European Union External Action

Colombia and the EU

Political relations between the European Union and Colombia are strong, stable and dynamic. The historic ties that unite them have permitted constant multilateral to bilateral dialogue, with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States – EU/CELAC (previously with the Rio Group) under the framework cooperation agreement between the European Union and the Andean community and at the bilateral European Union-Colombia level.

The framework for political dialogue between the European Union and Colombia is the 1996 Rome Declaration and the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding, along with the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the Andean Community. This political relationship is complemented by a bilateral dialogue on human rights initiated in 2009 and the Trade Agreement that entered into force in 2013.

In recent years, European support for the peace process in Colombia has shaped the European Union-Colombia relationship, as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, pointed out during her visit to Colombia in May 2016. This support has found expression in the appointment of an EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process, Eamon Gilmore, as well as the launching of a trust fund for peace in Colombia, among other cooperation projects for peace.

The European Union (EU), with its 28 Member States and a population of more than 500 million, is the world's largest trading bloc. The EU has exclusive jurisdiction over trade policy, meaning that only the institution (and not the individual countries) has authority in matters of trade legislation and the conclusion of international trade agreements. The scope of the EU's exclusive powers includes trade in goods, services, commercial aspects of intellectual property and direct foreign investment (DFI). 

The Trade Agreement between Colombia and the European Union, in force since August 2013, is a modern agreement that reaches beyond trade and tariff measures to include the area of services, intellectual property, public contracts and more. In addition, the Agreement covers Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD), in line with the new European trade strategy defined in October 2015: "Trade for all: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy". This is based on core principles of efficiency, transparency and respect for human rights and seeks to ensure that the benefits of trade reach consumers, workers and producers, with particular attention given to SMEs and citizens of developing countries.

Colombia is the European Union's main trading partner within the Andean Community and the fifth in Latin America, with a transaction volume that reached €13.3 billion in 2015. For its part, the EU is Colombia's second largest trading partner and the first source of direct foreign investment in the country.

In 2015, Colombian exports to the EU reached a value of €6.6 billion, primarily mineral products (60 %), like oil and coal, and agricultural products (30.5 %), in particular fresh bananas (€850 million) and coffee (€626 million). For the same period, Colombian imports from the EU amounted to €6.5 billion, consisting primarily of machinery and mechanical devices (€1.1 billion), pharmaceutical products (€822 million), aircraft (€545 million) and vehicles (€512 million).

Colombia's position as a country with extreme biodiversity and its environmental challenges give special importance to issues related to green diplomacy. The European Union, recognising the global impact of climate change and its future importance, seeks to incorporate these themes into all its actions, particularly in Colombia.

The EU supports initiatives to mitigate, adapt to and reduce vulnerability to climate change and finances projects that seek to build sustainable development models and promote peace-building initiatives under the Paris Agreement (signed by 195 countries), which establishes a worldwide action plan to limit global warming and which came into force on 4 November 2016 after ratification by all EU Member States. 

The EU has conducted various projects to support the Colombian judicial sector and makes strengthening the rule of law and the fight against impunity a priority in this area. The EU is engaged with Colombian authorities and civil society in an ongoing dialogue on human rights, which covers issues such as support for human rights defenders, child welfare, gender issues, business and human rights, the rights of Afro-descendent and indigenous communities, and victim support. A variety of political and cooperation actions intended to advance the protection of human rights and strengthen democracy in Colombia complement this dialogue. 

Bilateral relations between the EU and Colombia with regard to science and technology occur within the context of the EU's 8th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020 (2014-2020), which addresses the main social challenges, promotes industry leadership in Europe and its partner countries, and reinforces the excellence of its scientific base. 

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