Canada and the European Union

The European Union (EU) is a strategic partner for Canada. The Canada-EU relationship is based on shared values, a long history of close cooperation, and strong people-to-people ties. Our relationship with the EU is the oldest formal relationship the EU has with any industrialized country, dating back to 1959. Thanks to the Canada-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement and the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), we are now working more closely than ever across on the whole policy spectrum, including foreign policy, international peace and security, trade and investment, and development cooperation.

The European Union is a strategic partner for Canada and we share many common values and policy priorities.

Canada and the EU enjoy a strong bilateral relationship across the broad spectrum of political and foreign and security policy.

Canada and the EU enjoy a strong bilateral trade and investment relationship.

Canada has a well-established agriculture and agri-food industry with long-standing success in the global marketplace.

Justice and Home Affairs issues such as migration, border management, and judicial and police cooperation are important areas of Canada-EU cooperation.

The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and is quite separate from the EU, is the continent's oldest political organization.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in the European Union provides on-the-ground intelligence and practical advice on this market to help make better, timely and cost-effective decisions.

Canada and the EU are actively committed to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment both at home and abroad.

Ailish Campbell is Canada’s Ambassador to the European Union.

Contact the Mission of Canada to the EU.

Canada-EU Relations

The Canada’s relationship with the EU is based on shared values, a long history of close cooperation, and strong people-to-people ties. Our relationship is the EU's oldest formal relationship with any industrialized country, officially dating back to 1959 when we signed the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. Canada is one of the EU’s official Strategic Partners.

Canada’s present-day relations with the EU are framed by two agreements. The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) governs our economic relations. It has created significant new commercial opportunities for Canadian and EU businesses in trade and investment, and forged closer links between our economies since its provisional entry into force in September 2017.

The Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) was signed at the same time as CETA and sets the framework for our political relationship. It too has been provisionally applied since April 2017. This agreement provides for regular dialogues, from the Leaders’ Summit level through Foreign Ministers' meetings to expert level meetings in specific policy and cooperation areas, such as security and defence, development, climate change and clean energy, the digital transition, and public health. Since 2017, the range of bilateral dialogues has expanded to cover 28 different thematic issues and geographic areas, involving Global Affairs Canada and eight other federal departments or agencies. The SPA has deepened the already close Canada-EU partnership across the policy spectrum, and has institutionalized mechanisms through which Canada formally engages concretely with the EU on a full range of non-economic issues. Canada’s SPA is the most comprehensive and ambitious among the EU’s agreements with Strategic Partners.

More information on how the EU works is available on the official website of the European Union.

Leaders’ Summits

Leaders’ Summits between the Prime Minister and the two European Presidents are mandated by the SPA. Prime Minister Trudeau and the Presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, last met in Summit format in Brussels on June 14, 2021 for the 18th Canada-EU Leaders’ Summit.

At the Summit, Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to continuing to collaborate on the post-pandemic green recovery and digital transition, the defence of the rules-based international order, and the advancement of international peace and security, democracy, human rights including gender equality, and the rule of law. The Leaders also endorsed several concrete deliverables that build on the extensive Canada-EU cooperation framework, such as the launch of a public health dialogue and of a strategic partnership in raw materials including critical metals and minerals.

Foreign and Security Policy Cooperation

Canada and the EU enjoy a strong bilateral relationship across the broad spectrum of foreign and security policy. We share a common history, common values, a commitment to preserving and promoting the rules-based international order, and we have common ambitions for the future. We work closely together, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to promote democracy, peace and security, respect for human rights, the rule of law, and effective multilateralism.

Under the auspices of the Canada-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement, we connect regularly to discuss issues of foreign policy and security. Examples include:

  • An annual "Joint Ministerial Committee" meeting which brings together the Canadian Foreign Minister and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission (HRVP). These meetings review the dynamic EU-Canada relationship and chart the way ahead.
  • Senior official and expert meetings to discuss a range of issues and themes in greater depth throughout the year. A multitude of formal and informal bilateral meetings also occur on the margins of other international fora where both Canada and the European Union are represented.

This extensive framework for consultations makes the Canada-EU bilateral relationship one of Canada's more structured in the international arena. Our relationship is always evolving to reflect the priorities of Canada and the EU in a changing world.

