EU-Canada: Champions of multilateral coordination


The EU and Canada are trusted partners. Together we have been advancing our common values, support the international rules-based order and sustainably rebuild our economies post COVID-19. This week, Canadian Prime Minister and EU leaders will discuss a wide range of issues, including COVID-19 response and recovery; fighting climate change and protecting the environment; trade, technology and innovation; and promoting democratic values, peace and security.


The success and extent of our relationship is reflected across the board and our policy objectives are closely aligned in a wide range of areas, including environment and climate change, trade, the Arctic, foreign policy and digitalisation. Above all, the strong people-to-people ties and shared values will remain at the heart of our enduring history of collaboration.

This year - marking the 45th anniversary of the Delegation of the EU to Canada and almost five years after the signature of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) as well as the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) - we will seize the opportunity of the EU-Canada summit, to be held on 14 June in Brussels to revive the strength of the transatlantic partnership and advance the multilateral agenda.

COVID-19 response

The pandemic has exposed the fragility of the global system - and has highlighted the need to step up a coordinated international response. The EU and Canada have been leading by example as champions of multilateral coordination, in full solidarity with our most vulnerable partners. Together, we managed to keep vital supply chains open, support the World Health Organization (WHO), lead international efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and, through the COVAX global initiative, help ensure that safe vaccines are available for everyone who wants them. The only way we can tackle the pandemic is through international collaboration and coordination.

The EU has also played a vital role in ensuring a consistent and steady stream of vaccine supplies to Canada. As of late May 2021, more than 80 percent of vaccines distributed in Canada came from EU-based plants. The EU has been a reliable and leading global provider of vaccines, exporting half of its production – with Canada as the third destination country.

Economic recovery

The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) can contribute significantly to the economic recovery from the pandemic, placing Canada and the EU in a stronger position to weather the economic downturn. The EU and Canada will continue to build on momentum, while maintaining open and secure supply chains. Advancing the implementation of CETA is essential to the post COVID-19 economic recovery on both sides of the Atlantic.

Since CETA provisional application came into effect in September 2017, bilateral trade between the EU27 and Canada has increased by 27% for goods and 39% for services as compared to the pre-CETA situation. The positive CETA effect is even clearer when it comes to services. Bilateral trade in services jumped by 30% in 2018, compared to the pre-CETA average, and by 35% in 2019. In 2019, the EU and Canada traded EUR 35.5 billion (CAD $53.6 billion) worth of services, nearly EUR 10 billion (CAD $15 billion) more than in the last pre-CETA year - 2016.

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Green transition

COVID-19 is an exceptionally large-scale human tragedy. Science tells us that this is just a warning compared to the existential risks for our civilization associated with global warming, the loss of biodiversity (including in the oceans) and other global challenges in the years to come.

The EU and Canada share the objective of net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. To this end, the EU and Canada are calling on countries to increase their targets of GHG emission reductions ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021. The EU and Canada are already working in sync to achieve these shared objectives through robust post-COVID green recovery packages and regular bilateral High-Level Dialogues on Climate, Energy, Environment, and Oceans. In multilateral fora, EU and Canada are also working in tandem – for instance through joint multilateral initiatives, such as the Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA), the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the International Conference on Chemicals Management.

The development of clean technologies, sustainable energy sources, including hydrogen or wind and wave power, and the reduction of pollution via carbon capture or recycling are at the core of our joint efforts. For instance, the EU and Canada have recently organised a series of workshops on clean technology that brought together innovators and users, industry associations, international business development experts, and government representatives. The workshops highlighted how CETA can help achieve sustainable development and net-zero emissions objectives through clean technology trade, innovation and investment.

Ensuring the security of supply chains for the minerals and metals critical to the transition to a climate-neutral and digital economy is a priority for both Canada and the EU. This is why they have agreed to establish a Canada-EU Strategic Partnership on Raw Materials (Strategic Partnership) within the mandate of the CETA, with a focus on the integration, resilience and competitiveness of Canada-EU raw material value chains; science, technology and innovation collaboration; and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria and standards.

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Promoting democracy and peace

The promotion of peace, security and democracy represents an important pillar of the EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). The EU and Canada regularly hold High-Level Dialogues on Security and Defence, and the EU’s first Military Advisor/Defence Attaché to Canada was accredited in early 2020.

The EU and Canada recognise the considerable threat that foreign disinformation, information manipulation and interference pose to our democracy, society and security. Together they foster close cooperation through the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) under the Canadian Secretariat and the EU Rapid Alert System on Disinformation (RAS), to ensure effective information exchange, identify synergies and avoid duplication of efforts. Internationally, they both support further development of our common understanding of the nature of the threat and enhance our collective capabilities to analyse and ultimately respond to it.

Since 2003, Canada has contributed to several EU civilian and military missions in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and Canadian experts currently participate in EU police advisory missions in the West Bank and in Ukraine and in the EU capacity-building mission in Mali.

Significantly, the EU also recently welcomed the invitation to Canada, alongside the U.S. and Norway, to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) project on Military Mobility. The initiative, led by the Netherlands, aims to facilitate transport logistics for the movement of troops across Europe, which also plays a crucial role for NATO.

People-to-people contacts

Erasmus+, the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, funds academic mobility and cooperation projects involving partners from “Programme Countries” and “Partner Countries” throughout the world. It supports activities that correspond with the EU’s priorities for cooperation policy with partner countries, including Canada. Since 2015, the EU has funded more than 1,700 Canadian students and staff to participate in academic mobility programmes. As of 2014, over 224 Canadian researchers have benefited from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, which promote collaboration between academic, scientific and business communities in Europe and beyond.

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