Europe



OVERVIEW

Singapore enjoys good relations with the countries in Europe. Aside from regular exchanges between our leaders, ministers, parliamentarians, and officials, our network of resident embassies and high commissions, non-resident ambassadors and honorary consuls-general helps us maintain and strengthen links with these countries. Singapore cooperates closely with the European Union (EU) and individual member states in a wide range of sectors. In recent years, Singapore has also expanded contacts and deepened relations with emerging economies in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Black Sea regions.

 
On the economic front, the EU is Singapore’s largest foreign investor and also among Singapore's largest global trading partners. The initialling of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) and the EU-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (ESPCA) in September and October 2013 respectively, and the eventual ratification of these agreements, will facilitate deeper economic engagement of the EU. Singapore is also a hub for European business in the Asia-Pacific region. There are more than 11,000 European companies in Singapore, of which many use Singapore as their regional headquarters, logistics and distribution centres for the region.

To open up opportunities in emerging markets, Singapore also signed the Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (TRSFTA) in November 2015, and initiated the process to commence negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia) in November 2015. These agreements will bolster Singapore’s network of free trade agreements and benefit companies from both sides.

Academic and student exchanges between Singapore and Europe are active, as are collaborations and exchanges among the museums of Singapore and Europe.  Singapore also hosts a large community of Europeans, and many European cultural institutions are also well-represented in Singapore.

Some examples of major agreements and events are as follows:

Major Agreements

  • Update to the Germany-Singapore Enhanced Partnership entitled "Singapore and Germany: The Way Ahead" (signed during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s official visit to Germany in December 2005).
  • The annual Russia-Singapore High-Level Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) meeting, co-chaired by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam (established in 2010 as a platform for high-level political engagement and the development of broad-based bilateral cooperation in various fields).
  • Singapore-France Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership (signed during French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's official visit on 18 October 2012).
  • Singapore-Switzerland Declaration of Enhanced Partnership (signed during President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s official visit in May 2014).
  • Singapore-Turkey Joint Declaration on a Strategic Partnership (signed during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s official visit to Turkey in October 2014).

Events and Exhibitions

  • The National Heritage Board worked with the British Museum to bring in the Treasures of the World exhibition to the National Museum Singapore from December 2015 to July 2016.
  • The Arctic Circle and Singapore Maritime Institute, with support of the Singapore Government, convened the Arctic Circle Singapore Forum on 12 November 2015.
  • National Gallery Singapore (NGS) and France’s Centre Pompidou collaborated to present “Reframing Modernity”, NGS’ first major exhibition collaboration from March to July 2016. 
  • The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) worked with the Italian Cultural Institute in Singapore to loan three important paintings for ACM’s “Christianity in Asia” exhibition which opened in May 2016. ACM also borrowed works of art from the Church of the Gesù.

ARCTIC COUNCIL

OVERVIEW

In May 2013, Singapore was admitted as an observer to the Arctic Council (AC). The AC, established in 1996, is a high-level governmental forum for discussing political, economic, environmental and scientific issues concerning the governments and inhabitants of the Arctic region. Our admission has provided a new dimension for our relations with AC Member States, namely Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

Our interests in the Arctic include: the protection of the Arctic environment; the development of a safe Arctic region; the economic advancement of the Arctic; the development of human capital in the Arctic; and climate change. As a low-lying island nation, Singapore is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels due to the melting of Arctic ice. In line with these objectives, Singapore has sought to identify areas of convergence between its capabilities and the work of the AC. 

Under the Singapore-AC Permanent Participants (PPs) Cooperation Package, Singapore provides full scholarships for representatives from the PPs (representing the indigenous peoples in the Arctic) to participate in short-term courses on various aspects of public administration. Under the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), we also provide full scholarships for students from indigenous communities to pursue selected post-graduate programmes at Singapore institutions, in fields such as Masters in Maritime Law, Masters in Public Policy/Administration, and Masters of Science in Maritime Studies.

Singapore also participates in a range of Arctic-related fora, including the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, the Arctic Circle Assembly, the Arctic Frontiers Conference and the International Meeting of Representatives of the AC Member States, Observer States and the Foreign Scientific Community.