Peace and Security

As the European Union's foreign policy role has grown, so too has our cooperation in this area. Conflict prevention and increased international cooperation for more effective crisis management have become a central component of our political dialogue. Since 2003, Canada has contributed to 12 EU civilian and military missions in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Presently, Canada contributes police officers to the EU civilian missions in Ukraine, Mali, and the West Bank:

  • EU Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories (EUPOL COPPS) started its operations in 2006. It aims to provide enhanced efforts to establish an effective and sustainable civilian police force in the Territories.
  • The EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine) was established in 2014 to assist Ukraine in this reform, including police and the rule of law.
  • The EU civilian mission in Bamako, Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali) was launched in 2015 to assist and advise Mali's internal security forces as they implement the reform in the security sector.

Democracy and Human Rights

Canada and the EU regularly exchange views and work together to advance human rights. We have a structured, expert-level dialogue on human rights and pursue common priorities in the UN and in other multilateral fora. The EU is a strong supporter of Canada’s initiative to combat arbitrary detention for leverage in state-to-state relations.

Canada and the EU are committed to helping other states develop sustainable democratic institutions and practices. We do this by providing direct support, legal and administrative training, and technical assistance. An important area of Canada-EU joint action to promote democracy is electoral observation. Canada has participated in over 20 of the EU's election observation missions since 2005.

Trade & Investment

Canada and the EU enjoy a strong bilateral trade and investment relationship. In 2020, the EU was Canada’s second largest trading partner after the United States.

Canada-EU goods and services trade

  • Canada’s goods exports to the EU27 in 2020: $28.7 billion (5.5% of Canada’s global goods exports)
  • Canada’s goods imports from the EU27 in 2020: $50.9 billion (9.1% of Canada’s global goods imports)
  • Canada’s services exports to the EU27 in 2020:  $11.3 billion (9.9% of Canada’s global services exports)
  • Canada’s services imports from the EU27 in 2020: $14.3 billion (11.7% of Canada global services imports)
  • Known stocks of EU Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Canada were estimated to be worth $289 billion in 2020, representing 27.6% of global FDI in Canada.
  • The stock of Canadian direct investment abroad (CDIA) in the EU was $232.3 billion in 2020, representing 15.8% of Canada’s total outward FDI stock in 2020.

The EU is also an important source of new technologies and a key partner in science, technology and innovation. This helps to further Canada’s goal of becoming a world-leading knowledge-based economy.

The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was signed in 2016 and provisionally entered into force in 2017. CETA is a comprehensive trade agreement that addresses or eliminates barriers in virtually all sectors and aspects of Canada-EU bilateral trade, creating new commercial opportunities for both Canadian and EU businesses. CETA is a highly ambitious and inclusive trade agreement, which includes high standards for consumers, workers and the environment.

Despite the huge challenges brought on by COVID-19, CETA continues to work as intended. Bilateral merchandise trade in 2020 was still 15.2% higher than the pre-CETA level in 2016.

With its provisional application all economically significant parts of the agreement are now in force. The agreement will take full effect once all EU Member States have formally ratified it. Duties on 98% of products that the EU trades with Canada have been removed. Over the course of the next few years, a further 1% of tariff lines will be phased out, for a total of 99% of all Canadian goods entering the EU market duty-free. Apart from the tariff reductions, other key benefits of CETA are:

  • clear rules of origin
  • streamlined customs and trade facilitation
  • access to EU government procurement
  • enhanced labour mobility

CETA is also an agreement that includes high standards for consumers and workers, and the environment. For example, CETA contains a Trade and Sustainable Development Chapter, a Trade and Environment Chapter and a Trade and Labour Chapter designed to ensure that any increased economic activity as a result of the FTA does not occur at the expense of environmental protection or labour standards.

Science, Technology and Innovation

Canada has a strong and successful history of Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) collaboration with the EU, which goes back to 1959 with the signing of the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. It continues with the Canada-EU Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation. Under this agreement, Canada and the EU have established priority areas for STI cooperation, which include aerospace, agriculture and agri-food, Arctic and marine (under the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation), information communication technologies, health, researcher mobility and research infrastructure.

Horizon Europe is the research and innovation framework programme running from 2021-2027. It is the successor program to Horizon 2020. The aim of Horizon Europe is to deliver on global challenges and industrial modernisation through concerted research and innovation efforts. Contact the Trade Commissioner Service for further information on ways to collaborate with European counterparts in Horizon Europe projects. Canada is seeking enhanced engagement in this 7-year framework over its predecessor, Horizon 2020.

