Canada and the European Union have signed a joint strategic partnership agreement on areas including energy and law enforcement.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton sat down to sign the agreement this morning.

The partnership is a road map for all foreign affairs issues between Canada and the European Union. 

"The Canada-EU relationship has never been stronger. This was confirmed once more during our discussions here in Ottawa, where we agreed to further strengthen and broaden the scope of Canada-EU co-operation," Baird and Ashton said in a joint statement. 

The document outlines enhanced co-operation in areas of law enforcement, organized crime, cybercrime, money laundering, research co-operation and energy security.


EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton meets with Ukrainian opposition leaders in Kyiv earlier this year. (Reuters)

Canada is the first G7 country to sign this type of deal with the European Union.  

This is not a final deal. Canada and the EU still have to do legal reviews of the agreement before it is ratified.

Canada and the EU are in the final phases of negotiating a free trade agreement. Both ministers were cagey about progress on the final draft of the Canada-EU trade agreement. 

The two foreign ministers will likely talk about Europe's response to the crisis in Ukraine. European countries are slated to decide whether or not to add further sanctions on Russia for destabilizing role it played in the country's provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk.

"Canada and the EU share a common vision of peace and prosperity for all of Europe. In the face of unacceptable provocations in Ukraine, we continue to stand united in support of free, independent and democratic nations," said Baird and Ashton in the same joint statement.

'We want this ceasefire to be strong'

At the news conference, Ashton explained that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) would convene a meeting of the Ukraine contact group on Monday evening. It will discuss the progress of the ceasefire between the Ukrainian central government and Russian rebels in the eastern part of the country.

"I want to say very clearly that we want this ceasefire to be strong and solid and continue and lead to the people of Ukraine being able to realize the choices that they've made,"  said Ashton.

Baird struck a more pessimistic note.

"We remain deeply skeptical of the Russian Federation's willingness to have a major de-escalation in this crisis. But let's give a political solution a chance. Obviously, if more provocation and more negative aspects emerge, we would advocate strongly for additional measures," he said.

Ashton is a labour politician who was made a life peer in 1999 in the British House of Lords. Her official title is Baroness Ashton of Upholland.

In 2009, she became the high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy for the European Union. That post is also combined with vice-president of the European commission, the executive body of the EU. 

Ashton has chaired the P5+1 on Iran's nuclear program. The group includes the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, Russian, the United Kingdom and the United States — and Germany.