Environment and Climate Change in EU External Relations

Environment and Climate Change issues are increasingly acknowledged by the international and diplomatic communities in their own right but also due to the growing interdependencies with other policy fields such as trade, security, conflict prevention and migration.

Similar to other external policy fields, the EU is using its complimentary foreign policy instruments, including policy dialogue, international negotiations and financial instruments to advance the EU international Environment and Climate Change agenda.

The EU has played a key role as a proponent of international environmental action and co-operation. The EU is a party to the Rio Conventions of 1992 which were a major achievement for environmental protection. The EU is also a party to a number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements which usually include a commitment to help developing countries in implementation of these agreements.

In 2002 the EU adopted a specific Strategy on Environmental Integration in External Policies. The aim of the strategy was to specifically define how best to pursue EU international environmental policy in the day-to-day conduct of external relations. Since the adoption of the strategy the European Commission and the EU Member States have intensified their efforts in this area. One of the great successes of this work is the Green Diplomacy Network.


Climate change in particular has become a priority in EU relations with third countries. It is evident that a global concerted effort is needed in order to respond to the challenges that climate change presents. An effective diplomatic effort is therefore vital so as to ensure that the impacts of climate change, as well as the opportunities for preventing and responding to these impacts are sufficiently addressed at the highest political level throughout the world. In response to the need to further enhance Europe’s climate diplomacy and the opportunities arising in the post-Lisbon setting, the Foreign Affairs Council adopted a series of conclusions on 18 July 2011. The conclusions were prepared by a Joint Reflection Paper pdf - 123 KB [123 KB] elaborated between the EEAS and the services of the European Commission.