Holy See–European Union relations

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European–Vatican relations

European Union

Vatican City

Relations between the European Union (EU) and the Holy See (or Vatican City[1]) are framed by the Holy See's geography (within an EU capital) while being unable to join.


According to the EU's Copenhagen criteria which define what states are eligible to join the EU, a candidate state must be a free market democracy. Given that the Holy See is a theocracy it does not meet the criteria. However, as it is so small, and surrounded by an EU state (Italy), it is intrinsically linked to the EU. Vatican City has an open border with the EU and intends to join the Schengen Information System. It also uses the euro as its sole currency and has an agreement with the EU allowing them to mint their own coins.[2] The EU gave Italy authority to negotiate a deal with the Holy See in 2000 which allowed the Holy See to mint a maximum of €670,000. After a review of the arrangements, a new agreement came into force in 2010 which allowed the Holy See to mint €1 million a year (plus up to an additional €300,000 on special occasions).[3]

Vatican City is not part of the EU's customs union or its VAT area like some other small European states are. However Vatican City is exempt from duties and taxes and the small amount of goods exported from Vatican City are exempt from duty.[2]


The first representative from the Holy See, an Apostolic Nuncio, was accredited to the EU in 1970. The role of the EU's representative to the Holy See is accorded to the EU representative to the UN in Rome:[2] currently Ambassador Yves Gazzo. The first EU representative to the Holy See was Luis Ritto, accredited in 2006. This accreditation followed a visit by Commission President José Manuel Barroso who wished to create open full diplomatic relations between the two.[3]

Points of tension

Some of the more recent events in the relationship have been;

See also


  1. The Holy See and the State of the Vatican City are not synonymous, however the ultimate authority of each in terms of international relations have the same impact in terms of the topics discussed in this article
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Holy See (Vatican), European External Action Service
  3. 3.0 3.1 Work with the Holy See, EU delegation in Rome
  4. Pope presses EU on constitution
  5. EU row candidate stands down
  6. EU funds must not be used for abortions in developing countries, Commission of the Bishop's Conferences of the European Commission, Press Release, 13 February 2003
  7. Roman Catholic Church Outraged at EU Stem Cell Funding Decision
  8. A framework strategy for non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all
  9. European Parliament calls for legal recognition of same-sex unions in all EU states, 27 June 2006, euro-fam

External links