Work with the 3 UN agencies in Rome

How we work with the UN Organisations in Rome

I. The EU Delegation to the UN in Rome acts as a link between the 3 Rome-based UN organisations and the EU headquarters in Brussels.

Signing ceremony with the Heads of the UN Rome-based agencies and EU Commissioners Georgieva and Piebalgs ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Created in 1993, the EU Delegation works with the UN Rome-based agencies , promoting the Community's interests as embodied in the common policies, including the agricultural, fisheries, environmental, and health and safety policies. In addition, the Delegation represents the European Union in its role to provide external assistance, through programmes of the 3 UN agencies. The working relations between the European Union and the United Nations are based on a Financial and Administrative Agreement (FAFA)

On 27 June 2011, the European Commission, FAO, WFP and IFAD signed a Statement of Intent on Programmatic Cooperation on Food Security and Nutrition pdf - 6 MB [6 MB] to harmonize and coordinate the implementation of their goals related to food security and humanitarian food assistance.

The Delegation is permanently in close contact with the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Directorates General (DGs) of the European Commission (EC) in Brussels to communicate and inform the headquarters about the most important issues dealt in Rome. It receives instructions from the various EU services in Brussels to defend and explain the EU's positions at the various meetings in Rome.

The EU acts and takes decisions in a very specific way in each of the 3 UN bodies in Rome since each of the 3 UN sisters has a specific mandate and legal status, and since the EU itself has a different kind of membership in each of them. The 3 different situations can be summarised as follows:

Food and Agriculture Organisation
World Food Programme
International Fund for Agricultural Development
UN StatusSpecialised UN AgencyUN ProgrammeUN Fund
(Bretton Woods system)
Headed byCurrent DG is José Graziano da Silva, since 1 January 2012, re-elected in 2015Executive Director appointed by the UN SG and the FAO DG for 5 years- current Executive Director is Ertharin Cousin, since April 2012President elected by the Governing Council for 4 years – current President is Mr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, since February 2009 and re-elected in February 2013
EU Status Member Organisation*Permanent Observer*Simple Observer*
EU-UN level of partnershipPartnership AgreementPartnership AgreementFinancial and Administrative Framework Agreement
Executive bodyFAO Council
(49 rotating Members) Twice a year
WFP Executive Board (EB)
(36 members) 3 times a year
Governing Council
(+ replenishment session) Once a year
EU participation to the executive bodyMember of the CouncilPermanent Observer of the WFP Executive BoardInvited as observer for the Governing Council
Does the EU speak in the executive body?YES,
on behalf of the EU-28 on subjects of EC exclusive competence, and NO when the EU presidency speaks on subjects of Member States'competences
on behalf of the European Commission
EC Financial contributionFirst Donor, in extra-budgetary contributions + pay an annual fee to cover the administrative costs of the EC membershipOne of the largest donors (ECHO)On an ad-hoc basis (projects), generally in co-financing
EU coordinationSystematic coordination, in Brussels and in RomeInformal consultations, amongst EU-28 Member States and OECD countries (list D)Occasional exchange of views
  • Member of FAO: the EU is a full permanent member of the FAO Council and Conference, on an equal footing with states members of FAO, except voting right.
  • Permanent observer in WFP: as names indicates, the EC has a permanent seat on the Executive Board, but as observer, it can speak only after states members of the Board.
  • Simple observer in IFAD: the EU is not a member.

II. The interface with the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission headquarters in Brussels

1. The EEAS and the European Commission provides policy orientations and budgetary support:

The Delegation's main partners at Headquarters in Brussels are the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Directorates General (DGs) of the European Commission involved in foreign affairs and in charge of managing the EU financial support for development programmes and humanitarian aid (for example to the World Food Programme), meaning DG EuropeAid Development and Cooperation (DEVCO), and the European Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO). These 2 DGs constitute, with DG Enlargement (ELARG) and DG Trade (TRADE), the so-called external relations family.

Each EC Directorate General is assigned to one Commissioner.

  • The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini is in charge of the EEAS
  • The Commissioner for Development, Neven Mimica is in charge of DG EuropeAid Development and Cooperation (DG DEVCO)
  • The Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Christos Stylianides, is in charge of the European Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO)
  • The Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, is in charge of DG TRADE
  • The Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, is in charge of DG NEAR

2. Other EC DGs provide the EU Delegation in Rome with technical support for very specific meetings or projects, especially on FAO matters.

Since FAO has an important normative work in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food and nutrition, the Delegation relies on the expertise of specialists coming from Brussels to FAO for highly specific technical meetings or Committees. In this context, the Delegation benefits from the technical support of various DGs: DG Environment (DG ENV), DG Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), DG Health and Consumer (DG SANTE), DG Trade (DG TRADE) and DG Enterprise and Industry (DG ENTR).

3. Finally, the Joint Research Center (JRC, based in Ispra), is also providing the EU Delegation with sound expertise in food security activities

The Joint Research Centre provides technical support in food security matters through the secondment of a senior scientific officer. This expert contributes to the conception, implementation and evaluation of JRC food security activities involving FAO and WFP.

4. Nature of the relations between the EEAS and the European Commission Directorates General (EC DGS) and the UN Rome-based agencies

EXTERNAL RELATIONS FAMILYEuropean External Action Service (EEAS)External Relation on the strategic operational levelExternal Relation on the strategic on the operational level
Development and Cooperation (DG DEVCO)

International Development Assistance defined within the Treaty, the Cotonou agreement and the EC Development policy.

Programme and project implementation

Emergency assistance


Programme and project implementation



Programme and project implementation

European Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO)Promote crosscutting issues such as the link between relief and development (LRRD)Humanitarian Aid
Trade (DG TRADE)Link between Trade and DevelopmentImpact of food aid on local, regional and international agricultural markets
TECHNICAL SUPPORTAgriculture (DG AGRI)Food security and sustainable rural development/ link with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Codex Alimentarius, Genetic Resources, GenderConsultancy for technical projects in the context of rural development
Joint Research Centre (JRC)Food security, methods, forecasts and diagnostic of food shortage and food insecurity, IPC (Food Security Integrated Phase Classification)Food Security assessments, IPC
Health and Consumer Protection (DG SANTE)Food safety Codex Alimentarius
Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (DG MARE)ECO Labelling, Fish quotas and capture policy, Fish Resources
Enterprise and Industry (DG ENTR)Agricultural manufactured products (wood industry etc)
Environment (DG ENV)Environment protection: Forestry, Water and Soil, Climate change