Multilateral Relations

EU -UN 40 Years TOGETHER in Vienna | Multilateralism at Work

27/05/2019 - 18:14
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The EU works with all UN bodies, agencies and programmes across the entire scope of UN activities. The cooperation takes place on a broad range of areas such as industrial development, human rights, climate change, peace building, crisis management, disarmament and non-proliferation, humanitarian assistance, fighting corruption and crime, addressing global health concerns, managing migratory flows and labour issues.

The Delegation of the European Union in Vienna is responsible, inter alia, for the representation of the EU to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisations (UNIDO), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA).

Since 2011, the EU has been an observer with enhanced status at the UN General Assembly. This allows the EU to present common positions, make interventions, present proposals and participate in the general debate each September. Although the EU has no vote as such, it has obtained a special "full participant" status for example in the UN Conferences on Financing for Development and on Women. The EU is a non-State party to more than 50 UN multilateral agreements and conventions.

The EU each year adopts priorities for its relations with the UN and for the UN General Assembly. The priorities adopted over recent years make clear that the EU remains committed to strengthening the UN and to playing an active role at the UN in all relevant areas. The EU priorities also stress key challenges ahead, including the need for global responsibility-sharing on migration and refugees, solving crises, sustaining peace, and tackling terrorism and violent extremism.

The EU is also the single largest financial contributor to the UN system. The EU funds more than 30% of the UN's regular budget, 33% of UN peacekeeping operations and about one-half of all UN Member States' contributions to UN funds and programmes.



"Without global norms and the means to enforce them, peace and security, prosperity and democracy – our vital interests – are at risk. Guided by the values on which it is founded, the EU is committed to a global order based on international law, including the principles of the UN Charter, which ensure peace, human rights, sustainable development and lasting access to the global commons. This commitment translates into an aspiration to transform rather than simply preserve the existing system. The EU will strive for a strong UN as the bedrock of the multilateral rules-based order, and develop globally coordinated responses with international and regional organisations, states and non-state actors."

EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy.


committed to effective multilateralism

The European Union's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the United Nations at its core, is a central element of the EU’s external policy, as set out in the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy. To respond successfully to global crises, threats and challenges, the international community needs an efficient multilateral system, founded on universal rules and values. The United Nations is a key EU partner and an indispensable global forum for tackling global challenges, within the overall framework of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The EU Global Strategy envisages the strengthening of multilateral processes where they already exist (e.g. trade, maritime security, and marine resources) and the expansion of fledgling international regimes in areas such as disarmament, arms control or international criminal law. The EU also aspires to play a leading role in supporting the emergence of multilateral governance notably in areas like cyber security, digital economy, space or health. Also economically the EU has benefited greatly from the multilateral rules-based system, which allows for free and fair trade.



"Stronger partnerships are the building blocks of our foreign policy. All of today’s challenges transcend borders and national sovereignties. None of us, alone, can carry the weight of the world on its shoulders."

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, speaking at the UN Security Council on 6 June 2016



The European Union is a strong supporter of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as outlined in a dedicated EU Strategy. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), with its three equally important and mutually reinforcing pillars, is the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime.

The EU was the key facilitator of the Iran nuclear talks. It continues playing a major role in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as an integral part of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture. In this context, the EU closely cooperates with the IAEA, which is verifying and monitoring the implementation of Iran's nuclear-related commitments. The EU promotes the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and provides significant voluntary contributions to its unique global network of monitoring stations ensuring that no nuclear test goes undetected, and enhancing civil and scientific applications. The EU supports universal adherence to guidelines of export control regimes such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA). We also reach out to States to subscribe to the Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation (HCoC).


… High Representative is the coordinator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and has led diplomatic efforts between the E3/EU+3 and Iran, which resulted in the conclusion of the JCPOA in Vienna on 14 July 2015.

…Member States have all signed and ratified the CTBT.

…hosts 15% of International Monitoring System stations and 32% of Radionuclide Labs.



