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 currently implemented 10th 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 completed in 2008 and on its basis, the National Transport Policy approved in 2012 reorganised the sector by creating a new and sustainable Road Fund (Fonds d'Entretien Routier – FER). In order to support the implementation of the national policy and improve and preserve the existing road system, the 10th EDF programmes currently provide for the maintenance of the national roads and for technical and management capacity building. Works on priority roads in Grande Comore started end 2013 while in Anjouan and Moheli they are due to start early 2014. By 2015 a total of 560 km of roads should be better maintained as a result. The programme also completed in 2013 a 9 km new section of road in Mohéli, between Wallah and Miringoni, enabling the local population to drive entirely around the island, thus gaining time and better access to crops and social services.
A study is currently ongoing to develop a national strategy for ports development.
The second area identified by the EDF is education (EUR 11.25 million). More specifically, 10th EDF focus is on technical and professional training and access to schooling for all, building on the achievements of 9th EDF education programme which contributed to increasing enrolment rate in primary education from 72% in 2006 to 85% in 2010. This was achieved namely through the construction or rehabilitation and equipment of 120 classrooms. The 10th EDF programme of strengthening the education sector management (PREPEEC, EUR 4.7 million), started in the beginning of 2014, and aims at improving governance, monitoring and quality of basic education in line with the Interim Education Plan 2013-2015 (PIE) approved by the Government. In 2013, the same PIE also allowed Comoros to gain access to Global Partnership for Education – partly funded by EU and state members - and obtain a USD 4.6 million support to promote universal schooling.
10th EDF Vocational and Professional Training Support Program (PAFTP, EUR 6.6 million) is supporting reorganisation of the sub-sector in order to reconcile it with the needs of the labour market.
Various actions related to building capacity for good governance (EUR 6.75 million), benefiting the Ministry of Finance and the Commission for the National Plan, aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public administration in terms of managing the resources allocated to developing and implementing the National Strategic Document for Development and Poverty Reduction (DSCRP). The 9th EDF Decentralised Cooperation Programme (DCP, EUR 10.25 million) which ended in 2012 benefited the districts and the Non-State actors by supporting the decentralisation process. Under the Technical Cooperation Facility (TCF), the EU also provided support to government to develop a national strategy and action plan to fight against corruption. Additional support is ongoing in order to update the national strategy for agriculture/food security sector. Under the Non-state actors/Local authorities thematic budget line, 5 new projects for a total amount of EUR 1 million will be implemented as of 2014.
Finally, the EU continues to provide support to the democratic process which aims to achieve political stability by supporting the organisation of legislative elections in 2009 (EUR 1 million for the Instrument for Stability) and presidential elections in 2010 (EUR 1.25 million in the 10th EFD).
In order to contribute to the country's economic stability and the programme of consolidation of public finances, between 2009 and 2011, the EU allocated a total of EUR 10.3 million in the form of budget support. During 2012, the EU settled the debts with the African Development Bank (EUR 2 325 million) and the European Investment Bank (EUR 0.7 million) in order to allow these bodies to return and invest in the country. These settlements were instrumental for the successful implementation of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) process, whose completion point was reached in December 2012. Since 2011, the country also benefits from IMF technical assistance through AFRITAC – which is funded by EU regional funds.
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.
A new protocol has been negotiated in 2013 and should take effect in 2014 for a period of 3 years.
Natural resource management
Other instruments contribute to the EU-Comoros strategy, mainly in the field of natural resource management, with projects financed by the Water (EUR 1 million for water drilling in Grande Comore ending in 2013) and Energy (EUR 2.45 million for solar energy in Moheli approved in 2013) Facilities. Under the 10th EDF TCF, The EU also contributed to the elaboration and validation in 2013 of the Comoros National Energy strategy and a 5 year action plan.
Projects in the fields of biodiversity, fishing and renewable energy are also funded in Comoros under the regional budget and managed by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
Additionally, Comoros has become eligible in 2012 to the EU GCCA initiative (Global Climate Change Alliance), and a new programme to enhance national resilience to climate change was approved in 2013 and is due to start early 2014 (EUR 3 millions).
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).