PAKISTAN and the European Union’s relations established in 1962. The first cooperation which was initiated between the EU and Pakistan was in 1976. It was followed by a formal Commercial Cooperation Agreement in 1986. However, the 2004 Cooperation Agreement paved the way for closer relations. Since the start of this cooperation, the Commission has committed more than €500 million to various projects and programs in Pakistan. Currently, there are 48 bilateral and multilateral treaties between the EU and Pakistan, of which 47 have entered into force.
There are also over 86 projects currently in progress, covering a wide range of sectors. The relationship is moving from what has traditionally been a more trade oriented relationship to a political and strategic one. Pakistan-EU bilateral trade relations are governed by the Cooperation Agreement from 2004. Enhancing bilateral trade and investment is also part of the EU-Pakistan 5-year Engagement Plan from 2012. Pakistan is a major beneficiary of the trading opportunities offered by the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). From 1 January 2014 Pakistan benefits from generous tariff preferences under the GSP+ arrangement aiming to support sustainable development and good governance. In order to maintain GSP+ Pakistan has to keep ratification and effectively implement 27 core international conventions on human and labour right, environmental protection and good governance.
Pakistan has also developed strategic relationship with major EU States such as UK and France. UK is cooperating with Pakistan’s police force on counter-terrorism including operational cooperation and capacity building. Likewise, Pakistan and France are cooperating in the field of defence and our Navy and Air Force have been the beneficiaries of the French defence equipment. The institutional structure of EU limits enhanced political and strategic relations with non-EU member states but EU can play a role within its institutional structure and can initiate cooperation in several other areas to further expand existing trade relations. It can add more content aimed at improving health facilities and education in Pakistan and can also enhance investment in infrastructure development for sustained economic growth.
The EU-Pakistan Cooperation Agreement entered into force in 2004 by reinforcing political dialogue and Joint Commissions that meet on a regular basis. European Union is not only the economic power house of the world it excels in globalgovernance and human rights. EU- Pakistan relations are multi-layered. It is Pakistan’s largest trading partner and has always provided Pakistan with humanitarian assistance at the time of natural calamities. Like any traditional relationship, this association also needs tobe further bolstered in wake of global pressure. On one side Pakistan should focus on its commitments towards rule of law, transparency, encourage participation, accountability and sustainability. Pakistan should also focus on meeting the requirements relating to labour laws and environmental conventions. The business community of Pakistan needs to explore the European market and exploit it to its maximum potential. Keeping in view the volume of tradebetween India and EU, Pakistan still lags behind greatly as its exports have captured only 0.33% of EU markets. Also, there are issues of illegal immigrations to Europe; Pakistan and EU should work out an institutionalized solution to the problem. This will help in mitigating adverse effects of anti-immigration policies of some European countries.