Since the 1st European Development Fund (EDF) in 1958, infrastructure and communication, rural development and fishing, micro-projects and support for social sectors have represented the main areas of cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Union of the Comoros (UC).
The European Union Delegation responsible for Comoros is based in Mauritius and is currently managing a budget of approximately EUR 70 million, including certain projects from the 9th EDF, the amount allocated under the 10th EDF and the amounts mobilised under other thematic and/or ad hoc instruments such as FLEX and VFLEX, the Instrument for Stability, the Water and Energy Facilities and the support Programme for non-State actors and local authorities.
Under the 10th EDF (2008-2013), EU action supports the national development strategy defined in the Growth Strategy and Poverty Reduction Document (DSCRP) by identifying the main levers which enable the country to lay the foundations for sustainable development. In November, 2011, the EU opened a permanent office in Moroni to assure a better presence and a representativeness of the European Union in the Comoros.
With a budget of EUR 60 million over six years, the EDF focuses its aid in two main areas of activity: transport infrastructure and education; and in cross-cutting actions: good governance, management of public finances and capacity building, which supplement the sectoral development programmes.
The development cooperation strategy between the EU and Comoros
In 2009, the Union of the Comoros updated its Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction (SGPR), an interim version of which was drafted in 2003. The strategic areas identified for financing by the EDF are:
Under the 10th EDF (2008-2013), a larger budget was allocated to the development of transport infrastructures (EUR 27 million) in order to boost the economy by facilitating trade, as well as developing agriculture and the private sector. A study into establishing a sector-based road transport policy was approved in 2008. In order to support this policy, the EDF programmes provide for the maintenance of the national roads and technical and management capacity building in order to preserve the existing road system.
The second area identified by the EDF is education(EUR 11.25 million), more specifically technical and professional training and access to schooling for all, continuing the scheme launched under the 9th EDF. The development of technical and professional training is the priority of the 5th strategic element of the DSCRP aimed at education. It is also the aim of a preliminary EDF programme (EUR 6.6 million) which is attempting to reorganise the sub-sector in order to reconcile public services with the labour market. A second EDF programme (EUR 4.7 million) is planned to improve access to, and the quality of, basic education. This is an extension of the PASEC programme funded by the 9th EDF.
Various actions relating to building capacity for good governance (EUR 6.75 million) benefiting the Ministry of Finance and the Commission for the National Plan and using the Technical Cooperation Facility, aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public administration in terms of managing the resources allocated to developing and implementing the DSCRP. One project from the 9th EDF is still in progress and benefits the districts and the non-State actors (PCD – EUR 10.35 million) by supporting the decentralisation process. Finally, the EU continues to provide support to the democratic process which aims to achieve political stability by following the example of other funding bodies and financing support programmes for the organisation of legislative and presidential elections implemented by the UNDP in 2009 (EUR 1 million for the Instrument for Stability) and 2010 (EUR 1.25 million in the 10th EFD) respectively.
In order to contribute to the country's economic stability, between 2009 and 2011, the EU allocated a total of EUR 10.3 million (of which 0.7 was regional funding)in the form of budget support. This amount mainly contributed to the programme to consolidate public finances launched in 2008 by the IMF. This programme allowed the Government to reduce its (bilateral) foreign debt in 2010 under the framework of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPCI). In conjunction with other funding bodies, the IMF continues to support the Government of Comoros so that it can achieve a multilateral cancellation of foreign debt in 2012. The rest of the amount allocated by the EU (EUR 3 million) is aimed at settling the debts with the African Development Bank (ADB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) in order to allow these bodies to return and invest in the country.
Millennium Development Goals
An additional EUR 4 million funding was mobilized for a project of drinking water supply to the urban area of Domoni in Anjouan within the framework of the Initiative MDG. It is co-financed by France (EUR 1.5 million) and the commitment is planned to take place before the end of year 2012.
Within the framework of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Union of the Comoros, a new Protocol came into force on 1 January 2011 for a period of three years. It stipulates an annual financial contribution of EUR 1.230.500 based on an annual reference tonnage set at 4,850 tons relative to the actual level of 6,000 tons.
Fishing opportunities for European tuna boats have been set to 45 boats in the seiner category and 25 in the longliner category, so 70 boats in total. In return for access to Comorian waters, the European Union will pay a fee of EUR 315,250 per year.
The Protocol aims at developing the investments in the sector and at increasing the value of the small-scale fishing production.
Natural resource management
Other instruments contribute to the EU Comoros strategy for a total amount of around EUR 5.34 million mainly in the field of natural resource management with projects financed by the Water (EUR 1 million) and Energy (EUR 2.45 million) Facilities and through projects funded in Comoros under the regional budget (EUR 1.65 million) and managed by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), such as the regional marine and coastal resources management programme (RECOMAP). Other initiatives have been funded in the field of fisheries (EUR 0.24 million) as part of the regional fisheries monitoring plan in the south-west of the Indian Ocean, as a result of which the National Centre for Controlling and Monitoring Fishing (CNCSP) was founded in 2009.
Economic Partnership Agreements
The Union of the Comoros forms part of the 'Eastern and Southern Africa - Indian Ocean' group with which negotiations are under way which could lead to a global EPA. The Union of the Comoros has not signed the interim versions of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA).