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Trade

Southern Neighbourhood

EU trade relations with Southern Neighbourhood. Facts, figures and latest developments.

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Southern Neighbourhood
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Trade policy

The long-term objective of the trade partnership between the EU and its Southern Neighbourhood is to promote economic integration in the Euro-Mediterranean area, removing barriers to trade and investment between both the EU and the Southern Neighbourhood countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine*, Syria, Tunisia), and between the Southern Neighbourhood countries themselves.

A network of Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements established free trade areas between the EU and most of its Southern Neighbours (with the exception of Syria and Libya), and essentially cover trade in goods. Negotiations to create Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) have been launched between the EU and Morocco, and between the EU and Tunisia.

In 2021, under the new EU Trade Policy Review, the EU has announced a new sustainable investment initiative for interested partners in the Southern Neighbourhood and Africa.

Southern Neighbourhood: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine*, Syria, Tunisia

Trade picture

  • In 2020, the region represented 4.6% of total EU external trade.
  • Total trade in goods between the EU and the Southern Neighbourhood countries amounted to €149.4 billion.
  • The EU’s imports were worth €58.0 billion, whereas its exports totalled €91.4 billion.

The EU and Southern Neighbourhood

The EU established its privileged partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood in 1995 with the launch of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership at the Barcelona Conference, aiming to establish an area of peace, stability, economic prosperity, upholding democratic values and human rights.

As a continuation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the Union for the Mediterranean was launched In 2008. This inter-governmental partnership promotes cooperation and dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean region and brings together all 27 EU Member States and 15 countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine*, Syria – suspended, Tunisia and Turkey; Libya is an observer. Since 2012, the EU and Jordan hold the joint presidency of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Trade relations between the EU and its Southern Neighbours are managed at the bilateral level through the free trade areas established under the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements and essentially cover trade in goods. Nearly all countries have concluded Association Agreements with the EU, except for Libya and Syria.

CountryStatusDate signedEntry into ForceReference
AlgeriaSignedApril 2002September 2005OJ L 265
EgyptSignedJune 2001June 2004OJ L 304
IsraelSignedNov 1995June 2000OJ L 147
JordanSignedNov 1997May 2002OJ L 129/02
LebanonSignedJune 2002April 2006OJ L 143/06
MoroccoSignedFeb 1996March 2000OJ L 70/00
PalestineSignedFeb 1997Interim Agreement July 1997OJ L 187/97
SyriaInitialled (December 2008)   
TunisiaSignedJuly 1995March 1998OJ L 97/98

On 10 November 2020, the trade ministers of the Union for the Mediterranean convened for the 11th Trade Ministerial Conference. In their joint statement they called for the strengthening of trade ties as a crucial element for regional economic recovery, and launched three new initiatives to further facilitate and increase trade and investment flows.

The 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process in November 2020 was an opportunity to reflect on the EU’s strategic partnership with its Southern Neighbourhood in light of the political, socioeconomic, financial and environmental challenges exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to reassess the EU’s partnership with the region. This reflection resulted in a Joint Communication by the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on ‘A renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood – A new Agenda for the Mediterranean’ and the annexed ‘Economic and Investment Plan for the Southern Neighbours’ in February 2021.

Also in February 2021, under the new EU Trade Policy Review, the EU announced a new sustainable investment initiative for interested partners in the Southern Neighbourhood and Africa.

Deepening economic integration between the Southern Neighbours is an essential factor for the socio-economic development of the region. In 2004, Egypt Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia signed the Agadir Agreement. The agreement committed signatory parties to removing all tariffs on trade between one another, and to harmonise their legislation on standards and customs procedures. The Agadir Agreement entered into force in July 2006, and an Agadir Technical Unit in Amman ensures its implementation. Lebanon and Palestine joined the Agreement in 2020.

However, the regional economic integration between Southern Mediterranean countries is still limited: intra-regional trade is a small fraction of the countries’ total trade, representing one of the lowest levels of regional economic integration in the world.

More information on the cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood
In 2021, the European Commission published the Ex-Post Evaluation of Trade Chapters of the Six Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements with the EU’s Southern Neighbours: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia. The evaluation’s main objective was to assess the effects of trade chapters and propose recommendations for further enhancing economic integration in the Euro-Mediterranean area.

Committees and Dialogues

The EU and Southern Neighbourhood meet regularly to discuss issues and best practices and oversee the proper functioning of the agreement.

Trading with Southern Neighbourhood

* This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.

Exporters' stories

Galletas Gullón is one of Europe's leading biscuit manufacturers and among the leading food groups in Spain. Founded in 1892, the company now exports its biscuits to more than 100 countries around the world. The EU-Algeria trade agreement entered into force in 2005, lowering tariff barriers.