Social and environmental sustainability is a global public good – EEAS

The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the European Union’s diplomatic service. Since 2011, the EEAS carries out the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy to promote peace, prosperity, security, and the interests of Europeans across the globe.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs shapes the standing of the European Union on the global stage.
All over the world, the European External Action Service, in coordination with  the European Union institutions, addresses EU foreign policy priorities, including civilian and military planning and crisis response.
The European Union has Special Representatives in different countries and regions of the world.
Contact the European External Action Service, ask general questions on the European Union or get information on visiting the EEAS.
The EU maintains diplomatic relations with nearly all countries in the world and undertakes a range of actions with strategic partners, key international players, and emerging and developing powers. 
The Diplomatic Representations play a vital role in representing the EU and its citizens around the globe and building networks and partnerships.
Since the first CSDP missions and operations were launched back in 2003, the EU has undertaken over 37 overseas operations, using civilian and military missions and operations in several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. As of today, there are 21 ongoing CSDP missions and operations, 12 of which are civilian, and 9 military.
Election observation missions (EOMs) provide a comprehensive, independent and impartial assessment of an electoral process according to international standards for democratic elections. The EU is a worldwide recognised credible actor in international election observation. Since 2000, the EU has deployed over 160 EOMs in more than 60 countries.
Since 2006, the EU High Representative has led diplomatic efforts between the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and Iran, which led to the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program (JCPOA) in Vienna on 14 July 2015. The JCPOA is designed to ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful and provides for the comprehensive lifting of UN, EU and US nuclear-related sanctions.
All over the world, the EU works to prevent and resolve conflicts, to support resilient democracies, to promote human rights and sustainable development, to fight climate change, and to contribute to a rules-based global order.
In an increasingly interconnected world, Europe’s security starts abroad. European citizens expect and deserve to live in a safe and stable environment. In the face of increased global instability, the EU needs to take more responsibility for its own security and increase its capacity to act autonomously.
Crises can affect EU citizens, staff and interests outside of the EU. To protect them, the EU is strengthening its response to security and consular crises. The EEAS Crisis Response Centre contributes to this work.
In a shifting geopolitical landscape, the EU has remained a strong defender of human rights. New geopolitical rivalries only serve to underline its role as a reliable and stable partner, and a champion of the rules-based international order.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment, but also diversity in the broadest sense of the word, are political objectives and priorities of the EU in all of its internal and external policy.
Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world. The EU promotes the approach of the European Green Deal of a just transition towards sustainable, resource-efficient and climate neutral economies and energy systems.
In today’s world marked by major geopolitical and economic power shifts, multilateralism is still the most effective means to govern global relations in a way that benefits all. The EU stands committed to a renewed multilateralism fit for the 21st century.
Migration is a global phenomenon presenting a unique set of challenges while offering substantial benefits to countries of origin and destination as well as migrants. The EU works to ensure that migration takes place in a safe, regular and sustainable manner.
The EU prioritises development and stability in the wider region and neighbourhood, working in close partnership with its neighbours to the East and South and supporting the reforms required by countries that want to become EU members.
The European Union together with its Member States is the world’s leading humanitarian donor. New challenges, same principles, humanitarian aid is a key pillar of the EU’s external action and an important part of its ability to project its values globally.
The European Union, more than ever, needs to work closely with partners to face the global challenges and build together a safer, greener, more prosperous and equal world.
Cultural diversity is one of the emblems of the EU and its Member States and a tool to strengthen cultural relations beyond our borders, to connect people worldwide, to share values, to improve international relations and to learn from each other’s practice. 
Since 2015, the EU has significantly improved its capacity to tackle Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI), protecting the EU’s democratic processes, security and citizens.
The Global Gateway is a new European strategy to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport sectors and to strengthen health, education and research systems across the world.
Digital technologies have brought new opportunities into the lives of people around the world. They have also become key competitive parameters that can shift the balance of power. The goal of EU Digital Diplomacy is to secure the EU global role in the digital world, to protect its strategic interests and to promote its dynamic, human-centric regulatory framework for an inclusive digital transformation.
In its trade relations, the EU promotes a sustainable growth model as defined by the European Green Deal and the European Digital Strategy, which can help the recovery from the COVID-19 economic crisis.
Restrictive measures, or sanctions, are one of the EU’s tools to promote the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). 
Science and technology play an increasing role in the geopolitical arena.
Building bridges between the European Union and the rest of the world
International days are key moments on the global calendar dedicated to celebrating, raising awareness and taking action on pressing issues that affect us all.  From honouring human rights to championing environmental sustainability, these days unite organisations, communities, and individuals worldwide for change – one celebration, one cause, one action at a time.
For media inquiries, please contact the EEAS press team
Subscribe to our Press Alerts & Newsletters
Campaign pages are created around specific topic and actions.
Job opportunities, grants and tenders at the EEAS, EU Delegations and Missions and Operations.
