Political & economic relations

Since the new government took office in March 2011, Myanmar/Burma has embarked on a remarkable process of reform significant both for its own people and for the region. However, dealing with this legacy of conflict, poverty, oppression and weak institutions will be the work of decades. The EU is strongly committed to, and supportive of, Myanmar/Burma's democratic and economic transition, and in 2013 agreed a Comprehensive Framework which clearly outlines the EU's policy priorities over the coming years, including support to political, social and economic development, fostering respect for human rights, and assisting the Government in rebuilding its place in the international community.

The EU was one of the first actors to respond to the country's political opening, suspending its restrictive measures except the arms embargo on 23 April 2012. This was followed by the full lifting of sanctions in April 2013. In July 2013, Myanmar/Burma was reinstated as a beneficiary of the "Everything But Arms" initiative under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which allows companies to enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to a European single market of over 500 million consumers.

The Government still needs to address several challenges in order to ensure the success of the transition and bring economic prosperity to its people. A strengthened public administration and a truly independent judiciary will be key ingredients for securing good governance across the country. The peace process will remain on the country's political agenda for many years, and ceasefires will need to be followed by a national political dialogue and sustainable development in minority areas. The EU is also supporting initiatives to address inter-communal violence in Myanmar/Burma, including the development of an accountable and responsible police force trusted by all communities. Finally, key drivers for economic development will be a good regulatory framework, a carefully managed liberalisation of markets and regional integration.

The EU seeks active collaboration with the Government of Myanmar/Burma to assist the reform process and to contribute to political, economic and social development. At the first EU-Myanmar Task Force in November 2013, four priority areas were agreed upon for development assistance for 2014-2020: rural development, agriculture and food security; education; good governance, rule of law and capacity building; and peacebuilding support. To achieve progress in these areas, we have allocated €688 million in development aid, making the EU one of the biggest donors to Myanmar/Burma during this important transition period.

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton opened the first EU Office in Yangon on 28 April 2012, with the aim of enhancing dialogue and cooperation with the government and the people of Myanmar/Burma. In September 2013, we welcomed our first resident ambassador, Roland Kobia, and became a fully-fledged EU Delegation. We look forward to continuing our work in partnership with the Government and other actors to promote peace, democracy and inclusive sustainable development to the benefit of all.