RECENT HIGHLIGHTS

2017

Visits to Singapore

  • Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark Lars Løkke Rasmussen made an Official Visit to Singapore from 29 to 30 November at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Prime Minister Rasmussen called on President Halimah Yacob and reaffirmed the good bilateral relations between Singapore and Denmark, as like-minded maritime nations with open economies.
  • Foreign Minister of Greece Nikos Kotzias made an official visit to Singapore on 29 November. Both sides affirmed the warm and growing relations between Greece and Singapore, and Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan looked forward to plans by Greece to establish a Greek Embassy in Singapore.
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius visited Singapore from 14 to 16 November to attend the Singapore FinTech Festival.
  • The President of the Federal Republic of Germany, His Excellency Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, made a State Visit to Singapore from 2 to 3 November. This was the first State Visit by a German Head of State to Singapore.
  • His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall made an Official Visit to Singapore from 30 October to 2 November. His Royal Highness and President Halimah Yacob reaffirmed the excellent bilateral ties between Singapore and the UK, and discussed the importance of interfaith harmony.
  • Prime Minister of Hungary, His Excellency Viktor Orbán made his first official visit to Singapore from 26 to 27 September, at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
  • Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, His Excellency Binali Yıldırım made his first official visit to Singapore from 20 to 22 August at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 
  • French President Francois Hollande made a State Visit to Singapore from 26 to 27 March.
  • Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj made an official visit to Singapore from 22 to 23 January.
  • Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin visited Singapore on 16 January.

Visits to Europe

  • Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam visited Moscow, Russia from 16 to 17 October. He co-chaired the Eighth Session of the High-Level Russia-Singapore Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC8) with First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov in Moscow on 17 October. 
  • Minister of State (Prime Minister's Office, Manpower and Foreign Affairs) Sam Tan made a working visit to Helsinki and Rovaniemi, Finland from 19 to 22 September 2017.
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-In-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Ministry of Trade and Industry Ms Sim Ann, attended the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, from 17 to 20 January.

2016

Visits to Singapore

  • First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov visited Singapore on 25 November and co-hosted the Seventh Session of the High-Level Russia-Singapore Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC7) with Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
  • Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte visited Singapore on 24 November.
  • Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel visited Singapore from 14 to 15 November.
  • Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg and Minister of the Economy, Minister of Internal Security and Minister of Defence Étienne Schneider visited from 30 August to 1 September.
  • German Members of Parliament from the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) and Christian Social Union’s (CSU) Junge Gruppe (Young Group) visited from 16 to 18 August.
  • Swiss President Johann N. Schneider-Ammann made a State Visit from 11 to 13 July.
  • Lord Mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz visited from 10 to 13 July.
  • Danish Minister for Environment and Food Esben Lunde Larsen visited from 8 to 12 July for the Singapore International Water Week.
  • Romanian Minister for Public Finance Anca Dana Dragu visited on 20 June.
  • French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian visited from 3 to 5 June for the 15th Shangri-La Dialogue.
  • Swiss Federal Councillor for Defence, Civil Protection and Sports Guy Parmelin visited from 3 to 5 June for the 15th Shangri-La Dialogue.
  • Italian Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti visited from 3 to 5 June for the 15th Shangri-La Dialogue.
  • British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visited from 3 to 5 June for the 15th Shangri-La Dialogue.
  • Turkish Minister of National Defence Fikri Işık visited from 3 to 4 June for the 15th Shangri-La Dialogue.
  • Turkish Speaker of the Grand National Assembly İsmail Kahraman visited from 11 to 13 May.
  • Minister-President of the German State of Saxony and President of the Federal Council Stanislaw Tillich visited from 28 to 30 April.
  • Danish Minister for Environment and Food Esben Lunde Larsen visited on 13 April.
  • Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg made an official visit to Singapore from 12 to 14 April.
  • Russian Chairperson of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko visited from 16 to 17 March.
  • Mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbaş visited from 18 to 19 February.

Visits to Europe

  • President Tony Tan Keng Yam made a State Visit to Norway from 9 to 14 October
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam visited France from 9 to 12 October
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean visited France from 5 to 8 October to attend the 19th Meeting of the TOTAL International Advisory Committee.
  • Minister (Foreign Affairs) Dr Vivian Balakrishnan made an official visit to Turkey from 5 to 6 October.
  • Senior Minister of State (Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Affairs and Transport) Josephine Teo visited Austria from 29 September to 3 October.
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Mongolia to attend the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit from 15 to 16 July.
  • Minister (Trade and Industry – Industry) S Iswaran visited Germany from 4 to 8 July .
  • President Tony Tan Keng Yam visited Germany from 23 to 27 June to attend the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
  • President Tony Tan Keng Yam made a State Visit to Italy and the Holy See from 22 to 29 May.
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a working visit to Moscow, Russia from 17 to 20 May and attended the ASEAN-Russia Commemorative Summit in Sochi.
  • NTUC Secretary-General and Minister (PMO) Chan Chun Sing visited Switzerland from 10 to 12 May.
  • Minister (Finance) Heng Swee Keat visited Germany from 2 to 5 May to attend the Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting.
  • Minister (Defence) Dr Ng Eng Hen visited Russia from 26 to 28 April to attend the 5th Moscow Conference on International Security.
  • Acting Minister (Education – Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung visited Switzerland and Germany from 23 to 26 February.
  • Minister (Defence) Dr Ng Eng Hen visited Germany from 12 to 14 February to attend the 52nd Munich Security Conference.
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam made a working visit to the United Kingdom and Switzerland from 16 to 25 January to attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

Last updated: December 2017