The Partnership Instrument, advancing the EU's core interests

The Partnership Instrument, advancing the EU's core interests

Through the Partnership Instrument, the EU cooperates with partners around the world to promote its strategic interests and visibility and tackle global challenges. The Partnership Instrument funds activities that carry EU agendas with partner countries forward, translating political commitments into concrete results.

The Partnership Instrument was created in 2014 by Regulation (EU) No 234/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing a Partnership Instrument for cooperation with third countries. The Partnership Instrument had a budget of €960 million over the period 2014-20.

The Partnership Instrument is an instrument specifically designed to pursue EU strategic interests globally. The instrument is of worldwide application and serves to promote cooperation and alliance-building on issues of EU or mutual interest and challenges of global concern, on a peer-to-peer basis. It operates in support of EU foreign policy objectives under the framework defined by the objectives of EU external action under the Treaty, the Global Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy (the 'Global Strategy'), the Commission's six political priorities, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Public diplomacy is a key strand of work to increase EU’s visibility.

A fast and flexible foreign policy tool widening the scope of the EU's cooperation abroad

The Partnership Instrument offers a different approach to established models of cooperation, including development aid, by promoting policy cooperation with countries of strategic interest to the EU. In particular, it allows the EU to establish a wider political dialogue with emerging partners. It also supports the EU's relations with countries that are no longer eligible for bilateral development aid.

The Partnership Instrument supports EU foreign policy both to pursue mid- to long-term objectives (stand-alone projects), as well as to react fast to new, urgent political needs. This is done through the so-called Policy Support Facility (PSF) and the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange, drawing on EU Member States experts.

Projecting EU’s interests abroad

The Partnership Instrument serves to build alliances and leverage the EU’s influence abroad. Its budget amounts to some €140 million a year. The Partnership Instrument allows the EU to weigh in on policy making in third countries, taking the EU interest as the starting point. Actions are designed with the Commission services concerned and with the European External Action Service, linking internal and external EU policies in practice. Actions may cover any area of EU interest. They do not need formal agreement from the partner country, which makes it possible to make use, in a flexible manner, of windows of opportunity as these present themselves. The Partnership Instrument supports (trade) negotiations, policy dialogues and political agreements with countries across the globe. It helps creating a level playing field and identifying business opportunities for EU operators. The Instrument provides seed money for EU and third country actors to develop and implement mutually beneficial solutions to common challenges or challenges of global concern. It contributes to building alliances and helps to underpin the multilateral, rules-based global order with the United Nations at its core. Public diplomacy is a key strand of this work. 

The following cross-cutting issues are integrated or mainstreamed in the Multiannual Indicative Programme: 

  • multilateralism (building alliances), contributing to a global order based on international law; 
  • EU principles and values (democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality, including gender equality, and solidarity); 
  • resilience; 
  • innovation

Facts and figures

Partnership Instrument World Map