Canada is also associated with EUREKA through the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program. EUREKA is an international network of over 40 economies that supports international partnering in market-driven industrial innovation projects. Since Canada joined EUREKA in 2012, Canadians have become top participants, making EUREKA another important platform for collaborative innovation between Canadian and European small-medium enterprises.

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Energy

Energy represents a significant portion of the trade and investment relationship between Canada and the European Union. Current concerns over green recovery and transition, energy security and the environmental impacts of energy production and use ensure that energy remains a top area of bilateral cooperation. Canada and the EU continue to engage on energy topics through the High-Level Energy Dialogue (HLED) under the Strategic Partnership Agreement. Established to foster increased bilateral contacts and cooperation on energy, the HLED provides an annual forum to discuss energy policy issues, such as market transparency, maintaining a safe, sustainable and competitive energy supply, as well as research and development activities in this dynamic field. Current areas of focus include transitioning toward a low carbon future, addressing market barriers, and ‘clean financing’. Contact Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service for more information.

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Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries

Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food

Canada has a well-established agriculture and agri-food industry with long-standing success in the global marketplace. Canada prides itself on its systems and policies that ensure world-class production standards. The industry's best practices and well-known reputation for innovative products and high-quality food have consistently positioned it as a cornerstone of our economy and a driving force in international trade.

Canada’s agriculture and food system is a leading producer of high quality, safe products and a key driver of the country’s economic growth. Canada’s Agriculture Policy and Regulations are under the responsibility of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. On April 1, 2018 the Government of Canada launched the Canadian Agricultural Partnership - a progressive $3 billion commitment that will help chart the course for government investments in the sector over the next five years. Agriculture and Agri-food Canada’s website has a wealth of information on Canadian Agriculture and Food such as Canada’s Food Policy, market intelligence in Canada, trade statistics and more.

Canada is recognized as having one of the strongest food safety systems in the world. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of Canada’s food safety system, responding to new threats to food safety, changing consumer preferences and prevention-focused international standards. This is done through the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

Agriculture and Agri-food in the European Union

CETA has opened new agriculture and agri-food market opportunities for Canadian exporters in the EU. With almost 94 percent of EU agriculture tariffs now duty free, Canadian exporters have an advantage over competitors in countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the EU. Click here for more information on what CETA means for the Canadian agriculture and food industry and for specific sectors.

The importation into the EU of some agri-food products is subject to tariffs and/or Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs). However, CETA has significantly reduced or eliminated tariffs on agri-food and seafood exports to the EU as well as the need for Canadian food products to pass through the TRQ mechanism. Goods like pork and beef for example have a quota system in place under the CETA agreement and require the importers to apply for an import license for specific amounts of quota provided they meet the CETA Rules of Origin.

With CETA now in place, exporters can find specifics on the Tariffs that apply to their products exported to the EU on the Canadian Tariff Finder Website.

Regardless of CETA, all exports must meet the EU import requirements such labelling regulations, health certifications, and specific authorizations. Several websites provide an overview of the requirements:

Canadian exporters looking for information on the European market for Agrifood products, the CETA agreement, market intelligence, trade data and how to export agri-food products to the EU should check out the Agri-food Trade Services for Exporters webpage. For more detailed information on specific markets within Europe, please contact the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service offices.

Fisheries and Oceans

Bound by three oceans – the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic - Canada is home to the longest coastline and the largest freshwater lake system in the world. Canada has an abundance of freshwater, marine and coastal areas that are ecologically diverse and economically significant.

Canada and the EU enjoy a long-standing relationship on oceans and fisheries, as recognized and reinforced by the establishment of a Canada-EU Oceans Partnership in 2019 and the Ocean Partnership Forum launched at the 2021 Leaders’ Summit. The Oceans Partnership builds on many years of cooperation, including through regular High-Level Dialogues on Fisheries and the 2016 joint statement on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

Cooperation between Canada and the EU on fisheries also takes place in the context of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, such as the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization. Canada and the EU worked closely during Canada’s 2018 G7 presidency to advance the international oceans agenda, and in addressing micro-plastics, endorsing the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities and the Ocean Plastic Charter. Canada and the EU both signed the International Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean in 2018.

Environment and Climate Change

Canada is home to a variety of diverse ecosystems and approximately 80,000 species. In areas from climate action to biodiversity protection to air quality, Environment and Climate Change Canada works to conserve this rich natural heritage and safeguard a clean, safe and sustainable environment for current and future generations. Canada also takes action to advance environmental priorities on the global stage.

