Cook Islands is a Polynesian Pacific island country. Relations between the European Union and Cook Islands are governed by the EU-ACP Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which will soon be replaced by a successor Agreement. Cook Islands and the EU work together on a number of common values, interests and challenges, such as climate change, oceans and human rights, which they address in bilateral Political Dialogues, at various ACP-EU policy dialogues, and at other multilateral levels.

Political Relations

Political Relations between the EU and Cook Islands

Cook Islands consists of 15 islands and has a population of approximately 13,000. As a self-governing part of the Realm of New Zealand, Niue is not a UN member state.

The islands participate in policy dialogues within the ACP-EU institutions from senior officials to parliamentary and ministerial levels.

The EU and Cook Islands hold local Political Dialogues to address common interests and challenges, such as climate change, oceans, human rights, development cooperation, economic and trade cooperation. 

Cook Islands and the EU are engaged in the Pacific region through the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and Pacific Community (SPC). The Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) coordinates the ACP-EU policy dialogues.

As Cook Islands citizens hold New Zealand passports they benefit from the European Visa-Exempt Program which allows for short-stay visits to the Schengen area without the need for a visa.

Cook Islands has been supported by the EU and its Member States through the Team Europe response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trade and Economic Relations

Trade and Economic Relations Between the EU and Cook Islands

Cook Islands is a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), categorised as a High-income country. The economy is mainly driven by tourism and public infrastructure spending.

The islands have one of the highest GDPs in the region. The country is heavily dependent on tourism (60% of GDP), agriculture (5.1% of GDP, but employing more than 25% of the working population), and fisheries. Cook Islands’ main exports are black pearls, copra and citrus fruit.

Cook Islands benefits from the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) regime which reduces or removes import duties from many Cook Islands’ export products to the EU. Cook Islands also benefits from the EU’s ‘Pacific Regional Integration Support Programme (PRISE)’, which was adopted to support trade and private sector development.

Trade between the EU and Cook Islands is very limited. However, as part of the ACP Pacific group, Cook Islands can join the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) the EU has with Fiji, PNG, Samoa and Solomon Islands, if it wishes to export its products duty-free quota-free to the EU market — the world’s largest single market.

Cook Islands and the EU have a Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA), with a Protocol which is currently under renewal negotiations.