Relations between Canada and the European Union (EU) and its forerunners date back to the 1950s. While the relationship is primarily an economic one, there are also matters of political cooperation. In addition, Canada and the EU members have similar forms of government, and Canadians speak European languages (English and French are official and majority languages). Canada had achieved full independence from the United Kingdom following the Patriation in 1982 but maintains numerous constitutional ties with its former host nation. They share the same head of state (Elizabeth II), same systems of government (the Westminster system), and a similar culture. Between the province of Quebec and France, they speak the same language (French), the majority of residents of Quebec are of French descent, and ties between that province and France are close. Although the UK is no longer a member of the EU since 2020, Canada's strong bilateral relations with France (an EU member) helps bring Canada diplomatically closer to the union.
Canada's relationship with Europe is a consequence of the historical connections generated by colonialism and mass European immigration to Canada. Canada was first colonized by Norse Vikings on the shores of Baffin Island plus those of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Middle Ages. However, centuries later in the Modern Age, it would be mainly colonized by France and, after 1763, it formally joined the British Empire after its conquest in the Seven Years' War. In addition, it also had colonial influence from Spain in British Columbia plus southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The United Kingdom has extremely close relations with Canada, due to its British colonial past, and both being realms of the Commonwealth. Historically, Canada's relations with the UK and USA were usually given priority over relations with continental Europe. Nevertheless, Canada had existing ties with European countries through the Western alliance during the Second World War, the United Nations, and NATO before the creation of the European Economic Community.
The history of Canada's relations with the EU is best documented in a series of economic agreements:
In 1976 the European Economic Community (EEC) and Canada signed a Framework Agreement on Economic Co-operation, the first formal agreement of its kind between the EEC and an industrialized third country. Also in 1976 the Delegation of the European Commission to Canada opened in Ottawa.
In 1990 European and Canadian leaders adopted a Declaration on Transatlantic Relations, extending the scope of their contacts and establishing regular meetings at Summit and Ministerial level.
In 1996 a new Political Declaration on EU-Canada Relations was made at the Ottawa Summit, adopting a joint Action Plan identifying additional specific areas for co-operation.
Since as early as June 2007, the Government of Canada led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been pressuring the EU and its member countries to negotiate a Canada-EU free trade agreement Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur supported the idea, while former Canadian trade negotiator Michael Hart called the idea "silly."  The Canada Europe Roundtable for Business (CERT), founded in 1999, had been a principal advocate for a free trade agreement supported by more than 100 Canadian and European chief executives. CERT was co-chaired by former Canadian trade minister Roy MacLaren and former editor of The Economist magazine Bill Emmott.
In June 2009, EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton and Canadian Minister of International Trade Stockwell Day released a joint statement regarding the start of negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Minister Day stated "This first meeting represents a solid step toward a historic economic agreement between Canada and Europe. These negotiations are a priority for our government."
CETA has been provisionally applied since September 2017. See the article Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement for details of compromises made.
It has been proposed as early as 2005 that Canada could join the European Union. Proponents argue that the cultural and political values of Canadians and Europeans have much in common unlike the rest of the American countries, and that Canadian membership would strengthen both sides politically and economically. While conceding that Canada, located in North America, and Europe are over 3,000 km (1,900 mi) distant, being separated by the North Atlantic, proponents note that the EU already has a member, Cyprus, that is geographically outside Europe. In addition, Canada is the closest American sovereign country to the European continent, specifically to Northern Europe. This fact can be much more relevant if Greenland joins the European Union again. In 2019, Canada was proposed to join the EU's Horizon Europe scientific research initiative.
In addition, CETA is possibly the farthest-reaching FTA between the EU and a foreign country. Because of the nature of CETA, some[who?] have said that it wouldn't be that far of a leap to EU membership. There have not been any polls conducted on the opinions of Europeans or Canadians regarding closer relations and EU membership. The province of Quebec and francophone minorities in New Brunswick and Manitoba would help to strengthen the Francophone bloc in the EU, with Francophone nations such as France, Belgium and Luxembourg likely to support Canadian membership. EU membership may also help to curb separatist sentiments in Quebec. Canada can also bring an English/Anglophone bloc to the EU after Brexit. In addition, it may decrease Canadian dependence on the United States regarding trade and security. It would also easily meet the Copenhagen Criteria for EU membership. Additionally, the EU is Canada's second-largest trading partner. Canadian and EU officials have not yet commented on this. Recently, the constant trade disputes with China and between the North American countries, plus the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have opened a debate about the possibility of Canada's membership to the EU.
|Area||4,324,782 km2 (1,669,808 sq mi)||9,984,670 km2 (3,855,103 sq mi)|
|Population Density||103/km² (268/sq mi)||3.7/km2 (9.6/sq mi)|
|Capital||Brussels (de facto)||Ottawa|
|Global Cities||Paris, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam, Athens, Dublin, Helsinki, Warsaw, Bucharest, Lisbon, Nicosia, Budapest, Copenhagen, Sofia, Stockholm, Prague, Zagreb||Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax, Québec City|
|Government||Supranational parliamentary democracy based on the European treaties||Federal parliamentary democratic|
|First Leader||High Authority President Jean Monnet||Prime Minister John Alexander Macdonald|
|Current Leader||Council President Charles Michel
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
|Queen Elizabeth II|
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
|Official languages||24 official languages, of which 3 considered "procedural" (English, French and German)||English and French|
|Main Religions||72% Christianity (48% Roman Catholicism, 12% Protestantism,
8% Eastern Orthodoxy, 4% Other Christianity),
23% non-Religious, 3% Other, 2% Islam
|67.3% Christianity, 23.9% Unaffiliated, 3.2% Islam, 1.5% Hinduism, 1.4% Sikhism, 1.1% Buddhism, 1.0% Judaism|
|Ethnic groups||Germans (ca. 80 million), French (ca. 67 million),
Italians (ca. 60 million), Spanish (ca. 47 million), Poles (ca. 46 million),
Romanians (ca. 18 million), Dutch (ca. 13 million), Greeks (ca. 11 million),
Portuguese (ca. 11 million), and others
3.4% Caribbean and Latin American
|GDP (nominal)||$16.477 trillion, $31,801 per capita||$1.793 trillion, $50,577 per capita|
Canada shares the longest undefended border in the world with the United States. Their economies are deeply intertwined with hundreds of billions in trade. But this week's decision by Ottawa to reject Washington's missile defense plan shows that politically, Canadians are from Venus and Americans from Mars.