Canada and the EU have an extensive history of cooperation on environmental policies. This relationship dates back to 1975, when Canada and the European Commission signed an exchange of letters on environmental cooperation.

The Canada-EU High-Level Dialogue on Environment began in 1983, and the High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change in 2010. Both dialogues were formalized in 2017, under the Canada-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement. These Dialogues provide a forum for technical discussion and information exchange as well as identifying areas of future cooperation and coordination to enhance the Canada-EU relationship on climate and environment. Issues discussed in the High-Level Dialogue on Environment have included biodiversity, sustainable development, forests, and mercury. The High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change has focused on the importance of cooperation on pursuing greater ambition to combat climate change.

Further cooperation on trade-related environment and climate topics takes place under the Trade and Environment Chapter of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

Canada and the EU also benefit from a strong partnership for addressing environment and climate issues in multilateral fora and international organizations, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the G7/G20. Implementation of the Paris Agreement is a priority for both Canada and the EU. Together with China, Canada and the EU launched the Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA) in 2017 to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Justice and Home Affairs

Justice and Home Affairs issues such as migration, border management, and judicial and police cooperation are important areas of Canada-EU cooperation.

Migration

Migratory and refugee movements across the world present challenges and opportunities for Canada and the EU. Canada's long experience in asylum, immigration, integration, citizenship, and multiculturalism is well-known and frequently requested by European partners. While migration and asylum policies remain largely under the competence of Member States, the EU is taking important steps to foster harmonization, co-operation, as well as contributions to the Union's economic development and role in international protection.

The Mission of Canada to the EU fosters the exchange of information and best practices between Canada and the EU, and promotes joint co-operation in areas of mutual interest. Canada and the EU have similar interests and can benefit from collaboration on a range of areas such as:

The Mission of Canada to the EU also monitors key EU developments in the domain of migration and asylum. The European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament are all key actors and interlocutors for Canada in this policy area. Canada and the EU also jointly organize Migration Platform events to exchange best practices on key migration-related issues affecting Canada and Member States.

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Border Management

The Government of Canada has two main priorities in which effective and responsive border management plays a key role. One is to ensure the safety and security of Canadians. The second supports our economic competitiveness. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) strives to ensure our borders are secure against threats to Canada's safety, security and economic prosperity, and open to the movement of legitimate people and goods.

The CBSA recognizes that threats and opportunities arising from international trade growth and global migration – from drug and human trafficking to organised crime, migration crime, smuggling, terrorism and fraud – can be dealt with most effectively by working with our domestic and international partners. The CBSA works closely with other organizations based in the EU, including the World Customs Organization, DG Migration and Home Affairs, DG Taxation and Customs Union, the European Anti-Fraud Office, EUROPOL, and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX). To create a smart and secure border, we have implemented a border strategy founded on modern technology, risk management, and information sharing. A key element of our strategy is to "push our borders out" using pre-screening, information-sharing, and enforcement cooperation to lessen risk as far away from our borders as possible.

We have signed instruments with the EU to facilitate border management cooperation. These agreements represent a solid development in our bilateral relationship and will benefit our respective trading communities as well as our respective border integrity. These agreements enhance security against terrorism and cross-border criminal activity, and also increase facilitation for low-risk travellers, low-risk shipments, and trusted traders:

Judicial Cooperation

In the EU, the relevant judicial authorities of each member state cooperate on criminal issues such as organised crime, terrorism, corruption, illicit drug trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, offences against children, etc.  EU structures have also been created to enhance judicial cooperation between the member states' competent judicial authorities. Our Justice team in Brussels liaises with EU agencies in these matters and follows the work of EU institutions in criminal law policy-making. The team also provides support to national authorities requesting judicial legal assistance in (e.g.. evidence-gathering) or extradition from Canada. As Canada is a Party to the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention, it regularly participates at the Cybercrime Convention Committee meetings at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

Canada and the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states, is the continent's oldest political organization. It was created in 1949 to promote cooperation and strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Western Europe after the Second World War. It now also serves as a forum for examining a wide range of social issues such as public health and bioethical issues, intolerance and the integration of migrants, terrorism, drug trafficking and criminal activities, privacy, and the impact of new technologies.

Canada was granted official observer status with the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers in 1996. In 1997, Canadian parliamentarians were granted official observer status with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Minister Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission of the Mission of Canada to the European Union is Canada's Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe. In 2019, Canada also joined the Council of Europe’s European Commission for Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission), which supports Canada’s and the EU’s collective efforts to advance democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms across Europe and internationally. Canada had been an observer to the Venice Commission since 1991.

Doing Business in the EU

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in the European Union provides on-the-ground intelligence and practical advice on this market to help make better, timely and cost-effective decisions.

Canadian companies doing business in or with the United Kingdom (UK) may be impacted by the UK's planned departure from the EU, also known as Brexit. See Brexit – Summary information for Canadian companies. More information on exporting to the EU is included in our “Guide for Canadian Business”.

Gender Equality

The EU is an important partner for Canada in advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls internationally. Canada and the EU showed leadership in this regard by hosting the first formal Women Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Montreal in 2019. Canada’s objective to assist underrepresented groups to better access opportunities created by CETA has been advanced by the signing of the Trade and Gender recommendation with the EU at the first CETA Joint Committee meeting.

Canada is committed to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment both at home and abroad. For the Mission of Canada to the European Union, this includes mainstreaming gender into the work of the Mission and taking actions to identify and remedy gender imbalances in all day-to-day activities. This pledge sets out specific gender equality commitments and key actions for Mission management and staff.

Leadership

  • Create a cross-section gender equality committee to share best practices, disseminate information, highlight training opportunities, propose new initiatives, track and report on the progress of the gender pledge and promote gender equality across sectors.
  • Assign a senior-level gender champion to oversee the work of the Gender Equality Committee.
  • Work with partners towards the creation of an International Gender Champions hub in Brussels.

Policies and Guidelines

  • Consider how to apply GBA+ analysis to each section’s policy work, including reporting.
  • Develop a “toolkit” and guidelines for organizing inclusive events and ensuring gender-balance on panels.
  • Release a pledge from senior management and staff outlining a commitment to decline sitting on all-male panels.
  • Develop guidelines to ensure all communications adequately promote gender equality and reflect gender balance.
  • Inform all staff about policy and guidelines on department-wide gender equality policies, including on preventing and reporting sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination in the workplace.

Training

  • Ensure all staff complete the Government of Canada’s GBA+ online training course.
  • Organize a specific training session on how GBA+ analysis applies to the work of the Mission.
  • Facilitate at least one training session per year for all staff on an issue of relevance (eg. unconscious bias training, diverse panels, gender sensitivity, gender analysis frameworks and tools, intersectionality, assertiveness training), as well as specific training sessions for management and relevant groups.

Advocacy

  • Ensure that, where feasible and appropriate, all Mission advocacy events highlight gender equality, women’s empowerment and the benefits of diversity and inclusion.
  • Host at least one event per year to specifically promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • Complete a diverse and inclusive mapping of women’s organizations and other potential partners to work with on gender equality initiatives in Brussels.
  • Launch a social media campaign to promote the gender pledge and pertinent events.

Monitoring and Evaluation

  • Develop a set of indicators to track the integration of gender across relevant Mission activities.
  • Monitor and report on the gender balance of all Mission panels and events.
  • Assess levels of satisfaction and concern among all staff on gender inclusivity at work and recommend appropriate follow-up actions where necessary.

Approval

  • The gender pledge will be signed by the Ambassador and Mission Management; it will be implemented by all staff under the guidance of the gender champion and members of the Gender Equality Committee with support of the management team.
  • The Mission will review and report on its gender goals and associated action plan at the beginning of each year.
  • Mission staff will be expected to read and adhere to all internal policies and guidelines created through this initiative.

Ambassador of Canada to the European Union

Ailish Johnson Campbell - Ambassador-designate of Canada to  the European Union

Ailish Campbell (BA Hons [Political Studies], Queen’s University, 1997; MSc Econ, London School of Economics, 1998; D.Phil [International Relations], University of Oxford, 2002) joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 2002 as a trade negotiator in the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round. During her time as a federal public servant, she has held progressively senior roles in economic, finance and international policy, including at the Privy Council Office, Industry Canada and Finance Canada. She was also vice president, international and fiscal policy, at the Business Council of Canada from 2013 to 2015.

Most recently, Ms. Campbell was assistant deputy minister for international business development and chief trade commissioner of Canada from 2017 to 2020. She has been named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

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Contact information

Address

Avenue des Arts 58
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Telephone: +32 (0)2 741.0611
Fax: +32 (0)2 741.0643
Email: breu@international.gc.ca

The Mission of Canada to the EU works in close collaboration with headquarters in Ottawa. The European Union Division can be reached at +1 613-996-2727 (Main Enquiries).

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