Policy areas

  • Foreign policy

    Foreign policy

    The EU maintains diplomatic relations with nearly all countries in the world. It has strategic partnerships with key international players, is deeply engaged with emerging powers around the globe and has developed close relations, through political cooperation and economic integration, with most of the immediate neighbours.

  • European neighbourhood policy

    European neighbourhood policy

    Aims at stability and region-wide cooperation, in political, economic, and security related terms. The EU's own stability is built on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This policy will continue to make the case for these universal values.

  • International cooperation and development

    International cooperation and development

    Through its development cooperation policy, the EU contributes to reduce poverty in the world, to ensure sustainable economic, social and environmental development. It promotes democracy, the rule of law, good governance and the respect of human rights.

  • Humanitarian aid, civil protection

    Humanitarian aid, civil protection

    The EU provides needs-based humanitarian aid with particular attention to the most vulnerable victims. It coordinates European civil protection assistance during disasters that occur worldwide.

  • Trade policy

    Trade policy

    EU trade policy is shaped in a way that reflects EU values and interests. The EU helps businesses make the most of global opportunities to ensure prosperity, fair competitiveness and investment.

  • Security and defence

    Security and defence

    European common security and defence policy aims to strengthen the EU's ability to prevent and manage crises through the development of civilian and military capabilities.

  • EU enlargement

    EU enlargement

    Investing in peace, security and stability in Europe: the prospect of EU membership has a powerful transformative effect on the countries in the process, embedding positive democratic, political, economic and societal change.



The political crisis in Ukraine, the situation in Syria, the  unrest in the Middle East have made it clear that the EU needs a stronger common foreign policy. The EU has a wide range of 'soft power' tools – including trade policy and development aid, coordinated by Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Beyond these tools, those national governments who wish should also pool their defence capabilities, enabling them to participate in joint EU missions – as well as to avoid duplication of programmes and to save money.

Besides foreign policy tools, the European Commission is committed to deliver relief aid to the most vulnerable people caught up in natural or man-made disasters. Assistance is provided via its humanitarian and civil protection tools.