Political Framework: Partnership between the European Union and Malawi is based on the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. In a framework of respect for universal human rights, this landmark pact reaffirms the EU’s willingness to make a significant contribution to poverty eradication, sustainable development and gradual (regional and global) integration of African Caribbean and Pacific countries into the world economy.
Political and Policy dialogues : Relations between Malawi and the EU are traditionally cordial and close. Three EU Member States are represented at embassy level in Malawi, namely Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The Cotonou Agreement, notably its articles 8 to 13, define the bilateral framework for the political dialogue between Malawi and the EU. Other conventions and political commitments include the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of 2 March 2005 and its subsequent instruments, the EU-Africa Strategic Partnership, the Country Strategy Paper (CSP) and the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for the period 2008-2013. In addition there are the Malawi strategic documents, in particular the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II 2011/12-2015/6 and the National Export Strategy 2013-2018.
Further dialogue and cooperation between Malawi and the EU also involve the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Bilateral Cooperation: Under the 10the European Development Fund (EDF), the focal sectors are: food security and agriculture; road infrastructure and macro-economic support. Several other non-focal sectors are also covered: governance; EPA investment & trade; HIV-AIDS and gender; institutional capacity building; health; water & sanitation.
In line with the Agenda for Change's emphasis on concentrating funding for greater impact, bilateral cooperation between the EU and Malawi in 2014-2020, as supported through the 11th EDF, will concentrate on a more limited number of sectors: (1) governance, (2) sustainable agriculture and (3) secondary education and vocational training, which is a new area of engagement for the EU in Malawi.
The 11EDF NIP will be fully aligned with the national development strategy and key policy documents. Key objectives also include agriculture and development of skills and competences (seen as key drivers of economic growth), fostering democratic political processes, good governance and rule of law, including reform of Public Financial Management (PFM) and the Public Service.
O ther areas of cooperation: At the request of the Malawi government, an EU Electoral Observation Mission followed the tripartite elections of 2014. In addition to the EDF bilateral envelope, Malawi can benefit from programmes financed under other budget lines, such as the Accompanying Measures for Sugar (AMSP) that mainly supports a scheme for small out-growers'; (2) EU Global Climate Change Alliance supporting i.a. the resilience of vulnerable communities to climate change; (3) the Instrument for Development Cooperation, supporting innovative approaches to cash delivery for the Malawi Social Cash Transfer programme, a project for re-integrating specialised medical personnel from diaspora as well as a project on strengthening child protection systems within communities (human and social development budget line); (4) the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), which focuses on two specific objectives: freedom of expression with particular emphasis on the media environment; and enhancing respect for the rights of vulnerable groups.
On top of these programmes, ongoing European Investment Bank (EIB) programmes cover Malawi Peri-Urban Water & Sanitation to assist the water boards of Blantyre and Lilongwe in providing basic water services to low income areas; the Malawi Global Loan for on-lending to export focused SMEs, particularly in the agriculture sector. A number of other EIB projects are in the pipeline for the period 2014-2020.
Regional cooperation: The EU continues to be active in supporting regional integration and cooperation. Malawi is a member of both the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Under the 11th, EDF, SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East Africa Community (EAC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) will be covered under the same Regional Indicative Programme (RIP). Assistance will focus on three sectors: i) peace, security and regional stability; ii) regional economic integration; and iii) regional natural resources management. Regional infrastructure receives an allocation (preferably for the joint-financing of projects), as do other regional activities such as migration, wildlife, river and aquifer management, sustainable fisheries (including inland) and maritime security..
Economic and trade relations: Malawi has actively pursued negotiations within the context of COMESA-SADC and the East African Community (EAC) tripartite economic grouping, which aims at harmonisation across the respective configurations. Malawi continues to benefit from preferential treatment in terms of non-reciprocal, duty-free access for its exports to the EU market under the Generalised System of Preferences: the Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement.
The EU is Malawi's largest trading partner in terms of total trade (18.8 %), followed closely by South Africa (and other members in the SADC region) and China. Malawi has also recently finalised its Market Access Regulation (MAR) offer under the ongoing negotiations with the EU in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA).