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Canada–European Union relations


Canada–European Union relations

Canadian-EU 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 primarily an economic relationship, there are matters of political cooperation as well. In addition, the European Union and Canada have similar cultures, and similar forms of government, and Canadians speak European languages (French and English are official and majority languages). And through the United Kingdom, a European Union member, they share the same head of state, same systems of government (The Westminster System), and a similar culture between Anglophone Canada and the UK. Between the province Quebéc and France, they speak the same language (French), the majority of residents of Quebéc are of French descent, and ties between the province and France are close.


  • History 1
    • Agreements 1.1
  • Areas of conflict 2
  • Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement Proposal 3
  • Potential EU Membership 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Canada's relationship with Europe is an outgrowth of the historic connections spawned by colonialism and mass European immigration to Canada. Canada was first settled by the French, and after 1763 was formally added to the British Empire after its capture in the Seven Years' War.

The United Kingdom has extremely close relations with Canada, due to its British colonial past and both being realms of the Commonwealth. The UK is a member of the EU.

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-EU Free Trade Agreement Proposal

Since as early as June 2007, the Government of Canada led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper have been pressuring the EU and its member countries to negotiate a Canada-EU free trade agreement[2][3] Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur has 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, has been a principal advocate for a free trade agreement and is supported by more than 100 Canadian and European chief executives. CERT is co-Chaired by former Canadian trade minister Roy MacLaren, and Bill Emmott, former Editor of The Economist magazine [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]

But Canada and EU remain 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]

Potential EU Membership

It has been speculated as early on as 2005 that Canada could—some say should—join the European Union. Proponents argue that the cultural and political values of Canadians and Europeans have much in common, and that Canadian membership would strengthen both sides politically and economically. While conceding that Canada and Europe are over 3,000 km (1,900 mi) distant,[1] being separated by the North Atlantic, proponents note that the EU already has a member, Cyprus, that is geographically outside Europe.

In addition, CETA is possibly the farthest-reaching FTA between the EU and a foreign country. Because of the nature of CETA, some 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. Anglophone nations in the EU, such as the UK and Ireland would likely support Canadian membership, and it might decrease Eurosceptic attitudes in the UK while strengthening the Anglophone bloc in the EU. Furthermore, the province of Quebéc would help to strengthen the Francophone bloc in the EU, with Francophone nations such as France, Luxembourg and Belgium likely to support Canadian membership. EU membership may also help to curb separatist sentiments in Quebec. 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, and with EU membership, it could become the first-largest. Canadian and EU officials have not yet commented on this.[10][11][12][13]

See also


  1. ^ The nearest EU member state to Canada (excluding the Portuguese mid-ocean archipelago of the Azores) is Ireland. According to the Distance Measurement Tool of Google Maps, the shortest distance from Canada (Cape Spear) to the Irish coast (Dingle Peninsula) is 3,025 km (1,880 mi). The shortest distance to the Iberian and French coasts, respectively, is 3,384 km (2,103 mi) (at Cabo Touriñán) and 3,505 km (2,178 mi) (near Pointe de Corsen).


  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", United Press International
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "EU and Canada start negotiations for economic and trade agreement"
  7. ^ "Canada-Europe trade deal risks derailment over visa spat". The Star (Toronto). 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Johal, Am. "Why doesn't Canada join the European Union". Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "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. 
  13. ^ "Canada applies to join EU". Angularities. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 

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
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