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


Kenya and the EU

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

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

Photo: Ambassador Dejak and President Kenyatta after a Kenya-EU political dialogue meeting at the State House


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 ties between Kenya and Europe still reflect the limited amount of contact between eastern Africa and Europe until the last century, but contemporary cultural links are flourishing including the organisation each year of a successful European Film Festival which is now into its 27th year.

Political dialogue

Kenya's and the EU's mutual interests and common values make us natural allies. With that in mind, EU diplomats and Kenyan decision-makers are now engaged in a political dialogue about how best to work together: as allies in promoting peace and stability, as partners 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.


Human rights

Kenya: EU Delegation and Amnesty International

Photo: Meeting between EU Delegation and Amnesty International representatives


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. 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 Kenya's biggest trading partner. Most of Kenya's exports to the European Union are 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 over 500000 Kenyans depending 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 suppliers of development assistance to Kenya. European Union development assistance supports devolution and access to justice, road and energy infrastructure, and better access to affordable food and clean water.

Based on Kenya’s development strategy Vision 2030, 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 800,000 Kenyans are still in need of humanitarian assistance after cumulative effects of persistent drought and poor harvests (though this number is down from some 3 million in 2017). Kenya is also host to some 486 000 refugees from neighbouring countries.

The European Union provides humanitarian aid which helps support refugees in Kenya, builds the resilience of Kenyan communities that are vulnerable to natural hazards or disease outbreaks, and improves Kenya's emergency preparedness and response.

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


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