Association agreement

Source: Europa Nu.

An association agreement is a legally binding agreement between the EU and third countries. It is one of three special types of international agreements. It is aimed to foster close relationships between the EU and countries on a wide range of topics.


Association agreements in detail

Area of application

Member states are party to each association agreement the European Union enters into with third countries. Member states are thus obligated to adhere to the provisions of association agreements.

Association agreements cover many policy areas, foremost of which is that of economic cooperation. The EU generally enters into such agreements with countries that belong to any of the following three categories:

  • countries that have a special historical bond with EU member states. Most of these are former colonies, as well as several developing countries
  • members of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA)
  • prospective members of the European Union

Adopting association agreements

The EU has a special agreement procedureĀ i with which to adopt association agreements.

To ensure the objectives laid down in an agreement are met as well as to facilitate cooperation an association council is instituted for each association agreement.


Legal framework

International agreements are based on the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TfEU).

  • instrument: part five TfEU title V (art. 216 to 219, 218 in particular)


Further information