The European Union (EU) is Canada’s second largest trading partner after the United States. The bilateral relationship between the EU and Canada was formalized in 1976 by the Framework Agreement for Commercial and Economic Cooperation, the first such agreement between the then European Community and an industrialized country.
The scope of the relationship was greatly expanded by the adoption in 1990 of the Transatlantic Declaration on EU-Canada Relations, and in 1996 of the EU-Canada Joint Action Plan. Another qualitative impetus was given in 1998 with a commitment to launch the EU-Canada trade initiative, which emphasized mutual recognition, services, government procurement, intellectual property rights, competition issues, cultural cooperation and business-to-business contacts.
Twice a year, political leaders from the EU and Canada gather for a summit meeting to conduct a comprehensive review of their bilateral relationship, adopt joint conclusions on how further to strengthen and deepen their ties, and develop new ways to meet the challenges of the world economy in the 21st century. At the most recent summit meeting (Ottawa, December 2002), the leaders instructed the trade ministers of the EU and Canada to design a new type of forward-looking, wide-ranging bilateral trade and investment enhancement agreement to address, among other matters, new generation issues and outstanding barriers. Such an agreement, in combination with the anticipated results of the World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Agenda, would have much more to offer than a traditional free trade agreement.
Cultural partnerships between the EU countries and Canada include the European Union Film Festival, in Ottawa and Vancouver, and the EU-Canada Young Journalist Award established by the Delegation of the European Commission and the Embassies of the EU member states.
For more information, please consult the website The European Union in the World of the European Commission or the website of the Delegation of the European Commission in Canada.