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European Union Overview

Comprised of 28 Member States with a total population of over 509 million and a GDP of over $21.7 trillion in 2016, the EU is the world’s second single common market, foreign investor and trader. The EU is also incredibly diverse, holding within its borders both large and small national economies as well as advanced and emerging markets. The EU offers Canadian companies a means to diversify their international activities and can act as a stepping stone to markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Nineteen EU member states have adopted the Euro the EU’s common currency and more countries may join in the coming years. As one of the world’s major currencies, the euro provides stability for Canadian investors, reduces transaction costs and allows for more transparent pricing.

Canada-European Union Commercial Relationship


In 2016, Canada was the EU28's tenth most important trading partner. In 2016, Canada’s exports to the EU totalled $40.0 billion and merchandise imported from the EU amounted to $60.9 billion. Canada’s trade deficit with the EU narrowed from $23.7 billion in 2015 to $20.9 billion in 2016. Canadian exports to the EU28 increased 5.8% in 2016 over 2015.


In 2016, Canada exported $17.3 billion in services (16.9% of its total services exports) to the EU and imported $24.1 billion in services from the EU.


The amount of EU FDI in Canada has been gradually rising since 2010. As a collective partner, the EU is currently Canada’s second largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) with a known stock valued at $246.9 billion at the end of 2016 or 29.9% of FDI stocks in Canada. At the end of 2016, the known stock of Canada's direct investment in the EU totalled $232.1 billion, or roughly one-fifth of Canadian Direct Investment Abroad (CDIA).

Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA)

On October 30, 2016, Canada and the EU signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, also known as CETA. The Agreement entered provisional application on September 21 2017, creating vast new business and people-to-people opportunities across the EU and Canada, opening new markets for our exporters, generating high-quality jobs for our workers, and forging closer links between our economies. This marked a historic moment for both Canada and the EU, and a major milestone in the evolution of our relationship.

Science & Technology Cooperation

The EU is a key partner in science, technology and innovation for Canada and a major source of new technologies, helping to further Canada's goal of becoming a world-leading knowledge-based economy.

The Canada-EU Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee (JSTCC) is the overarching mechanism responsible for cooperation between Canada and the EU.  It operates under the Canada-EU Science and Technology Agreement (1996) and meets periodically to establish key priorities under areas of mutual interest and to review progress.  Leading thematic areas for Canada-EU cooperation include: marine, arctic, health, ICT, agriculture, aeronautics, space and researcher mobility.

The most recent JSTCC meeting occurred on June 14, 2016 in Brussels (next meeting will be in November 2017 in Ottawa). The priority areas discussed included health, aeronautics, agriculture (relating to food security and sustainable agriculture), ICT, marine and Arctic, which have become very active following the implementation of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation in 2013. Security as it relates to first responders and public safety was added as a new priority area for research collaboration, and both sides committed to explore adding climate change research as another priority for cooperation.

2016 marked an important milestone for the Canada-EU partnership, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Canada-EU S&T Agreement, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Canada-EU Framework Partnership Agreement.

Under the European Union’s “Framework Programmes”, funding has been made available to support research priorities undertaken in the European Research Area.  The current Program, the 8th such initiative has been branded as Horizon 2020 and has a budget of €79 billion (2014-2020) with international cooperation, including by third countries, being one of its essential elements. It is based on three pillars: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges.

In order to support collaboration and information dissemination about opportunities under Horizon 2020, Canada and the EU have established a joint project called ERA-Can +. Its mandate is to encourage and facilitate Canadian researchers and research organizations to collaborate with their European counterparts under Horizon 2020.

Canada also has identified and nominated a number of National Contact Points (NCPs), for key sectors that can provide targeted advice and support. NCP contact information as well as additional information on Horizon 2020 opportunities can be found on the ERA-Can website. Canadian researchers and research organizations can also contact Canadian Trade Commissioners and Science and Technology Counsellors abroad, who focus on innovation, science, and technology. Details on all calls under Horizon 2020 can be found on the Participant Portal from the EU website:

Trade Commissioner Services in the European Union

Although part of a common market, each EU Member State has its own unique characteristics. While a pan-European strategy is useful, market entry strategies must be tailored on a country-by-country basis and Trade Commissioner Service’s resources by country can be accessed by following the links below:

European Union
Czech Republic
Estonia (via Latvia)
Lithuania (via Latvia)
Luxembourg (via Belgium)
Malta (via Italy)
Slovak Republic
Slovenia (via Hungary)
United Kingdom


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