Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon

Lebanon and the EU

12/05/2016 - 12:00
EU relations with Country

An overview of relations between Lebanon and the European Union

The European Union and Lebanon are strategic partners cooperating closely on joint challenges. The close political relations between the EU and Lebanon are guided by an Association Agreement which has been in force since April 2006. The partnership is based on common values and interests, regular political, security, economic and social dialogue, wide-ranging people-to-people contacts, and substantial development and humanitarian assistance. The EU-Lebanon Agreement promotes human rights, political dialogue, free movement of goods, and economic, social and cultural cooperation.

In 2016, the EU and Lebanon adopted partnership priorities leading up to 2020, as well as a compact addressing the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon. The partnership priorities set up a renewed framework for political engagement and enhanced cooperation. They were agreed in the context of the revised European neighbourhood policy and the EU's global strategy for foreign and security policy. The Partnership priorities focus on security and countering terrorism, governance and the rule of law, fostering growth and job opportunities, and migration and mobility. The EU Partnership Priorities and Compact are a solid framework for further strategic development of EU-Lebanon cooperation.

European support for democracy and the rule of law in Lebanon takes various forms. The EU promotes the development of independent, effective and accountable public institutions, particularly the justice system and penitentiary administration. Furthermore, the EU supports Lebanese civil society as a vital partner for political decision-making. The European institutions maintain regular dialogue with CSOs, which are well placed to know the population's real needs in terms of human rights, good governance and development.

The EU is supporting Lebanon's economic vision in the follow-up to the 2018 CEDRE Conference. The objective is to support Lebanon in implementing the necessary economic and structural reforms to allow for the implementation of the Government's Capital Investment Plan and to find sustainable, transparent solutions to relieve both the state budget and citizens as well as to encourage international investors and donors.

Lebanon's stability remains of paramount importance to the European Union. Political dialogue between the EU and Lebanon promotes cooperation aimed at establishing peace, stability and security in the country. The EU cooperates with all Lebanese security agencies with the goal of promoting national cohesion and the role of the State as sole legitimate security provider.

The European Union and Lebanon have close economic relations, which have been strengthened by the Association Agreement in force since April 2006.

For Lebanon, the Agreement opens up special access to the vast European single market. The opening of Lebanon’s own market will furthermore stoke the country’s economic modernisation. This means employment and business opportunities for young people, and entrenching Lebanon’s position as a leading financial centre in the Middle East. Lebanon also benefits from increased access to European financial assistance and technology transfer.

For the EU, the Agreement means greater opportunities to provide goods and services to the Lebanese market, and access to the country’s resources.

The Agreement furthermore requires the Lebanese Government to carry out financial, economic, and administrative reforms. Productive sectors must also be modernised, in order to increase competitiveness and be in line with European and international standards. Lebanon undertakes to improve the local environment for international business and investment.

The European Union is Lebanon’s most important trading partner, making up about a third of Lebanese trade. The EU-Lebanon trade relations are governed by the Association Agreement in force since 2006. Based on the Interim Agreement, which entered into force in 2003, entailing an immediate enforcement of the Association Agreement’s economic and trade provisions, the EU and Lebanon progressively liberalised trade in goods, with a view to creating a bilateral Free Trade Area. As a result, Lebanese industrial products as well as most agricultural products benefit from free access to the EU market. 

The EU and Lebanon have intensified the trade dialogue since 2016 with the creation of a Joint Working Group (WG) on Trade which regularly meets in order to further trade facilitation and seeking ways to assist Lebanon in boosting its trade export potential, its productivity and competitiveness 

The Agreement also strengthens Lebanon’s position in its negotiations to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO), an ambition the EU strongly supports.

The European Union provides significant financial aid and technical assistance to Lebanon Since 2011, the European Commission has allocated over EUR 1.5 billion, including aid to respond to the consequences of Syrian crisis in Lebanon.  

Among the various instruments within the large EU toolbox, the Single Support Framework (SSF) is based on the bilateral relationship in the framework of the agreed EU-Lebanon Partnership Priorities and the Compact. The current SSF covers the period 2017 to 2020 and provides continuity from the previous focal sectors under the SSF 2014-2016 while builds upon the achievements of and lessons learned from its implementation. EU programming for the period 2017-2020 aims at maximising the impact of EU action by ensuring synergies between the EU and its Member States (including agencies and development banks) including progress towards EU Joint Programming. To ensure Lebanon’s ownership of its development agenda, the EU works through national institutions. EU bilateral assistance offers predictability: financial envelopes are defined for several years and allow for continuous support for development and reform, in accordance with national plans 

The SSF 2017-2020 provides for 3 priority sectors of cooperation: 1) promoting growth and job creation; 2) Fostering local governance and socio-economic development; 3) promoting rule of law, enhancing security and counter terrorism. EU-Lebanon cooperation includes specific support for capacity development and institution building as well as measures in favour of civil society. The indicative allocation for EU-Lebanon cooperation for 2017-2020 ranges from € 186.05 million to € 228 million  

The EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis aims at providing a coherent and reinforced aid response to the Syrian crisis on a regional scale, responding primarily to the needs of refugees from Syria in neighbouring countries, as well as of the communities hosting the refugees and their administrations, in particular as regards resilience and early recovery. As well as having a direct impact on the lives of Syrian refugees, Palestinian Refugees from Syria and vulnerable host communities in Lebanon, EU Trust Fund projects have a common emphasis on  pursuing a longer-term resilience agenda that has a transformative effect on public service delivery systems across a range of sectors in the country. Since 2015, the EU Trust Fund has been supporting projects in Education, Health, Protection, Livelihoods, Social Protection, Water and Local development for a value of more than € 500 million. 

In addition, humanitarian assistance is provided through the European Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), which allocated € 583 million since 2012. 

In addition to the above regular and exceptional funding, Lebanon benefits from other cooperation mechanisms, including: 

  • The Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) promoting investments by European financial institutions, in particular in the areas of transport, energy and the environment; 

  • The Horizon 2020 Programme and the Seventh Framework Programme(FP7) funding technology and innovation research projects; 

  • Thematic regional programmes promoting networks and integration in the Mediterranean, such as the Programme for Civil Society and Local Authorities. 

European assistance in Lebanon is also directly provided by EU countries, as well as by European financial institutions, including the European Investment Bank (EIB). 

The EU continues to support Palestine refugees in Lebanon, mainly channelled through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), but also through non-governmental organisations (NGOs). 

NGOs can continuously monitor open and scheduled calls for proposals (and the respective guidelines for applicants) at the following link:  


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