The European Union must speak to the Taliban because the radical Islamist group had "won the war" in Afghanistan, the bloc's foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.
Doing so was essential to prevent a humanitarian crisis and allow the departure of people wishing to leave the Central Asian country.
"We will deal with Afghan authorities such as they are, at the same time remaining naturally vigilant," Borrell said following a meeting of EU foreign ministers. This was not the same as official recognition, he stressed.
EU countries have so far granted almost 400 visas for people working with the bloc's delegation in Afghanistan plus family members, the senior official told reporters via videolink from Madrid.
Spain had offered to serve as an arrival hub for these people before they could be distributed throughout the bloc, Borrell said.