Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

Pakistan and the EU

11/05/2016 - 18:10
EU relations with Country

This page provides an outline of the relations between the European Union (EU) and Pakistan in areas such as political, economic and trade relations, governance, rural development and human rights.

The EU and Pakistan are important political partners. The Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan represents the EU on a range of issues including: development cooperation, trade, humanitarian assistance, security and counter terrorism, energy, environment, health, transport, migration and climate change.

Political and security relations are getting stronger, something which is underscored by the EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan 2019.

A EU-Pakistan Joint Commission meets annually to review the progress on the agreement.

The EU supports Pakistan’s integration into the global economy. This is being achieved by:

  • furthering bilateral trade,
  • promoting direct investment,
  • supporting institution building, and
  • defending human rights, including the implementation of international labour standards.

The EU also supports the Pakistan Government’s on-going economic reform agenda in consultation with the international financial institutions. In addition, the EU is planning to expand its dialogue and cooperation with Pakistan in relation to energy issues.

The EU is by far the biggest export destination for Pakistani products - about 1/3rd of its exports reach the EU market. 

Pakistan’s exports to the EU grew by more than 64% since the granting of the GSP+ status Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in 2014. In 2019, Pakistani exports to the EU were worth €7.49 billion. This represents almost 30% of Pakistan's exports globally. This is about twice the exports to the USA and about 3 times exports to China.

Pakistan's exports to the EU are heavily dependent on textile and clothing products, which account for 76% of all exports.  Many more products could be exported to the EU under the GSP+ preferences. A more diverse export base, in particular in value-added products would allow Pakistan multiply its benefit of GSP+.

On 10/02/2020, the European Commission released its third biennial report on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) is the EU trade policy’s main tool to support developing countries and their efforts to pursue sustainable development. The GSP removes import duties from products coming into the EU from developing countries. This helps developing countries to alleviate poverty and create jobs, while at the same time abiding by international values and principles.

 2019 Biennial Report on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)

The EU is third largest source of Pakistan’s imports after China (29%); and the UAE (14%) accounting for around 9% of the total imports in 2018. The main imports from the EU are machinery and appliances, transport equipment and chemical and pharmaceuticals. 

FileInfographic timeline GSP+  

PDF iconInteresting EU-Pakistan bilateral Trade statistics

Development cooperation

Along with its member countries, the EU provides Pakistan with about €700 million per year for development and humanitarian assistance.

Among other issues, the EU supports Pakistan in its efforts to tackle poverty, increase literacy, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat major diseases, and ensure environmental sustainability.

Science and technology

The EU and Pakistan are committed to cooperating in science and technology.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020).

The Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan has concluded a partnership with the Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) to promote the Horizon 2020 programme in Pakistan.

Support for specific issues

Multi Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) details the EU cooperation priorities with the Pakistan for the years 2014-2020.  The assistance provided through the EU Delegation focuses on delivering long-term support for Rural Development, Education and Governance. (See entries below for more details).

Through the MIP, the EU is contributing more than €340 million to rural development in Pakistan.

The funding programme focuses on boosting economic growth and livelihoods in some of Pakistan’s poorest areas.

Efforts will therefore be made to:

  • Widen access to basic public services,
  • Reduce social and economic inequality,
  • Increase income-generating activities, and
  • Contribute to building peace and stability in areas affected by unrest. 

The MIP provides €210 million to improve Pakistan’s education and training systems.

Specific objectives include:

  • Improving access to – and completion of – basic and secondary education for children, while reducing gender and regional differences in provision.
  • Improving the quality of education by introducing better teaching and materials; assessment systems and school management practices will also be upgraded.
  • Improving the productivity and employability of workers by introducing relevant technical and vocational training programmes.

About €97 million has been allocated through the MIP to bolster democracy in Pakistan.

Specific objectives are to:

  • Strengthen democratic institutions and electoral processes – fighting corruption, improving legislation and greater scrutiny of government.
  • Support the decentralisation of public administrations – improving the management of public finances and service delivery.
  • Improve security and the rule of law – protecting people’s human rights, making law enforcement, legal and judicial systems more accountable.
  • Promote Human Rights – strengthen the capacity of the key institutions and civil society to promote, monitor and enhance awareness on Human Rights.

Since 2009, the EU has provided Pakistan with €565 million. Relief items are also being channelled to victims of flood and severe weather.

In 2019, the EU continued to support people affected by conflict and those suffering from malnutrition and food insecurity, as well as Afghan refugees in the country. It offers:

  • access to safe drinking water,
  • sanitation facilities,
  • shelter,
  • healthcare,
  • protection to conflict-displaced families, and
  • education.

To find out more about EU aid activities in Pakistan, please read this PDF iconfactsheet.

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