The EUCO gave its first concerts in 1981 and soon gained a worldwide reputation as a musical ambassador for the European Union. From 1992 to 2004 assistance from the European Commission enabled EUCO to make intercontinental tours covering South and East Asia, North, South and Central America, North Africa and the Middle East as well as Europe. Performances included those in the presence of Queen Noor of Jordan, the King and Queen of Belgium and its own Patron, Queen Sofia of Spain.
At the invitation of European Delegations, EUCO toured South America seven times and Mexico nine times and in 1996 was the first "European" Orchestra to give concerts in Belize and Cuba. In 1997 EUCO's tour of Canada celebrated 500 years since the landing of John Cabot and in 1998 EUCO toured India in celebration of 50 years of Indian independence and the British Presidency of the EU. In 1999 EUCO gave a concert to mark the 77th birthday of King Sihanouk of Cambodia in the Royal Palace at Phnom Penh and in 2000 performed for the birthday of Princess Galyani in Bangkok. Countries to which it returned very regularly included Chile and Peru, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
Since 2005 EUCO has devoted more time to performing across Europe, in particular in the new member states of the European Union. Giving annually circa 50 concerts, to date in 73 countries, its schedule includes prestigious halls such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Frankfurter Alte Oper, Milan's Sala Verdi and Valencia's Palau de la Musica as well as many major halls across Britain. The Orchestra has appeared at international festivals such as Bath and Cheltenham, the Glasperlenspiel, Niedersächsische Musiktage, Emilia Romagna, Flanders and Bodensee. Its tours in recent years included South America and the Baltic States as well as regular concerts in the UK, Italy, Germany, the Benelux countries and Turkey. The 2012 schedule took in a live broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from Llandudno with Julian Lloyd Webber, the Bath Festival with Alison Balson, concerts at the Ravello Festival in Italy and Luxembourg and a tour of Christmas concerti with Nicola Benedetti. The 2013 schedule includes tours of Germany, Spain, the UK and Turkey.
The Orchestra performs with many distinguished artists, for example Cyprien Katsaris, Lazar Berman, Mischa Maisky and Igor Oistrakh and most recently with James Galway, Ivo Pogorelich and Gilles Apap. The Orchestra commissions works from leading European composers and has to its credit 18 CDs on ASV, Carlton, Hyperion, Koch, Regent and Barn Cottage Records.
Over the years, the EUCO has received funds from the European Commission, British Council, Goethe-Institut, the Ministry of Culture of Spain, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and the Cultural Relations Committee of Ireland.