What we do

The EU maintains diplomatic relations with nearly all countries in the world. It has strategic partnerships with key international players, is deeply engaged with emerging powers around the globe, and has signed bilateral Association Agreements with a number of states in its vicinity. Abroad, the Union is represented by a network of 141 EU Delegations, which have a similar function to those of an embassy.

Below are 10 examples, which illustrate what the Union does around the world, in order to defend Europe’s interests and promote its values.

  1. The Union is supporting stability in the Balkans. Assistance projects in seven countries receive EU funding, helping build stable societies. In Kosovo (1), the EU has deployed a 1900-strong justice and police force to help secure the rule of law. Countries in the Western Balkans are already candidates or potential candidates for membership of the EU as part of its enlargement policy.
  2. The Union is member of the Quartet, alongside the United Nations, the United States and Russia, which is working to push for peace in the Middle East . Resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a strategic priority for Europe. The EU’s objective is a two-state solution with an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel and its other neighbours
  3. The Union is offering its neighbours a privileged relationship within the European Neighbourhood Policy . The policy is designed to strengthen the prosperity, security and stability of all partners and to avoid the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and countries of the southern Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and the southern Caucasus.
  4. The Union was instrumental in negotiating the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and, boasting a domestic low-carbon agenda that is probably the most advanced and sophisticated in the world, remains a crucial player on this issue, indispensable for pushing an ambitious agenda of change. The Union is focusing on building a coalition for a legally binding agreement on climate change.
  5. The Union works closely with the United Nations on a host of issues. The Union’s belief in multilateralism reflects an attachment to negotiated, binding rules in international relations, and is explicitly spelled out in the Treaty of Lisbon . Wherever possible, the Union seeks to replace or moderate power politics by rules and norms, hence making international relations more similar to the domestic order: more peaceful and predictable.
  6. The Union runs military, political or civilian missions to help build and secure the peace in a number of countries in Europe, Africa and beyond, such as in Afghanistan.
  7. The Union is committed to human rights and works to ensure they are respected universally. The EU has made human rights a central aspect of its external relations: in the political dialogues it holds with third countries; through its development policy and assistance; or through its action in multilateral fora, such as the United Nations.
  8. The Union acts as single player in foreign trade and supports the principles of free and fair international trade. As it negotiates with one voice, it can exercise real influence. Together, the European Union's 28 members account for 19% of world imports and exports. Since its technical norms are widely used throughout the world, it often sets the terms of the debate.
  9. The Union supports the social and economic development of its partners, and stands ready to help when they are faced with disaster. Together, the EU and its Member States are the world’s largest donor of development and humanitarian aid. Their contributions account for 60% of the world’s official development assistance.
  10. The Union is facing up to the challenges of managing global international economic and financial issues , for instance in the context of the G-20. It contributes to the ongoing effort to reform international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and IMF and to re-regulating the international financial sector. The common currency, the euro, bestows additional influence upon the euro area and the European Central Bank.


(1) Under UNSC Resolution 1244