Political & economic relations

Relations between the EU and Eritrea date back to the first years of Eritrean Independence. The European Commission opened its Delegation in Asmara in 1995 and was one of the first diplomatic missions to be established.

In the past, the development cooperation between the EU and Eritrea focused on addressing the challenges of reconstruction following the devastation of the war of independence and the border conflict with Ethiopia (1998-2000). Today the cooperation with Eritrea aims at poverty reduction and sustainable economic and social development. The jointly agreed Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme for the period 2009-2013 amount to € 122 million. The funds mainly target Food Security (€ 70 million).

In addition to the ongoing cooperation, the EU stands ready to mobilise ad hoc Humanitarian Aid for crisis situations through the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). In the 'Horn of Africa' region, countries are particularly exposed to food shortages due to fluctuating rainfalls. Through ECHO the European Union could repeatedly and effectively respond and contribute to alleviating the impact of food shortages. Other instruments are available for responding to acute situations like the recent rise of food prices, the international financial crisis, or newly arising Global Pandemics like Avian Influenza.

The legal framework for the EU – Eritrea co-operation is provided by the EC-ACP Partnership Agreement ('Cotonou Agreement'). It regulates the main aspects of the partnership in the fields of aid, trade, and political cooperation. Acknowledging the importance of the political dimension of cooperation, the Cotonou Agreement foresees that both parties 'regularly engage in a comprehensive, balanced and deep dialogue leading to commitments on both sides'.

As a Least Developed Country (LDC) Eritrea has benefited from the EU initiative "Everything but Arms" (EBA) that since 2001 provides unconditionally to LDC duty and quota free access for virtually all their products, except arms and ammunitions, without any quantitative restrictions (with the exception of bananas, sugar and rice for a limited period), to the EU market, now enlarged to 27 members.