Somebody mentioned a Franco-Italian cooperation in the EU. I know that alliances like the Visegrád Group and the Three Seas Initiative are already around. Are there any other political cooperations between EU countries?

  • I’ve made some edits to try and improve the question, if you disagree, feel free to undo them. Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 19:17
  • How about the informal groups? Like, e.g. PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain) - the high-debt group or the always-lagging Balkan peninsula (Bulgaria + Romania) ?
    – fraxinus
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 10:52
  • I think you ought to differentiate between "political" and "material" (not sure what word to actually use here) agreements. As example, in the European parliament there are a number of political agreements that go above material agreements. The parliament as such has party groups which fall into the political group. The example of the Nordic Council basically has very little real-world relevance currently (lots of talk, very little action if you ask me).
    – ghellquist
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 14:58

3 Answers 3


This changes both over time and depending on the issue in question. A far from complete list:

  • There is the Franco-German cooperation, sometimes called axis. The idea is that if these two can agree on something despite their differences e.g. on financial issues, they will make the others come along.
  • The term Frugal Four was used for Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden when they agreed on financial issues.
  • The BeNeLux are Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg, a regional alliance.
  • Scandinavia, with or without Finland or Iceland (the full set would be the Nordic Countries).
  • 5
    Frugal Four also known as the Bad Weather Coalition.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 8:25

The Benelux union between Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg - established in London in 1944 by the three governments-in-exile - springs to mind, and more recently, the Baltic Assembly consisting of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

The latter group especially is quite comparable to the Visegrád group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) - established around the same time in 1990, and with the members of both groups joining the EU all in the same intake in May 2004.

The MED Group was founded in 2013, and initially consisted of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain, with Slovenia and Croatia joining in 2021.

The Salzburg Forum, a security partnership between central European states, consists of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. These countries, excluding Bulgaria & Romania, also formed the Central European Defence Cooperation - a military collaboration - in 2010. Poland has observer status to this group.

A subset of the members of the Three Seas Initiative are also members of the Bucharest Nine Initiative - formed in 2015, partially in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Another decent example might be the Nordic Council which consists of Sweden, Denmark & Finland (including the Åland Islands) - although it also includes non-EU members Norway and Iceland, as well as Greenland and the Faroe Islands, autonomous territories of Denmark which are outside of the EU.

  • Norway is associated with the EU, so I could halfway count it in. Iceland less so, perhaps.
    – o.m.
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 5:58
  • 1
    Norway is an EU member for most practical uses. It is much more "associated" than e.g. Turkey, Syria or Ukraine (who are associated as well).
    – fraxinus
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 10:55

The New Hanseatic League was established in February 2018 by European Union finance ministers from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden.

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