Skip to main content
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
News article17 July 2018Service for Foreign Policy Instruments

EU deepens economic and strategic partnership with Japan

The European Commission has approved five new projects in Japan as part of the Annual Action Programme (AAP) 2018 of the EU's Partnership Instrument adopted on 4 July.

The projects, ranging from support to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) to be signed at the EU-Japan Summit on 17 July 2018, to food safety, reduction of plastics, and public and cultural diplomacy activities, will aim to deepen even further the close cooperation between Japan and the EU.

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement to deliver on its promises

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership (EPA), concluded in December 2017, holds great promises. It is estimated that the EPA will create 420,000 additional jobs in the EU alone, expand the EU’s economy by 0.8% and increase exports with Japan, the EU’s second-biggest trading partner in Asia, by 32.7%. Through the Partnership Instrument, the EU will ensure that the EPA delivers on its promises. To this end, regular consultation will be held between companies, business associations and other stakeholders both from the EU and Japan, business associations and Japanese institutional stakeholders. The € 1 million project will identify and, if necessary, engage with Japanese authorities to eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade. Through cooperation with the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation (CIC), the EU will ensure that companies trading with Japan will reap the full benefits of the EPA by tailored step-by-step guidance, policy analysis, legal advice and progress reports on the agreement.

Policy dialogues paving the way to the Strategic Partnership Agreement

The EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) aims to achieve greater alignment of the EU and Japan on the global stage. Ahead of the full implementation of the SPA, the Partnership Instrument supports a wide range of policy dialogues falling within the scope of the SPA, including on climate change, environment, agriculture through concrete assistance and technical expertise. To exchange best practices and to intensify cooperation on common political and security challenges in a volatile geopolitical environment, the € 2 million project will fund a large number of opportunities for dialogue, including conferences, workshops and visits, and provide legal analysis.

Opening up opportunities for EU businesses through regulatory dialogues on food safety

An outbreak of a serious animal disease could potentially stop all livestock exports from the EU to Japan, thus seriously hitting the EU's agricultural sector. This action will create space for a regulatory dialogue between EU and Japan on food safety and phytosanitary regulation. Seminars and expert-level visits will bring together senior-level representatives and technical experts as well as food safety agency representatives to thoroughly review food safety and phytosanitary schemes in the EU and Japan. This will help EU businesses to better access the Japanese food market and ensure the sustainability of food trade. The Partnership Instrument will also address sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, two of the most common non-tariff barriers to trade for the agricultural and food industry. In addition, handbooks and guides for EU businesses will improve the understanding of regulatory requirements for fruit and vegetable imports into Japan.

The EU and Japan join forces to reduce plastic waste and marine litter

Plastic waste threatens our biodiversity, the sustainability of our oceans and our food chain. Asia is home to some of the most waste-producing countries in the world, as almost one-half of all plastics in the world's oceans originates from Asian rivers. In the context of the EU Plastic Strategy, the EU will team up with international partners in Asia to steer the transition to sustainable consumption and production of plastic. In Japan, the dominant position of waste incineration hampers the development of recycling industries. However, Japan has also much to offer in terms of resource efficient policies. Joint efforts by the Agence Française d’Expertise Technique Internationale (AFETI) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) will create spaces for bilateral policy dialogues to exchange best practices on energy efficiency, preventing marine litter and increasing recycling rates. In addition, workshops as well as legislative and technical assistance will be provided by EU Chambers of Commerce to support sustainable designs for plastic-containing products.

The EU steps up its engagement with civil society in Japan

Linking up to the successful “Japan Social Justice Initiative” project funded by the Partnership Instrument in 2015, public diplomacy activities in Japan will be expanded to improve the understanding of the EU in Japan. The project, as part of the EU's global public and cultural diplomacy programme, will be implemented via two main strands of action. Jean Monnet Activities in the field of academic cooperation will be supported through research grants on EU-related subjects, teaching posts for university professors and senior lecturers specialising in EU studies as well as additional funding for debates, research networks and academic exchange platforms on EU integration. To promote fundamental rights, Japanese civil society organisations will be supported to hold roundtables and public debates on the topic.


The EU's Partnership Instrument helps to enhance the EU's strategic political partnerships by building relationships with key partners and supporting policy priorities, in line with the EU Global Strategy. The full AAP 2018 is available here.

For More Information:


Publication date
17 July 2018
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments