EU Relations with South Africa

EU relations with South Africa

Since 1994, the EU has given high political importance to its bilateral relations with South Africa. The EU – SA Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement of 1999 (TDCA) created a comprehensive political and development partnership as well as a free trade area. The trade provisions of the TDCA will be replaced by the regional Economic Partnership Agreement EU-SADC (Southern Africa Development Community), for which negotiations were concluded in July 2014.

In 2007, the EU and SA entered into a Strategic Partnership which was cemented by a Joint Action Plan adopted during the Ministerial meeting in May 2007 in Brussels. With this the EU recognises the important role that SA plays in the southern African region, on the African continent and in international fora. Since then, South Africa’s and the EU’s mutual interests have been advanced through regular summits and ministerial as well as Joint Cooperation Council meetings.

EU-Africa summit (April 2014): South Africa was represented by the Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana Mashabane, who met the High Representative/Vice-President in the margins.

Formal links

* 2013 meeting postponed (until 2014) at the request of South Africa.

Development aid

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. Recent programmes have focused on health, primary education and job creation.

Following the EU's 2011 ' Agenda for Change' refocusing funding on the world's poorest countries, aid to South Africa will be reduced in 2014–20 to €241m (compared with €980m in 2007-13). 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] .


South Africa is the EU's largest trading partner in Africa and by far the strongest sub-Saharan African economy.