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UK Mission to the United Nations

New York

London 17:42, 02 Jan 2013
New York 12:42, 02 Jan 2013
Last updated at 22:16 (UK time) 29 Aug 2011

EU at the UN

UN Photo/Evan Schneider

President of European Commission meets UN Secretary General

EU composition at the UN

The UN is an international organisation.  All EU member states are also members of the UN. In New York, the EU works within the following structure:

  • an EU delegation who, under the Lisbon Treaty, share responsibility for appropriate day-to-day EU coordination and may speak for the EU in many areas of UN activity, when the EU member states have agreed they can do so
  • a six-month rotating Presidency held by a member state, which share responsible for coordination and representation with the EU delegation.
  • the European Commission contributes to this coordination, especially in areas such as development, environment and humanitarian aid. The Commission represents the European Community in areas of Community competence such as trade, fisheries and agriculture.

EU coordination at the UN

The EU coordinates closely at the UN in the six main committees of the General Assembly and its subordinate bodies, and in ECOSOC and its subordinate functional commissions. The EU has also spoken with one voice in the follow-up to all the major conferences held since the beginning of the 1990s.  

EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy

This close coordination has been furthered by establishment of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). CFSP aims, amongst other things, to develop EU common positions intended to preserve peace and international security, promote international co-operation, and develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law. Member states are required to uphold these common EU positions in international organisations and international conferences. As such, within the General Assembly and related fora, the impact of the EU as a whole is greater, reflecting the combined and reinforcing weight of the member states and the EU Institutions.   EU activity at the UN is co-ordinated with meetings and discussions in Brussels.  

Security Council

The Lisbon Treaty makes particular provision for those organisations and bodies where only some EU states are members. Members of the UN Security Council which are also members of the EU undertake, under the provisions of Article 34, to keep other EU Member States fully informed. Also, member states which are permanent members of the Security Council “will, in the execution of their functions, ensure the defence of the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter”. Where appropriate and agreed by EU member states, the EU Delegation may make statements on behalf of the European Union when the UN Security Council meets in open session.

Financial contribution

The EU is the biggest aid donor in the world and its participation in official development assistance (ODA) is constantly growing. The EU ODA results exceeded expectations in 2006, amounting to EUR 48 billion, which represents an ODA/GNI (gross national income) ratio of 0.42% and exceeds the target of 0.39% set for 2006.  As regards the beneficiaries of the assistance, the Member States of the EU-15 already allocate at least 0.15% of their GNI to the least-developed countries (LDC) or intend to reach this level of assistance by 2010. Almost half the EU aid is intended for Africa. In addition, the EU has decided to allocate over half the aid promised on top of the ODA volumes each year to the continent of Africa.

At the European Council meeting on 16/17 June 2005, member states agreed to commit to 0.56% ODA (as a percentage of Gross National Income) by 2010, and 0.7% by 2015. 50% of this will go to Africa.

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