UNIDO is a key implementing partner of EU projects and programs on inclusive and sustainable industrial development. Together we create the economic growth and jobs which help reduce poverty, hunger, and inequality, and we improve resource efficiency and reduce emissions and pollution to protect our planet. At their high-level meetings the EU and UNIDO agree on project- and programme priorities.


…and UNIDO have been cooperating since 2005 to support sustainable industrial development in 112 countries.

…and its Member States contribute primarily to UNIDO projects in Sub-Sahara Africa and the Asia/Pacific region



Widely known as the world’s “Atoms for Peace and Development” organisation within the United Nations family, the IAEA is the international centre for cooperation for peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies, thereby contributing to the realisation of various Sustainable Development Goals.

The peaceful use of nuclear energy within the EU is governed by the 1957 Euratom Treaty, which established the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). All EU MS are also members of EURATOM.  The EU MS and the European Commission, within the field of their competences deal with nuclear activities from several angles such as nuclear safety, nuclear safeguards, nuclear security and nuclear research. 

All EU Member States are members of the IAEA. Based on the 1976 agreement with the IAEA, EURATOM is an observer and participates in all formal and informal meetings within its responsibility. EURATOM and Its Members are Party to all relevant Nuclear Safety and Security Conventions. In 2008 on behalf of EURATOM, the European Commission signed with the IAEA a Memorandum of Understanding for a partnership on nuclear safety cooperation. The EU actively supports the IAEA's safeguards system through the European Commission Safeguards Support Programme, the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation and through Member States' Support Programmes.

The EU and its Member States provide significant technical expertise to the IAEA and are one of the biggest donors to the IAEA and fully support the implementation of all IAEA activities thus promoting and contributing to global efforts for a safe, secure, peaceful and prosperous world.


…is funding amounts up to € 325 million over 2014-2020 in the field of nuclear safety, radiation protection and the application of efficient and effective safeguards in 3rd countries.

… through the European Commission Joint Research Centre provides technical competence and research capabilities for the implementation of many IAEA projects to maximise the benefit of nuclear science applications for EU and IAEA Member States.



UNODC is a global leader and an important partner for the EU in the fight against illicit drugs and transnational organised crime. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) are UN policy-making bodies and guide international action in the related fields. The EU cooperates with UNODC in broad range of geographical and thematic areas, such as GLO.ACT and the EU Cocaine Route Programme (CRIMJUST and AIRCOP), which contribute to the achievement of the SDGs relevant to the Commissions, in particular goals 3, 5, 6 and 8, 10 and 16.


… and UNODC cooperate in 24 ongoing projects around the world.

… is a State Party to the Conventions against Corruption and Transnational Crime in its own right and has ratified all Protocols thereto on behalf of its Member States.



EU earth-navigation and observation data (from Galileo and Copernicus) are available free charge for the benefit of all, to help create jobs, monitor the environment, and coordinate emergency assistance. In Vienna the EU works closely with the UNOOSA and the Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS). The EU is a Permanent Observer to COPUOS.


… space technology contributes to several SDGs, like goals 9, 11 and 13.

… has its own global navigation satellite system

… will be spending € 16 billion on a space program to boost the EU’s space capabilities in the years 2021 to 2027



1945: Signature of the UN Charter

1957: Signature of the Treaty of Rome

1976: IAEA/EURATOM Agreement. EURATOM is observer and participates in all formal and informal meetings within its responsibility.

1979: Opening of the Vienna International Centre and the EU Delegation to the International Organisations in Vienna

1993: Entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty; Signature of a Relationship Agreement between the EU and UNIDO

1996: Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT) opened for signatures

1998: Signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the EU and UNODC

2003: Signature of a Financial and Administrative Framework Agreement between the EU and IAEA

2009: Entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty

2010: Establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS)

2011: EU is granted enhanced observer rights at the UN by General Assembly Resolution A/65/276

2016: Implementation Plan of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) based on Security Council Resolution 2231

2018: EU becomes a Permanent Observer at the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS)

2019: 40th anniversary of the Vienna International Centre and the EU Delegation to the International Organisations in Vienna

2020: 75th anniversary of the UN; 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)