The European Union and the United Nations, capable of great things together


The United Nation’s Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said it clearly two months ago: “Humanity faces a stark and urgent choice: breakdown or breakthrough”, he wrote in Our Common Agenda report. No doubt that the European Union has made its choice for a breakthrough, through an inclusive and effective multilateralism and reconfirms it while marking, today, the 76th Anniversary of the UN.


The European Union and the United Nations are natural partners in promoting a multilateral and rules-based global governance system. Together, we respond to global crises, threats and challenges that require cooperation and coordination based on universal principles and rules. The EU and the UN champion the need to protect the universality and indivisibility of human rights, the fundamental values of democracy and the rule of law.

“Multilateralism with the United Nations at its core is the most effective way to contribute to global peace, security, human rights and prosperity. It is a pillar of the European Union’s external action”, said the High Representative and Vice President of the EU Commission, Josep Borrell, in his statement to mark the UN Day.

“The very raison d’être of the UN and multilateral cooperation is the belief that we are capable of great things when we work together”, Borrell stressed in a post on his blog dedicated to the opening of the 76th General Assembly, last September.

For the EU, working in partnership is part of our DNA. We have clear strategic priorities on issues that no country can face alone: peace and security, human rights and the rule of law, sustainable development, public health, or climate. Now, we need to advance these priorities multilaterally in a strategic approach, to ensure a safer world and a sustainable, inclusive global recovery, as UN Secretary General Guterres pointed out in the Agenda containing his vision for on the future of global cooperation through an inclusive, networked, and effective multilateralism.

“We owe this to the next generation who will have to deal with the implication of our action or inaction about the future of the UN, the future of the planet – their future”, said HRVP Borrell.

Solutions to increasingly complex global challenges can only come about through more effective multilateral governance and rules-based international cooperation, with the UN at its core. The EU is determined to work towards a reinvigorated and new multilateralism and further strengthen the partnership with the UN, including through the newly established regular EU-UN Leaders’ meetings.

The UN process on Our Common Agenda provides a unique opportunity to transform and upgrade the UN system geared towards these objectives and the EU is determined to play a leading role in its implementation with a view to improving global governance.

The EU and UN have joined forces against COVID-19:

  • We share a strong commitment to support those most in need, leaving no-one behind. The EU and its Member States have mobilised €46 billion to support the most vulnerable in the fight against the pandemic with immediate humanitarian needs. We are supporting partner countries through a “Team Europe” approach.
  • We are working closely with the WHO to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics as a global public good. No region of the world is safe until we are all safe. Viruses know no borders, and the EU takes on its global responsibility. We are among the biggest contributors to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX). We are also working with partners around the world towards an international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response in order to strengthen health systems and the international preparedness for – and response to – future pandemics.
  • The EU supports the UN’s Building back better agenda and is working with partners to set the stage for a sustainable and green recovery in line with the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal.

The EU is an indispensable partner for the UN in restoring and promoting peace, security and stability worldwide:

  • The EU puts its full weight behind the UN Secretary-General’s calls for a global ceasefire and action on Women, Peace and Security.
  • All of the EU's currently deployed crisis management missions and operations cooperate closely with the UN family. The EU is supporting some of the largest UN peace operations on the ground in Africa and operating under a UN Security Council mandate, for example in the Mediterranean Sea and the Western Balkans.

The EU and its Member States are the largest financial contributors to the UN system:

  • The EU MS’ contributions account for about a quarter of both the regular and the peacekeeping budgets.
  • In the last 10 years, the Commission alone committed EUR 20 billion to the UN Secretariat and its agencies, funds and programmes.

See also