Delegation of the European Union to Kenya

Kenya and the EU

12/05/2016 - 11:38
EU relations with Country

The European Union is one of Kenya's leading international partners



The European Union is the biggest market in the world for Kenya's exports. It's also a major source of funding to support regional security, of investment in Kenya's economy, of financial support for the country's development, and of aid to alleviate humanitarian crises that affect Kenya. Europeans from all walks of life – businesspeople, tourists, artists, diplomats, NGO workers and many more – are engaged in a relationship with the people of Kenya: a close cultural and social relationship.

Cultural relations

Graphic: European Film Festival in Kenya


Cultural relations between the EU and Kenya have been growing steadily. Culminating in the European Film Festival, the EU works with Kenyan Cultural Institutions and emerging film makers to strengthen the Kenyan film industry and creative industry, which have the potential to become a stronger pillar in Kenya's economy. Twenty European countries participated in the 2019 edition, now in its 28th year.

Political dialogue

Kenya and the European Union share mutual interests and common values. This is reflected in a political partnership that regularly brings together representatives from the EU and EU Member States and key Kenyan decision-makers. The last dialogue was held on 12 November 2018 during which the EU and Kenya discussed how best to work together for example in promoting peace and stability, in trade and development, and as likeminded actors on the world stage.

The EU supports Kenya's efforts to strengthen its democracy and pluralism, good governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. These principles are set out in the Cotonou Agreement, which governs relations between African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU. EU Election Observation Missions have been deployed upon invitation from the Kenyan Government in 2002, 2007, 2013 and 2017.


Human rights


Human rights is a cornerstone of Kenya's Constitution, as well as being a key value for the EU. Support for human rights defenders is a long-established part of the EU's external relations policy, and in Kenya is implemented in accordance with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (Guidelines in English, Guidelines in Swahili).

ITS Carlo Margottini

Photo: The European multimission frigate ITS Carlo Margottini made a port visit to Mombasa in 2018


The European Union supports the efforts of the Government and people of Kenya to improve security throughout the country. Kenyans and Europeans have suffered from terrorist atrocities in Kenya, and the EU recognises that respect for Constitutional and fundamental human rights, as well as a sense of shared social and economic opportunity, is essential to deny the terrorists their aim of undermining free societies. The EU supports governments and communities across the Horn of Africa through programmes to:

  • counter violent extremism
  • tackle money laundering and terrorist financing
  • improve investigatory and judicial capabilities to help prosecute terrorist offences.

Under the Common Security and Defence Policy, the EU also operates a number of missions in the region to:

  • improve regional maritime security capacity including counter-piracy and maritime governance;
  • prevent piracy and armed robbery off Somalia's coast and protect World Food Programme and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) ships;
  • strengthen the Somali Government’s security institutions with a deployed military training mission;
  • reduce Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear risks as well as counter terrorism and organised crime, through the Instrument contributing to Stability & Peace (IcSP). 

The IcSP-funded regional programmes are based in and operate from Kenya, with Nairobi also hosting the EU's CBRN risk mitigation centre's regional secretariat.

Stability in Somalia is vital to security in the region. The European Union contributes diplomatically and financially to AMISOM and is a leading supporter of the country's peace process and of progress in Somalia’s development and governance.

The European Union is a significant trading partner to Kenya. Representing Kenya's biggest export market with 21.1% of Kenya's total exports to the world, these exports are mainly agricultural products, notably tea, coffee, cut flowers, peas and beans. Some 70% of Kenya's total flower production is exported to the European Union, with the livelihoods of over 500,000 Kenyans depending directly or indirectly on the floriculture sector.

Kenya is eastern Africa's regional commercial hub thanks to its favourable location, skilled labour force and vibrant business community. European companies lead the way in investing in Kenya, generating jobs and tax revenue. The European Investment Bank provides long-term development loans to support the building of energy and transport infrastructure.

The European Union is a single market - comprising 28 member states - of 500 million consumers. The European Union is the biggest trade bloc in the world, accounting for around 15% of global exports and imports. It is also the second largest importer (after the USA) and the second largest exporter (after China). The European Union is the leading market for more than 80 countries, being one of the most open economies in the world.

The Trade Helpdesk (previously known as the Export helpdesk) is an online service to facilitate market access in particular for developing countries to the European Union. This free and user friendly online service for exporters, importers, trade associations and governments, provides information on:
• EU and Member States' import requirements as well as internal taxes applicable to products;
• import tariffs and other import measures;
• EU preferential import regimes benefiting developing countries.

Together, the European Union and its Member States are the biggest providers of development assistance to Kenya. In November 2018, the European Union, 19 EU member states represented in Kenya and the European Investment Bank launched the Joint Cooperation Strategy 2018-2022 under which €4.5 billion in combined development aid will support the priorities and objectives of the national government focused on the Big Four agenda (manufacturing, food security, universal health coverage and affordable housing).

Based on Kenya’s development strategy, the following sectors of concentration have been identified as priorities for European Commission funding:

  • Food security and resilience to climatic shocks
  • Sustainable infrastructure
  • Accountability of public institutions

In addition the EU provides some funding to Kenya for other cross-cutting activities, such as support to strengthen the National Treasury's role as the National Authorising Officer of development funding for the country. And Kenya also receives funding from various other EU programmes that address particular topics at a regional (multiple-country) or global level.

For more details, see our projects pages.

Kenya is prone to disasters and needs to strengthen its emergency preparedness and response capacity. Some 700,000 Kenyans are food insecure due to increasingly unpredictable weather. After cumulative effects of persistent drought and poor harvests in 2017, April and May 2018 experienced heavy rains and massive flooding in 40 out of Kenya's 47 counties. In 2018, the EU Humanitarian Aid to Kenya amounted to €11.5 million.

Kenya is also host to some 470,000 refugees from neighbouring countries. The EU supports refugees in Kenya, by also working with Kenyan host communities covering basic life-saving services (food assistance, health care, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene), protection and education. This offers learning opportunities for over 130,000 pupils enrolled in Kenya's main refugee camps Dadaab and Kakuma.

For more details, see the Kenya pages of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.


Editorial Sections: