Canada–European Union relations

Bilateral relations
Canada–European Union relations
Map indicating locations of European Union and Canada

European Union


Relations between Canada and the European Union (EU) and its forerunners date back to the 1950s. While the relationship is primarily an economic one, there are also matters of political cooperation. Canadians also use English and French — both European languages — as official and majority languages.

Two overseas territories of EU members (Greenland and Saint Pierre and Miquelon) lie adjacent to Canadian territorial waters.


Canada's relationship with Europe is a consequence of the historical connections generated by colonialism and mass European immigration to Canada. In the Middle Ages, Canada was first colonized by Vikings on the shores of Baffin Island, plus those of Newfoundland and Labrador. However, centuries later in the Modern Age, it would be mainly colonized by France and, after 1763, it formally joined the British Empire after its conquest in the Seven Years' War. In addition, it also had colonial influence from Spain in British Columbia, plus southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The United Kingdom has extremely close relations with Canada, due to its British colonial past, and both being realms of the Commonwealth. However, the United Kingdom ceased to be a European Union member state on 31 January 2020. Historically, Canada's relations with the UK and USA were usually given priority over relations with continental Europe. Nevertheless, Canada had existing ties with European countries through the Western alliance during the Second World War, the United Nations, and NATO before the creation of the European Economic Community.


The history of Canada's relations with the EU is best documented in a series of economic agreements:

In 1976, the European Economic Community (EEC) and Canada signed a Framework Agreement on Economic Co-operation, the first formal agreement of its kind between the EEC and an industrialized third country. Also in 1976 the Delegation of the European Commission to Canada opened in Ottawa.

In 1990, European and Canadian leaders adopted a Declaration on Transatlantic Relations, extending the scope of their contacts and establishing regular meetings at Summit and Ministerial level.

In 1996, a new Political Declaration on EU-Canada Relations was made at the Ottawa Summit, adopting a joint Action Plan identifying additional specific areas for co-operation.

Areas of conflict

There is an ongoing tension over the EU ban on the import of seal products. This was thought to be motivating factor in Canada's efforts to block the EU's efforts to join the Arctic Council.[1]

Canada has also had bilateral territorial disputes with EU member states (see: Turbot War, Hans Island/Territorial claims in the Arctic, and Canada–France Maritime Boundary Case).

Canada–EU Free Trade Agreement

Since as early as June 2007, the Government of Canada led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been pressuring the EU and its member countries to negotiate a Canada-EU free trade agreement[2][3] Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur supported the idea, while former Canadian trade negotiator Michael Hart called the idea "silly."[4] The Canada Europe Roundtable for Business (CERT), founded in 1999, had been a principal advocate for a free trade agreement supported by more than 100 Canadian and European chief executives. CERT was co-chaired by former Canadian trade minister Roy MacLaren and former editor of The Economist magazine Bill Emmott.[5]

In June 2009, EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton and Canadian Minister of International Trade Stockwell Day released a joint statement regarding the start of negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).[6] Minister Day stated "This first meeting represents a solid step toward a historic economic agreement between Canada and Europe. These negotiations are a priority for our government."[6]

Canada and the EU remained at odds over an EU ban on importing seal products and Canada's visa requirement for the EU citizens of the EU member states of Romania and Bulgaria.[7][8][9]

CETA has been provisionally applied since September 2017. See the article Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement for details of compromises made.

Potential EU membership

Since 2005, several European editorialists have considered that Canada could join the European Union (EU).[10] Proponents argue that, unlike the rest of countries of the Americas, the cultural and political values of Canadians and Europeans have much in common, and that Canadian membership would strengthen both sides politically and economically.[11][12] While conceding that Canada, located in Northern America, and Europe are over 3,000 km (1,900 mi) distant, being separated by the North Atlantic, proponents note that the EU already has a member outside Europe, Cyprus, that is geographically in Western Asia. In addition, Canada is the closest American sovereign country to the European continent, specifically to Northern Europe. This could become much more relevant if Greenland joined the European Union again.[13][14] The EU and Canada enjoy a very close and friendly strategic partnership. The Delegation of the EU to Canada, in close cooperation with the missions of EU countries, promotes European culture year-round through a number of well-established public diplomacy activities. These events have been effective in increasing the knowledge and understanding of the EU and its relations with Canada.[15] In 2019, Canada was proposed to join the EU's Horizon Europe scientific research initiative.[16] Furthermore, Canada is a member of the Council of the European Space Agency.[17]

In addition, CETA is possibly the farthest-reaching FTA between the EU and a third country[citation needed]. Because of the nature of CETA, some[who?] have said that it wouldn't be that far of a leap to EU membership. There have not been any polls conducted on the opinions of Europeans or Canadians regarding closer relations and EU membership. Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec would help to strengthen the Francophone bloc in the EU together with France, Belgium, and Luxembourg (EU membership may also help to curb separatist sentiments in Quebec). Canada can also bring an Anglophone bloc to the EU after Brexit. In addition, it may decrease Canadian dependence on the United States regarding trade and security. It would also easily meet the Copenhagen Criteria for EU membership. Additionally, the EU is Canada's second-largest trading partner. Canadian and EU officials have not yet commented on this.[10][18][19] Recently, the constant trade disputes with China and between the North American countries, plus the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have opened a debate about the possibility of Canada's membership to the EU.[20]


 European Union  Canada
Population 447,007,596[21] 38,436,447[22]
Area 4,324,782 km2 (1,669,808 sq mi)[23] 9,984,670 km2 (3,855,103 sq mi)
Population Density 103/km2 (268/sq mi) 3.7/km2 (9.6/sq mi)
Capital Brussels (de facto) Ottawa
Global Cities Paris, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam, Athens, Dublin, Helsinki, Warsaw, Bucharest, Lisbon, Nicosia, Budapest, Copenhagen, Sofia, Stockholm, Prague, Zagreb[citation needed] Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax, Québec City[citation needed]
Government Supranational parliamentary democracy based on the European treaties[24] Federal parliamentary democratic
constitutional monarchy
First Leader High Authority President Jean Monnet Prime Minister John Alexander Macdonald
Current Leader Council President Charles Michel
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
King Charles III
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Official languages 24 official languages, of which 3 considered "procedural" (English, French and German)[25] English and French (see Official Languages Act 1969)
Main religions 72% Christianity (48% Roman Catholicism, 12% Protestantism,
8% Eastern Orthodoxy, 4% Other Christianity),
23% non-Religious, 3% Other, 2% Islam
67.3% Christianity, 23.9% Unaffiliated, 3.2% Islam, 1.5% Hinduism, 1.4% Sikhism, 1.1% Buddhism, 1.0% Judaism
Ethnic groups Germans (ca. 80 million), French (ca. 67 million),
Italians (ca. 60 million), Spanish (ca. 47 million), Poles (ca. 46 million),
Romanians (ca. 18 million), Dutch (ca. 13 million), Greeks (ca. 11 million),
Portuguese (ca. 11 million), and others
74.3% European
14.5% Asian
5.1% Indigenous
3.4% Caribbean and Latin American
2.9% African
0.2% Oceanian
GDP (nominal) $16.477 trillion, $31,801 per capita[when?] $1.793 trillion, $50,577 per capita[when?]

Canada's foreign relations with EU member states

See also

  • flagCanada portal
  • flagEuropean Union portal
  • iconPolitics portal


  1. ^ "Canada signals new era for Arctic Council". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 15 May 2013.
  2. ^ "EU and Canada Seek to Reach Trade Agreement". The Wall Street Journal. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-10-23.
  3. ^ "Canada and Quebec Unite on EU Free Trade Accord", Paul Wells, Maclean's, July 30, 2007
  4. ^ "French push on for EU-Canada free trade".
  5. ^ "CERT - Canada Europe Round Table for Business".
  6. ^ a b "European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - EU and Canada start negotiations for economic and trade agreement".
  7. ^ "Canada-Europe trade deal risks derailment over visa spat". The Star. Toronto.
  8. ^ ENBlogger. "How Visa Restrictions Impede CETA Progress".
  9. ^ "This Country Is Threatening To Block The Canada-EU Trade Deal".
  10. ^ a b "German Papers: It's Time For Canada to Join the EU". Der Spiegel. 3 March 2005. Retrieved 26 January 2014. Canada shares the longest undefended border in the world with the United States. Their economies are deeply intertwined with hundreds of billions in trade. But this week's decision by Ottawa to reject Washington's missile defense plan shows that politically, Canadians are from Venus and Americans from Mars.
  11. ^ "Canada and Europe".
  12. ^ "Canada and the European Union".
  13. ^ "EUobserver Review 05 January 2007 (Greenland could re-join the EU)". EUobserver. 2007-01-05. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20.
  14. ^ "Greenland's exit warning to Britain". Politico. 2016-06-22.
  15. ^ "Canada and the EU". Delegation of the European Union to Canada. 2016-05-10.
  16. ^ "Canada eyes new funds and collaborations to boost international science". ScienceBusiness. 2019-06-20.
  17. ^ "Member States & Cooperating States". European Space Agency. 2021-08-12.
  18. ^ Garton Ash, Timothy (28 June 2006). "I've found a perfect new member for the EU. If only it were in Europe Canada shares nearly all the values of the new Europe - as well as the most characteristic of its weaknesses". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  19. ^ Johal, Am. "Why doesn't Canada join the European Union". Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  20. ^ "Painful Truth: Should Canada join the European Union?". BC Local News. 2020-05-15.
  21. ^ "Population on 1 January". Eurostat. European Commission. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  22. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2021-12-16). "Population estimates, quarterly". Retrieved 2022-02-27.
  23. ^ "Field Listing – Area". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on June 13, 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved 2015-01-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Frequently asked questions on languages in Europe". Retrieved 2017-06-24.

External links

  • Delegation of the European Commission to Canada
  • The EU's relations with Canada
  • Mission of Canada to the European Union
  • Canada - EU: Negotiations Towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
  • Resource for information on EU-Canada Relations from University of British Columbia
  • Trade information between EU and Canada, Animated infographic, European Parliamentary Research Service
  • v
  • t
  • e
Bilateral relations
Multilateral relations
Diplomacy and other topics
  • v
  • t
  • e
Bilateral relations
  • †= Disputed state, may not be recognised as an independent state by some or all European Union members.
Multilateral relations and initiatives
Administration and policies
Foreign and Security Policy
  • v
  • t
  • e
External Action Service
Council preparatory bodies
European Commission bodies
  • v
  • t
  • e
Union level
Provided through
TEU Article 42.3
  • v
  • t
  • e
Military operations
[Ground] force (EUFOR)
Naval force (EUNAVFOR)
Military missions
Training mission (EUTM)
Civilian missions
Police mission (EUPOL, EUPM)
Capacity building mission (EUCAP)
Border assistance mission (EUBAM)
Rule of law mission (EULEX)
Monitoring mission (EUMM)
Military advisory mission (EUMAM)
  • RCA (2015–2016)
Aviation security mission (EUAVSEC)
  • South Sudan (2013–2014)
Mission in support of the
security sector reform (EUSSR)
  • Guinea-Bissau (2008–2010)
Integrated rule of law mission (EUJUST)
  • Iraq (2015–2013)
  • Georgia (2004–2005)
Mission to provide advice and assistance
for security sector reform (EUSEC)
  • RD Congo (2005–2016)
Advisory mission (EUAM)
  • Ukraine (2014–present)
  • Iraq (2017–present)
Police advisory team (EUPAT)
  • FYROM (2005–2006)
  • AMIS EU Supporting Action (2005–2007)
  • PAMECA (2002–present)
  • Minesweeping operation in the Strait of Hormuz, (Operation Cleansweep, 1987–1988)
  • Police and customs operation with OSCE on the Danube (1993–1996)
  • Police contingent in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994–1996)
  • Multinational Advisory Police Element in Albania (MAPE, 1997–2001)
  • Demining Assistance Mission to Croatia (WEUDAM, 1999–2001)
  • General security surveillance mission in Kosovo (1998–1999)
1: Conducted by the Western European Union prior to 2003. These missions were not named using conventional prefixes such as EUFOR, EUNAVFOR etc.
  • v
  • t
  • e
Western Union (1948–1951/1954) Flag of the Western Union.svg
European Defence Community (plan that failed in 1954)
Western European Union (1954–2011) Flag of the Western European Union (1993-1995).svg Flag of the Western European Union.svg
European Union (1992–present) Flag of Europe.svg
Period before the union had defence structures (1993–1999)
European Security and Defence Policy (1999–2009)
Common Security and Defence Policy (2009–present)
  • v
  • t
  • e
Militaries of the European Union
Austrian Armed Forces

Map of Southeast Asia
Belgian Armed Forces
Bulgarian Armed Forces
Armed Forces of Croatia
Cypriot National Guard
Army of the Czech Republic
Danish Defence
Estonian Defence Forces
Finnish Defence Forces
French Armed Forces
Hellenic Armed Forces
Hungarian Defence Forces
Irish Defence Forces
Italian Armed Forces
Latvian National Armed Forces
Lithuanian Armed Forces
Luxembourg Army
Armed Forces of Malta
Netherlands Armed Forces
Polish Armed Forces
Portuguese Armed Forces
Romanian Armed Forces
Slovak Armed Forces
Slovenian Armed Forces
Spanish Armed Forces
Swedish Armed Forces
EU member states
Austria Austria
Belgium Belgium
Bulgaria Bulgaria
Croatia Croatia
Cyprus Cyprus
Czech Republic Czech Republic
Denmark Denmark
Estonia Estonia
Finland Finland
France France
Germany Germany
Greece Greece
Hungary Hungary
Republic of Ireland Ireland
Italy Italy
Latvia Latvia
Lithuania Lithuania
Luxembourg Luxembourg
Malta Malta
Netherlands Netherlands
Poland Poland
Portugal Portugal
Romania Romania
Slovakia Slovakia
Slovenia Slovenia
Spain Spain
Sweden Sweden
European Union portal · War portal