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Environmental cooperation with other countries

The EU works with candidate and potential candidate countries, neighbourhood countries, and other strategic partners to achieve common environmental goals.

EU enlargement and environmental policy

The enlargement process is an opportunity for candidates and potential candidates for EU membership to align with the EU’s environmental acquis – the collection of all EU environmental rules. The prospective of membership offers a framework for development and provides concrete targets to be achieved. By their date of accession, candidate countries must be able to effectively apply all EU legislation and policy. 

During the pre-accession period, the European Commission works with the candidate countries and potential candidates to assist them in adapting their environmental legislation and upgrading their implementation and enforcement capacities.

Annual progress reports show the efforts made per country to align with EU rules in all areas. Chapter 27 of each report focuses on the environment.

See more about EU enlargement policy.

Neighbourhood countries

The EU and its neighbours share some common environmental challenges, including pollution or biodiversity loss, which have transboundary effects. The EU works in partnership with neighbouring countries to address bilateral, regional and global environmental challenges. This is paramount to creating lasting, sustainable change that benefits all.

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was created in 2004 to offer the EU's neighbours a privileged relationship with a mutual commitment to common values.

It comprises the Eastern Partnership (Ukraine, Belarus, Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) and the Southern Neighbourhood (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia). Both include a clear environment priority given our shared environmental challenges.

The EU is also a Party to the Barcelona Convention to protect the marine and coastal environment in the Mediterranean.

Initiatives such as the EU4Environment – Green Economy in Eastern Partner Countries, the EU4 EMBLAS and the European Union Water Initiative Plus highlight the EU’s involvement and commitment in creating sustainable change across all territories shared with its neighbours. Moreover, projects such as the Water and Environment Support, which runs until April 2023, focus on environmental issues in the Mediterranean neighborhood.  

Industrialised countries and emerging economies

Europe’s partnerships with countries overseas further strengthen the commitment to jointly tackle global environmental challenges that threaten the future of our planet. The EU has forged strategic partnerships with the following countries: Canada, Japan, South Korea, USA, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa. For more specific information on actions/agreements, see:  

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