This page provides an outline of the relations between the European Union (EU) and Pakistan in areas such as political, economic and trade relations, governance, rural development and human rights:

EU-Pakistan relations are redefined by the Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) singed between two sides in 2019 with broader dimensions identified for a mutual relationship. Under SEP, the EU-Pakistan relations also cover political and security cooperation besides trade and development assistance. The EU remains the main trading partner of Pakistan and the largest export destination for its exports. EU is also a major development cooperation provider for Pakistan.

Political relations

The EU and Pakistan are important political partners. The Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan represents the EU on a range of issues including development cooperation, trade, humanitarian assistance, security and counter terrorism, energy, environment, health, transport, migration and climate change.

Political and security relations are getting stronger, something which is underscored by the EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan 2019.

An EU-Pakistan Joint Commission meets annually to review the progress of the agreement.

See the Presentation of the EU-Pakistan Relations.

EU support and actions to contain COVID-19

European Union has been at the forefront of the global efforts to contain the spread of the Covid19 pandemic. To assist Pakistan, the European Union directed €150 million (26 billion PKR) to address the short and medium term consequences of the epidemic in the country.

EU and its Member States contributed over €2.2 billion, including €1 billion from the EU budget, for the COVAX Facility to help secure 1.3 billion doses of vaccination. This comes in addition to national contributions by the EU Member States.  One out of three vaccines delivered by COVAX has been possible through the Team Europe support.

To ensure timely and equal distribution of the vaccine EU and its Member States as Team Europe collaborated with Pakistan Government, WHO, GAVI, UNICEF as well as other international health organisations to address the Covid19 pandemic. EU supported COVAX facility has already delivered millions of vaccine doses to around 60 countries worldwide. The EU and its Member States are engaged simultaneously in vaccinating their population, producing and exporting vaccines on a large scale, and financially contributing to COVAX Facility with €2.2 billion. 

The first consignment of 1,238,400 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility reached Islamabad on 8 May 2021. This shipment is to be followed by further supplies of the vaccine later on. COVAX Facility aims to supply Pakistan with enough doses to vaccinate 20% of the population depending on availability. The 2.47 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 will be used to immunize about 1.24 million high-risk people of Pakistan against the Coronavirus.

Humanitarian aid

Since 2009, the EU has provided Pakistan with €565 million. Relief items are also being channelled to victims of flood and severe weather. 

In 2019, the EU continued to support people affected by conflict and those suffering from malnutrition and food insecurity, as well as Afghan refugees in the country. It offers:  

  • Access to safe drinking water.
  • Sanitation facilities.
  • Shelter.
  • Healthcare.
  • Protection to conflict-displaced families.
  • Education. 

To find out more about EU aid activities in Pakistan, please read this.  

Economic and Trade relations

Economic relations

The EU supports Pakistan’s integration into the global economy. This is being achieved by:

  • Furthering bilateral trade, promoting direct investment, supporting institution building, and defending human rights, including the implementation of international labour standards.

The EU also supports the Pakistan Government’s ongoing economic reform agenda in consultation with the international financial institutions. In addition, the EU is planning to expand its dialogue and cooperation with Pakistan in relation to energy issues.

Trade relations

The EU is by far the biggest export destination for Pakistani products - about 1/3rd of its exports reach the EU market. 

Pakistan’s exports to the EU grew by more than 64% since the granting of the GSP+ status Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in 2014. In 2019, Pakistani exports to the EU were worth €7.49 billion. This represents almost 30% of Pakistan's exports globally. This is about twice the exports to the USA and about 3 times exports to China.

Pakistan's exports to the EU are heavily dependent on textile and clothing products, which account for 76% of all exports.  Many more products could be exported to the EU under the GSP+ preferences. A more diverse export base, in particular in value-added products would allow Pakistan to multiply its benefit of GSP+.

The EU continuously monitors GSP+ beneficiary countries’ effective implementation of the 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance. This monitoring includes exchanges of information, dialogue and visits and involves various stakeholders, including civil society.

The Commission publishes a report on the implementation of GSP every two years on the progress made by the GSP+ beneficiary countries in implementing the 27 international conventions.

Report for 2018-2019 and its country annex:

Joint Staff Working Document: The EU Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance ('GSP+') assessment of Pakistan covering the period 2018 – 2019.

On 10/02/2020, the European Commission released its third biennial report on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) is the EU trade policy’s main tool to support developing countries and their efforts to pursue sustainable development. The GSP removes import duties from products coming into the EU from developing countries. This helps developing countries to alleviate poverty and create jobs, while at the same time abiding by international values and principles.

 2019 Biennial Report on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)

The EU is the third-largest source of Pakistan’s imports after China (29%), and the UAE (14%) accounting for around 9% of the total imports in 2018. The main imports from the EU are machinery and appliances, transport equipment and chemical and pharmaceuticals. 

Development cooperation

Along with its member countries, the EU provides Pakistan with about €700 million per year for development and humanitarian assistance.

Among other issues, the EU supports Pakistan in its efforts to tackle poverty, increase literacy, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat major diseases, and ensure environmental sustainability.

Science and technology

The EU and Pakistan are committed to cooperating in science and technology.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020).

The Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan concluded a partnership with the Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) to promote the Horizon 2020 programme in Pakistan.

Support for specific issues

A new Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) details the EU cooperation priorities with Pakistan for the years 2021-2027.  The assistance provided through the EU Delegation focuses on delivering long-term support for

Rural Development, Education and Governance. (See entries below for more details).

Rural development

Through the previous  MIP 2014-2020, the EU contributed more than €340 million to rural development in Pakistan.

The funding programme focused on boosting economic growth and livelihoods in some of Pakistan’s poorest areas.

Efforts will therefore be made to: Widen access to basic public services, Reduce social and economic inequality, Increase income-generating activities, and Contribute to building peace and stability in areas affected by the unrest. 

Education and training

The MIP 2014-2020 provided €210 million to improve Pakistan’s education and training systems.

Specific objectives include:

  • Improving access to – and completion of – basic and secondary education for children, while reducing gender and regional differences in provision.
  • Improving the quality of education by introducing better teaching and materials; assessment systems and school management practices will also be upgraded.
  • Improving the productivity and employability of workers by introducing relevant technical and vocational training programmes.

Governance and human rights

About €97 million were allocated through the MIP 2014-2020 to bolster democracy in Pakistan.

Specific objectives are to:

  • Strengthen democratic institutions and electoral processes – fighting corruption, improving legislation and greater scrutiny of government.
  • Support the decentralisation of public administrations – improving the management of public finances and service delivery.
  • Improve security and the rule of law – protecting people’s human rights, making law enforcement, legal and judicial systems more accountable.
  • Promote Human Rights – strengthen the capacity of the key institutions and civil society to promote, monitor and enhance awareness of Human Rights.