, managing migration flows and labour issues. Many of these issues are debated in Geneva within the UN bodies and Geneva-based specialised agencies such as the Human Rights Council, UNHCR, UNCTAD, WHO, ILO, the Conference on Disarmament and IOM. The EU Delegation and the EU Member States take an active part in their activities, coordinating positions within these bodies.

EU major contributor to the UN

The EU and its Member States play a crucial role as the major contributor to the UN system. The European Union is the single largest financial contributor to the UN system. The EU Member States fund 38% of the UN's regular budget, more than two-fifths of UN peacekeeping operations, and about one-half of all UN Member States' contributions to UN funds and programs. The European Commission contributes more than $1.35 billion in support of UN external assistance programmes and projects. The European Union, EU institutions and EU Member States combined, provide 56% of Global Aid to Development and is one of the world's largest donors of humanitarian assistance.

EU contributes to the development of international law

The EU has played an important role in developing and implementing UN Conventions and Protocols and taken an active part in UN global conferences. As an observer within the UN, the EU does not vote but is party to more than 50 UN multilateral agreements and conventions – the latest being the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities - and actively participates and contributes to the deliberations. It has obtained a special "full participant" status in a number of important UN conferences.

Lisbon Treaty enhances EU international role

The Lisbon Treaty gives the European Union a single legal personality. It also provides for the European Union to replace and succeed the European Community, taking over all its rights and obligations, including with regard to its status within the UN. As a result, the EU can sign contracts, be part of an international convention or be a member of an international organisation, such as the FAO in Rome.

With Resolution A/65/276, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 3 May 2011, the UN has granted the European Union new participating rights at the United Nations, allowing EU representatives to present EU agreed common positions, to make interventions, present proposals and circulate EU communications as official documents. In Geneva, depending on the internal rules of each international organisation, the EU common position is expressed either through a member of the EU Delegation or a representative of one of the EU Member States intervening on behalf of the European Union.

EU priorities at the UN

EU Priorities for the 68th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

The European Union medium-term priorities at the United Nations (2012-15) pdf - 37 KB [37 KB]