EU Relations with South Africa

The EU and SA have been Strategic Partners since 2007 and adopted an Action Plan (AP) for its implementation the same year. The AP has two strands: enhanced political dialogue and cooperation on regional, African and international issues as well as stronger cooperation in a number of economic, social and other areas. Since then, the EU and South Africa have held annual Summits. The last EU-South Africa Ministerial Dialogue Meeting took place on 26 February 2016 in Pretoria pdf - 120 KB [120 KB] .

The EU – SA Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement of 1999 (TDCA) which entered into force in 2000, constitutes the legal basis for overall relations between South Africa and the EU. The TDCA covers political dialogue, the establishment of a free trade area over an asymmetrical twelve-year period, development and economic co-operation as well as sectoral cooperation. Its trade component will be strengthened by the regional EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) when it enters into force.

Eighteen sectoral dialogues take place under the umbrella of the Strategic Partnership. Dialogues on trade, macroeconomic, research and innovation, education are well developed. Sectors like energy, telecoms, transport and agriculture where the EU and the private sector have expertise could be further developed. The EU and South Africa need each other on global (climate/energy, security, human rights) and regional issues while we share common challenges such as migration and youth unemployment.

Development aid

SA is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement but has a special status. It does not have access to the Cotonou financial instruments (EDF) and benefits from the trade arrangements of the TDCA.

In the past, EU aid – paid through its Development Cooperation Instrument – has provided roughly 70% of all development funding given to South Africa. This has averaged €125m a year since 1995 – amounting to 1.3% of its budget or 0.3% of GDP. Previous programmes have focused on health, primary education and job creation.

For 2014-2020, SA remains exceptionally eligible for DCI with reduced envelope (from €980m in 2007-13 to €241 M under the Multiannual Indicative Programme for 2014-20 ). The key sectors of cooperation are 1) employment creation; 2) education, training and innovation; 3) building a capable and developmental state. These key sectors reflect the key priorities as laid down in South Africa's National Development Plan – 2030 pdf - 6 MB [6 MB] .


The EU remains South Africa's first trading, investment and development partner. The EU accounts for 77% of SA's total FDI stock. Over 2000 EU companies operate within South Africa creating over three hundred and fifty thousand jobs Trade with the EU represents some 26% of total trade. The EU SA trade fosters growth and jobs because of its clear links to manufacturing in SA and labour intensive exports).