EU Relations with Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a vast country (more than 2.3 million km²), rich in natural resources (minerals, forests, oil and fertile land) and has more than 60 million inhabitants divided between 200 ethnic groups. Yet, despite immense resources, poverty is widespread in the DRC and the social and economic situation of the country already fragile were gravely impacted by both the food prices and financial crisis. In addition, the DRC’s human development index is one of the lowest in the world (0.361 = 177th rank out of 179 countries according to the UNDP). All this is the consequence of decades of dictatorship under President Mobutu Sese Seko, followed by regional wars (1997 and 1998-2002) leading to the death of an estimated 4-5 million people. Today, the DRC can be considered as a fragile post-conflict state.

Nevertheless, the DRC has made significant progress since the Sun City peace agreement of 2002: The post-war transition period ended with the setting up of legitimate institutions as a result of the 2006 elections that were considered as free and fair by most observers on the ground (cf: In addition, early 2009, a considerable momentum has emerged for a lasting and significant rapprochement between the DRC and its eastern neighbours, in particular Rwanda which is key for a sustainable stabilisation of the Great Lakes and is now consolidating. The Ihusi peace agreements signed in March 2009 with the Congolese rebel groups is also an initiative to bring lasting peace in the eastern DRC.

Key issues in EU-DRC relations

The Commission's Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for the period 2008-2013 currently amounts roughly to 584 million € (A and B envelopes) under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). Within this framework, the Commission's objective is to support the reconstruction of the DRC, while pursuing stabilization efforts in some regions of the country. As a result of both consultations with the DRC government and coordination with the other donors active in the country, the Commission's future interventions will focus on physical reconstruction – in particular on transport infrastructure – as well as on reconstruction of the State through the strengthening of good governance. In addition, the Commission will continue its health support as well as environmental protection activities. Moreover, the DRC should continue to benefit from additional funding under the Commission budget lines, in particular from humanitarian assistance (ECHO), which accounted for € 45 M in 2009 and remains in this average in 2010.

Peace, security and stabilisation are clear priorities in the Commission's relations with the DRC. The Commission, together with the Member States and the rest of the International Community, is following closely and participating actively to restoring peace and stability in the eastern part of the DRC. The Commission, one of the most important donors in eastern DRC (€ 300 M since 2003) via its humanitarian assistance as well as through its rehabilitation and capacity building programs, has recently increased its support to the region especially through European initiatives as well as in close collaboration with the United Nations.

As indicated in its Governance Contract, the DRC government considers improving governance, a key aspect to redress the country, notably issues related to security sector reform, decentralisation, public finances, public enterprises reform, public administration reform, natural resources management and investment climate. The governance contract has been included to the Government's Priority Actions Program (PAP).

In particular, the Commission, together with the Member States is actively supporting sustainable stabilization in the DRC through Security Sector Reform comprising the army, police and justice reforms. Two EU missions (EUSEC and EUPOL) have been on the ground since 2005 to assist and advice the DRC Government to reform and reconstruct its army and police. The Commission is also active in supporting the police (€ 10 M) as well as the justice sector, where the Commission is one of the key actors. The Commission has recently allocated € 21 M to support the ambitious government justice reform plan in the following years, thus bringing the Commission financing to the justice sector up to € 60 M since 2003. The Commission was one of the main donors (€ 165 M) supporting the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2006. Together with the international community, it will continue to support the democratisation process in the DRC as a new electoral cycle is in the making.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC):
Elements on the European response to the crisis (November 2008)

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