European Union External Action

EU-Canada relations

Brussels, 01/04/2017 - 08:00, UNIQUE ID: 161029_11

Canada is one of the closest and longest-standing partners of the European Union. Our shared common democratic values, the responsibility to defend human rights and dignity for all, and social protection define our relationship.

2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the European Union's formal cooperation with Canada. In 1976, the European Union (then the European Economic Community) concluded a Framework Commercial and Economic Agreement with Canada and opened its overseas diplomatic mission in Ottawa, which at the time was its third worldwide.

Forty years later, EU–Canada relations stand to be strengthened through the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). As a progressive trade agreement, CETA will generate economic growth and jobs through facilitating trade and investment relations with Canada. The SPA will enhance our dialogue on political, foreign policy and sectoral issues. Together, CETA and SPA mark the beginning of a new, dynamic chapter in EU-Canada relations.

The European Union's relationship with Canada has evolved over the past 40 years from primarilytrade-based into a political and strategic partnership. The EU and Canada share a strong commitment to democracy, the rule of law and multilateralism, which underpin our cooperation in all aspects of international affairs.

The European Union has negotiated with Canada the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), which will institutionalise links and significantly upgrade EU-Canada foreign policy and sectorial cooperation. It reflects our joint commitment to uphold and advance democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to work together to strengthen international peace and security, and effective multilateralism. Through the SPA, the EU and Canada will also cooperate on global economic issues, sustainable development, energy security, environment, and climate change. The agreement further seeks to reinforce judicial and law enforcement cooperation between EU and Canada, aimed at fighting inter alia organised crime and corruption, terrorism, illicit drugs and cybercrime. Negotiations of the SPA were launched in September 2011, the Agreement was initialled in September 2014, and was adopted by the European Commission in April 2015. The Agreement was signed on 30 October 2016 on the occasion of the EU-Canada Summit and two-thirds of the Agreement will enter into effect on a provisional basis as of 1 April 2017, while the rest will only enter into force upon ratification by all EU Member States and Canada.


The EU and Canada have similar approaches to foreign policy issues, such as Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Iraq and the fight against Da'esh. As like-minded partners, we support the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and we participate in the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and in the Global Coalition against Da'esh. We are committed to supporting displaced persons and their host communities and to working towards the long-term, sustainable, post-conflict stabilisation and rehabilitation of Syria and Iraq and to eradicating conditions conducive to violent extremism.

In November 2005, the European Union and Canada concluded an agreement establishing a framework for Canada's participation in EU crisis management operations. Canada is one of the most consistent contributors to the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations. To date, Canada has participated in 10 missions/operations, namely EUPM BiH, Concordia, Artemis, EUFOR Althea, EUPOL Kinshasa, EULEX Kosovo and EUPOL Afghanistan. Currently, Canada is seconding personnel to two civilian missions - EU Police Missions in the Palestinian Territories (EUPOL COPPS), and the EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform in Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine) – as well as providing a financial contribution to the military operation to EUTM Mali.

A dedicated Security and Defence Dialogue was launched on 1 May 2015. This is an important platform for regular exchanges as well as for exploring new areas for cooperation, including on participation in CSDP missions and operations, education and training, research and development as well as capacity building. Starting in 2014, annual symposia on EU-Canada cooperation in Common Foreign and Security Policy have been held, bringing together senior representatives of the EU's and Canada's foreign and security policy community. The EU and Canada also work jointly to combat terrorism, both bilaterally through the EU-Canada Counter-Terrorism Political Dialogue and multilaterally through the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF), Anti-ISIL Coalition and the Countering Violent Extremism Summit process. This close partnership is also reflected in the recently concluded Security of Information Agreement (SIA), which sets the framework for the exchange of classified information between EU and Canada and will facilitate further CSDP cooperation and cooperation on Counter-terrorism.

Canada is a participating state in EU Election Observation Missions (EU EOMs), together with Switzerland and Norway. Canada is sending Long- and Short-term Observers to the EU's election observation missions, with recent examples including Peru (2016), Egypt (2014), Tunisia (2014), and Pakistan (2013).

The EU and Canada both show leadership in international efforts to combat climate change and head towards a low-carbon global economy. We are proud of our instrumental roles in achieving a universal, legally-binding global climate deal in Paris. Now efforts focus on the development and implementation of commitments under the Paris Agreement, as well as support to developing countries for financing and climate adaptation efforts. In 2017, the European Union and Canada will hold a High Level Dialogue on Climate, with a focus on implementation of the Paris Agreement.   

Canada has been a key ally of the EU in calling for global responsibility sharing on migration, including as part of the G7 and the G20. In September, two multilateral summits held in the margins of the UN General Assembly (UN summit on migration, US summit on refugees), provided the occasion to step up global efforts in tackling the root causes of migration. The EU and Canada hold a regular political dialogue on migration issues. 

The EU is Canada's second largest trading partner, with bilateral trade in goods and services amounting to more than €63 billion a year. The economic relationship covers a wide range of sectors, from agriculture to chemicals and machinery. The EU is also Canada’s second-largest investment partner, with total bilateral investment stocks at nearly €440 billion.

Negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) began in May 2009 and their completion was announced during the EU-Canada Summit in September 2014. CETA will be the EU's first free trade agreement with a G7 country and one of the most progressive agreements it has ever negotiated. CETA will boost trade, strengthen economic relations and create jobs. CETA’s progressive nature will set a new global standard for sustainability chapters in trade agreements. It will make business with Canada easier, removing customs duties, substantially improving access to public contracts, opening up new sectors of the Canadian services market, offering predictable conditions for investors, and protecting Geographical Indications. Companies in several sectors will also benefit from the gains derived from the elimination of double testing, in particular SMEs. With CETA, the EU and Canada are committed to ensure that economic growth, social development and environmental protection are mutually supportive.

 For more information on CETA, visit the website, which includes FAQs, exporters’ stories, a quick guide to the benefits, and more. The text of the agreement is available here and the annexes here.

The EU and Canada hold regular High Level Dialogues on energy and the environment. The most recent High Level Dialogue on Energy took place in Ottawa September 2016, while the environment dialogues are expected to meet again in 2017.

Canada is a net exporter of most energy commodities and an especially significant producer of conventional and unconventional oil, natural gas, and hydroelectricity. It controls the third-largest amount of proven oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Energy market diversification is a priority for Canada, which is currently highly dependent on the US market for its exports of oil and gas. The EU and Canada have identified several areas for enhanced cooperation, ranging from gas markets in the EU and Canada (including infrastructure, LNG and unconventional resources), to research and innovation (e.g. carbon capture and storage, bioenergy, smart grids), renewables, energy efficiency and security of supply. Both sides seek to cooperate on as many of these issues as possible in relevant international fora (for example, the G7, G20, International Energy Agency, and the Clean Energy Ministerial, among others).

As climate change and economic development accelerate and the strategic importance of the Arctic region increases, the EU is committed to engaging with Canada and other Arctic partners on environmental protection and sustainable development of the region. Canada supports EU observer status in the Arctic Council. In 2014, Canada and the EU signed a Joint Statement on a framework for cooperation to enable access to the EU of seal products from traditional hunts conducted by Canadian indigenous communities that contribute to their subsistence. The EU's financial contribution to Arctic cooperation stands at €20 million a year for research and €1.18 billion over the last seven years for regional development.  In 2013, a trilateral EU-Canada-US Transatlantic Ocean Research Alliance was established, focusing on the North Atlantic Ocean and Arctic, and the promotion of sustainable management of its resources. The EU and Canada also cooperate on marine and Arctic research in the context of the Horizon 2020 research framework programme. Since 2014, an EU-Canada working group on Arctic Research Cooperation has coordinated various research and science initiatives.

The European Union and Canada cooperate in many international fisheries fora and hold regular dialogues on fisheries and maritime affairs. The basis for cooperation on combatting illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing was laid in 2016 through the signature of a Joint Statement between the two parties.

A Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement has existed between Canada and the EU since 1996. Cooperation under the agreement is strong and focuses mainly on marine research in the Atlantic and the Arctic, health research, aeronautics and ICT research, agri-food and biotechnology as well as cooperation on research infrastructure and researcher mobility. Over 480 Canadian researchers have received funding through the Marie Curie Actions (2007-2013), while the programme has also enabled more than 570 researchers to work in Canada. Over 60 top Canadian researchers have received European Research Council grants. A new initiative related to the European Research Council was signed in 2016 to facilitate cooperation between researchers of excellence. Also noteworthy is the cooperation between Canadian researchers and the Human Brain Project, a major EU flagship on brain research, cognitive neuroscience and brain-inspired computing. Further to this, youth and student mobility is also an important element on the EU-Canada agenda.

The negotiations with Canada on a new Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement started in January 2011, in parallel with PNR negotiations with the United States and Australia. The agreement will set a legal framework for the transfer of PNR data by carriers operating passenger flights between the EU and Canada. The PNR data may be used to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute terrorist offenses or serious transnational crimes. The new EU-Canada PNR Agreement was signed in June 2014 and sent to the European Parliament for consent in July 2014. In November 2014, the European Parliament decided to submit the draft agreement to the Cour de justice de l'Union européenne for an opinion on whether it complies with the EU Treaties. The ECJ opinion is still pending.

Visa reciprocity is a central principle of the EU's common visa policy. Following intensive and coordinated efforts and sustained engagement between the EU and Canada, Canada, in October 2016, provided a clear timeline for achieving full visa waiver reciprocity with the European Union. The Canadian government has announced that it will lift the visa requirement from 1 May 2017 for Bulgarian and Romanian travellers who have held a Canadian temporary resident visa in the past 10 years or who hold a valid U.S. non-immigrant visa. The visa requirement for all Bulgarian and Romanian travellers should be lifted as of 1 December 2017. The Commission will continue its work to ensure that full visa waiver reciprocity will be put in place by Canada for all Bulgarian and Romanian travellers by 1 December 2017, as confirmed in the Joint Declaration of the EU-Canada Summit in October 2016.



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