The OSCE brings together 56 countries, with members ‘from Vancouver to Vladivostok’. Since it was established with the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975, it has provided a forum for countries to maintain a political dialogue and to seek solutions together.
All EU member states are also members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The significant overlap between the agendas of the two bodies allows them to collaborate on a range of issues, including conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.
As the OSCE’s operational activities and capabilities have grown, so has the need to ensure synergy with the EU and avoid duplication.
EU countries account for over two thirds of the OSCE budget and the EU also provides considerable support – both financial and in kind. Some OSCE programmes are funded and run jointly. For example, the EU assists the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in monitoring elections and building up national electoral and human rights institutions in new democracies.
Within the OSCE, the European External Action Service (EEAS) represents the EU on issues related to the economic and environmental dimension. It thus has a major role in preparing EU positions for the annual OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum.