What are associate members


A particularly close economic cooperation relationship

The association is a particularly close economic cooperation between countries that do not belong to the EU (third countries) and the European Union. The aim is as unhindered trade as possible and the abolition of restrictions on the movement of goods. More recent association agreements often also contain provisions on political dialogue and close cooperation in culture, science and education.

Although the association goes beyond purely trade agreements, it does not mean full participation and no voting rights in EU decision-making bodies. In principle, an association does not justify any claim to EU membership. In the Europe agreements concluded with the reforming states in Central and Eastern Europe, however, the EU committed itself to the goal of these countries joining.

The EU Association Agreements can have very different objectives:

For Greece the Association Agreement of 1961 was the precursor to accession (1981). It aimed to bring the country closer to the EU economically. Another association agreement with the prospect of later accession was signed with Turkey in 1964. In the case of Malta and Cyprus, the association agreements at the beginning of the 1970s were initially intended to enable a customs union. From today's perspective, they made it easier for these states to join later.

The Europe Agreement with Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania went far beyond purely economic and trade cooperation. The EU membership of the associated partners was expressly named as the goal. For the first time, political dialogue and cultural cooperation were also part of EU association agreements. In addition, the agreements envisaged the gradual establishment of free trade zones over a ten-year period. The associated states should be prepared for accession to the European Union, in particular to the European internal market, through a “structured dialogue”. To this end, the specialist ministers of the member states met regularly with their respective departmental colleagues from the reform states of Central and Eastern Europe. The common foreign and security policy and the internal and judicial policy of the European Union were also the subject of cooperation.

The association agreements with the Mediterranean third countries within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. They provide for similar agreements as the Europe Agreements, but do not contain any prospect of accession. Association agreements have now been concluded with Tunisia, Israel, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and Algeria. The EU has concluded an interim association agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Negotiations are ongoing with Syria and Lebanon, and other Mediterranean countries will follow.

The EU has partnership and cooperation agreements with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan closed. There is an interim agreement with Uzbekistan. These agreements are not association agreements. But they provide for an institutionalized political dialogue. The countries concerned are not granted any more far-reaching concessions in terms of trade than other third countries.

This partnership and cooperation agreement was partly developed further with the EU neighborhood policy introduced in 2004. As part of the EU neighborhood policy, the EU works with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. There is a special strategic partnership with Russia that is not always easy.

The EU neighborhood policy is not only dedicated to the European states, but also to the Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Syria and Tunisia). It is thus further developing the Barcelona Process that began in 1995. In 2007, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a Mediterranean Union and thus triggered a discussion about what the future of the EU neighborhood policy in Europe and the Mediterranean could look like.

The Agreement Yaounde I and II (1964 and 1971), the four Lomé Convention since 1975 as well as that Cotonou Agreement 2000, 2005 with 71 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP countries) have a development background. The reason for the conclusion of these agreements was the introduction of the common external tariff of the EC states. The agreements prevented disruptions in traditionally close economic relations with these countries.

The Cotonou Agreement
In February 2000, negotiations on the new partnership agreement between the European Union and the ACP states, which succeeded four Lomé agreements, were successfully concluded. This was an important signal, especially after the failed WTO conference in Seattle in December 1999. The agreement is named after the capital of Benin, Cotonou. Important elements

Human rights: Respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law are essential elements of the agreement. The EU can interrupt cooperation with countries where these principles are persistently violated.

Good governance: The principle of good governance is a fundamental element in the treaty. The aim is to avoid and prevent corruption, not only when using funds from the European Development Fund (EDF), but also with other public funds.

Poverty alleviation is the core objective of the new agreement in line with the goal of sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy.

Changed trading regulations: During the realignment of trade relations between the EU and the ACP countries, the rules of the WTO and development orientation were linked: The ACP countries can now take advantage of a longer transition period until their markets are fully opened.

EDF budget: Financing is becoming more flexible and efficient. The 9th EDF was provided with a total amount of up to 13.8 billion euros for the period 2000 to 2005 (the German contribution key remains unchanged at 23.36 percent).

additional Information to Cotonou

2005: EU and ACP states renew their strategic agreement
The EU renewed its strategic agreement with the disadvantaged African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in 2005. This 20-year contract defines the framework for relations between the EU and 76 ACP countries and has to be adjusted every five years. The main goal remains the reduction of poverty.

The agreement now also contains a political part. At the request of the EU, cooperation in the fight against international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was added. There is also a clause on the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The EU relies on political dialogue to safeguard human rights and the rule of law.

The renewed agreement has yet to be ratified by the parties involved. The following factors such as inflation, growth and the effect of the EU enlargement by ten or twelve countries have been adjusted. From 2000 to 2006 the Community spent 14.2 billion euros on development aid.