The European Union has a number of relationships with nations that are not formally part of the Union. According to the European Union's official site, and a statement by Commissioner Günter Verheugen, the aim is to have a ring of countries, sharing EU's democratic ideals and joining them in further integration without necessarily becoming full member states.
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was created to allow European countries to partake in free trade with the European Communities (later European Union), without becoming full members. Most of the countries initially in EFTA have since joined the EU itself, so only four remain outside, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
The European Economic Area (EEA) agreement allows Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to have access to the EU single market. The four basic freedoms (goods, services, people and capital) apply. However, some restrictions on fisheries and agriculture take place.
There are countries which, though not official members of the Eurozone, still use the Euro as legal or de facto currency, through official agreements with the EU. These are European microstates which are largely economically dependent on their larger Eurozone-member neighbours.
Some other countries unilateraly decided to use the Euro without having currently a formal agreement with the EU.
Certain countries are in customs union with the EU. These are:
According to the European Union's official site, the objective of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is to share the benefits of the EU’s 2004 enlargement with neighbouring countries. It is also designed to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours. The vision is that of a ring of countries, drawn into further integration, but without necessarily becoming full members of the European Union. The policy was first outlined by the European Commission on March 2003. The countries covered include all of the Mediterranean shores of Africa and Asia, as well as the European CIS states (with the exception of Russia and Kazakhstan) in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. Russia insisted on the creation of the four EU-Russia Common Spaces instead of ENP participation. The Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry has expressed interest in the ENP Some MEPs also discussed Kazakhstan's inclusion in the ENP
The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership or Barcelona Process is a wide framework of political, economic and social relations between member states of the EU and countries of the Southern Mediterranean. It was initiated on 27-28 November 1995 through a conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Barcelona. Besides the 27 member states of the European Union, the remaining "Mediterranean Partners" are all other Mediterranean countries without Libya (witch has had 'observer status' since 1999). Since the establishment of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument in 2007 (see below) the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership initiative will become fully a part of the wider European Neighbourhood Policy. The Association Agreements signed with the Mediterranean states aim at establishing of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area.
CARDS, short for "Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation", was established on 5 December 2000 through Council regulation Number 2666/2000.
Its scope is the Western Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and the Republic of Macedonia). The programme's wider objective is to support those nations in the Stabilisation and Association Process.
The TACIS programme, established in 1991, is a programme of technical assistance that supports the process of transition to market economies for the 12 CIS countries. Until 2003, Mongolia was also included in the programme but is now covered by the ALA programme.
The MEDA programme is the principal financial instrument for the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, offering technical and financial support measures to accompany the reform of economic and social structures in the Mediterranean partner countries.
The first MEDA programme was established for the period of 1995-1999. On November 2000, a new regulation established MEDA II for the period of 2000-2006.
ACP stands for "Africa, Caribbean and Pacific". The programme applies to 71 countries, among which are all African nations with the exception of the Mediterranean countries of Northern Africa (covered by the MEDA programme above). The ACP is currently covered by the Cotonou Agreement, which replaces the Lomé Convention.
External links: ACP Countries at official EU site
ALA, standing for "Asia and Latin America" is a programme for financial aid and cooperation with those regions.
The table is sorted by GDP (PPP) per capita to show the relative economic development level of the different countries. Reference values for the EU average, highest and lowest are included.
|Third country|| GDP (PPP)|
| GDP (PPP)|
| GDP (nominal)|
|European Economic Area:|
|European Free Trade Association:|
|Unique Noncommercial Economy|
|European Neighbourhood Policy:|