A European Union Association Agreement (for short, Association Agreement or AA) is a treaty between the European Union (EU), its Member States and a non-EU country that creates a framework for co-operation between them. Areas frequently covered by such agreements include the development of political, trade, social, cultural and security links. The legal base for the conclusion of the association agreements is provided by art. 217 TFEU (former art. 310 and art. 238 TEC).
Association Agreements are broad framework agreements between the EU (or its predecessors) and its member states, and an external state which governs their bilateral relations. The provision for an association agreement was included in the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, as a means to enable co-operation of the Community with the United Kingdom, which had retreated from the treaty negotiations at the Messina Conference of 1955. According to the European External Action Service, for an agreement to be classified as an AA, it must meet several criteria:
1. The legal basis for their conclusion is Article 217 TFEU (former art. 310 and art. 238 TEC)
2. Intention to establish close economic and political cooperation (more than simple cooperation);7. In a large number of cases, the association agreement replaces a cooperation agreement thereby intensifying the relations between the partners.
3. Creation of paritary bodies for the management of the cooperation, competent to take decisions that bind the contracting parties;
4. Offering Most Favoured Nation treatment;
5. Providing for a privileged relationship between the EC and its partner;
6. Since 1995 the clause on the respect of human rights and democratic principles is systematically included and constitutes an essential element of the agreement;— European External Action Service
The EU typically concludes Association Agreements in exchange for commitments to political, economic, trade, or human rights reform in a country. In exchange, the country may be offered tariff-free access to some or all EU markets (industrial goods, agricultural products, etc.), and financial or technical assistance. Most recently signed AAs also include a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and the third country.
AAs go by a variety of names (Euro-Mediterranean Agreement Establishing an Association, Europe Agreement Establishing an Association, etc.) and need not necessarily even have the word "Association" in the title. Some AAs contain a promise of future EU membership for the contracting state.
In recent history, such agreements have been signed as part of two EU policies: Stabilisation and Association Process (SAp) and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The countries of the western Balkans (official candidates Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, and potential candidates Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo[a]) are covered by SAp and the EU signs "Stabilisation and Association Agreements" (SAA) with them. The countries of the Mediterranean (Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia) and Eastern Europe neighbours (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, but excluding Russia that insists on creating four EU-Russia Common Spaces) are covered by ENP. Seven of the Mediterranean states have a "Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association" (EMAA) in force, while another has an interim EMAA in force. Several of the Eastern Partnership states are ratifying or negotiating AAs.
Both the SAA and ENP AP are based mostly on the EU's acquis communautaire and its promulgation in the co-operating states legislation. Of course the depth of the harmonisation is less than for full EU members and some policy areas may not be covered (depending on the particular state).
|a.||^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.|
In certain areas, the Agreement is also designed to bring Armenian law gradually closer to the EU acquis. However, it does not go as far as to establish an association between the EU and Armenia.