Zimbabwe-EU relations, which started in 1982, are governed by the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, better known as the Cotonou Agreement
Article 8 of the ACP/EU Partnership foresees a regular political dialogue to foster mutual understanding, to facilitate the establishment of agreed priorities and to strengthen cooperation within international fora.
The dialogue focusses on political issues of mutual concern and encompasses a regular assessment of developments concerning the respect for human rights, democratic principles, the rule of law and governance.
In February 2002, the Council of the European Union assessed that the Government of Zimbabwe continued "to engage in serious violations of human rights and of the freedom of opinion, of association and of peaceful assembly", and imposed restrictive measures against individuals and companies that were considered responsible for human rights violations. The measures include a travel ban, an asset freeze and an arms embargo, and have been gradually removed over recent years, also owing to the adoption of a new constitution and the improvement of the human rights situation. Today, only two individual and one company remain on this list.
In parallel, the EU also maintained so-called 'appropriate measures' between 2002 and 2014, as defined in Article 96 of the Agreement. These measures consisted of the suspension of all direct development cooperation with the Government and its reorientation as direct support of the population in the social sectors, democratisation, respect for human rights and the rule of law, implemented through international agencies or civil society organisations.
Since the lifting of the appropriate measures in November 2014, the EU and its Member States have engaged in regular political dialogue with the Government of Zimbabwe at senior officials' level, and EU bilateral development cooperation with the country resumed.
The EU and its Member States are also holding a regular and structured dialogue with civil society on issues of mutual interest, such as constitutionalism, climate change, etc.