Looking for an exciting job in the field of external relations, foreign affairs and security? Find our vacancies
Interested in one of the tenders? See how to apply for an EEAS call for tenders.
Grants can be awarded as donations to third parties that are engaged in external aid activities. Grants are managed by EuropeAid (DEVCO) or DG Near, the EEAS does not manage any grant.
The EU supports projects worldwide covering a range of sectors.
Every day, events are organised worldwide by the European Union Delegations and its partners.
HRVP Blog – Recently the EU adopted various laws on responsible business practices to ensure that products and services sold in the EU respect international human rights and labour norms and do not harm the environment. This is what European consumers have been demanding. However, these rules often have significant implications for our global partners. We must factor in their views and help them put in place the structures necessary to comply with EU rules.
Today, the new EU directive on corporate sustainability due diligence has been officially published. Member States now have until July 2026 to adopt these rules into their own national law. Together with the forced labour regulation and the deforestation-free products regulation, it is part of a series of recent EU laws aimed at ensuring that companies doing business in the EU do not harm the environment or rely on inadequate labour standards or human rights violations. Such rules address a strong demand from European citizens who want to be sure that our companies source responsibly and that the products and services they consume are produced in a way that avoids any such adverse impacts, both within the EU and in other parts of the world.
Recent EU laws aimed at ensuring that companies doing business in the EU do not harm the environment or rely on inadequate labour standards or human rights violations.
Binding rules in these domains are also a recognition that previous attempts to achieve these objectives through self-regulation or voluntary codes of conducts have proven insufficient. Perhaps more than any other event, the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh eleven years ago – killing more than 1,100 factory workers in the garment industry – was a wakeup call for many European consumers. It was a reminder that cheap consumer products often come at the expense of health and safety of workers and communities in other parts of the world and led to calls to hold businesses to account.
Nevertheless, not all of the sustainability rules the EU has recently put in place have been universally welcomed. Inside the EU, some companies voiced fears that social and environmental safeguards would increase bureaucracy and lead to a competitive disadvantage because of rising costs. Outside the EU, those very same rules are sometimes perceived as protectionist measures that would make trade with the EU more difficult or even impossible, or as indirectly restraining their independent policymaking. 
The deforestation regulation is one such example. Its rationale is simple: to ensure that products sold in the European Union do not contribute to the destruction of forests around the world. This is crucial to protect biodiversity and fight climate change globally. However, in some parts of the world it has not been welcomed. I vividly remember a ministerial meeting we held as a video conference during the pandemic. One of my interlocutors was sitting in front of a large banner reading: “No to the deforestation regulation”.  Why? Because of concerns about how to trace products and verify their deforestation-free origin. This can be complicated and could have a negative impact on the business of smallholder farmers. To gain acceptance for our laws – inside and outside the EU – we have to become better at explaining their rationale, tailor-make our legislation with global consequences in mind, and we need to invest more in helping our partners to put in place the structures necessary to comply with these rules.
To gain acceptance for our laws – inside and outside the EU – we have to become better at explaining their rationale and tailor-make our legislation with global consequences in mind.
Regarding the new corporate sustainability due diligence directive, the most frequent concern voiced by our trading partners, particularly from developing economies, is that of an additional burden on their businesses and that it is not for the EU to decide on production policies in their countries. They also argue that their companies already need to undergo several audits every year to comply with requirements stemming from various different sustainability standards.
However, we based the new EU rules on existing international standards, such as the UN Guidelines for Business and Human Rights, as well as those of the International Labour Organization and of the OECD. In other words, we have made mandatory within the EU a set of principles that were already voluntarily applied by many trading partners and a majority of large companies worldwide. Consequently, a European approach to due diligence will rather ease the administrative burden for business, as it brings some order into the maze of national sustainability standards.
Moreover, our new rules are a response to complaints I have frequently heard from ministers of developing economies, that multinational companies, profiting from their size and market power, tend to choose suppliers with the lowest environmental and social standards. By introducing binding standards, we are extending the responsibility for human rights and environmental protection to those large companies at the top of value chains. They can then be taken to court by victims and may face penalties of up to 5% of their annual turnover. This will hopefully prevent any future Rana Plaza-style tragedy from happening and avoid a global race to the bottom on labour and environmental standards.
This will hopefully prevent any future Rana Plaza-style tragedy from happening and avoid a global race to the bottom on labour and environmental standards.
EU Delegations and Member States’ embassies all over the world are already discussing these new EU policies with our partners. There is great interest and I am confident that by the time the new rules start applying, current reservations will have given way to a more positive assessment of the improvements for workers, communities and environmental protection.
Yet, to be truly effective in addressing sustainability challenges in global value chains, all major economies have to work in the same direction. We need to set legally binding measures at a global level, perhaps through the United Nations. If enough countries implement coherent due diligence rules, it will simplify auditing requirements and prevent firms that apply high standards from being undercut by competitors with larger social and environmental footprints. Economic development must benefit everyone, especially the weakest and poorest. Social and environmental sustainability is not a burden – it is an essential global public good.