EU Relations with Swaziland

Swaziland is located in Austral Africa and is surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique. It has an absolute monarchy, where power is held almost exclusively by King Mswati III. His powers include the appointment of the prime minister, the cabinet, key advisory committees and some members of parliament in both the House of Assembly and Senate.

The country faces many challenges related to widespread poverty, inequality, unemployment and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, in spite of progress towards the achievement of the MDGs.

Swaziland is middle-income country that benefits from reasonable economic stability, in spite of its heavy dependence on South Africa and the customs duties which it receives from the Southern African Customs Union – Swaziland collects two thirds of its annual income through the SACU.

Swaziland's currency is pegged to the Rand, subsuming Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa.

Nevertheless, poverty is widespread in Swaziland. Some 63% of the population lives below the poverty threshold and it is estimated that 30% of the population suffers from food insecurity.

Relations between the European Union and the Kingdom of Swaziland are cordial, but the EU is critical of the democratisation process within the country (1). During political dialogues and direct engagements with the King, the EU has called for democratisation and for the implementation of the Constitution, which provides for freedom of association, assembly and expression.

The programming exercise for the 11th EDF was firmly guided by aid effectiveness principles, Swaziland’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and Action Plan (PRSAP) and the EU Agenda for Change. The indicative allocation for the 11th EDF is of €62m. The two focal sectors are agriculture (2) and social protection (3). The PRSAP attributes high importance to agriculture and food security. The Government underscored its commitment to social protection through the 2005 Constitution and the Disability Policy, which it finalised in 2013.

Past EU ODA (EDF10, Sugar Protocol) (4).

(1) Political and policy priorities for the EU:

  • foster political relations between Swaziland and the EU;
  • promote good governance, transparency, accountability, judicial independence, the rule of law and strengthening of security;
  • contribute to a sustained poverty alleviation effort and social stability through inclusive growth, income generation and redistribution, rural development and environmental sustainability;
  • support the integration in the multilateral trade system, including through an Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU.

(2) The agriculture sector has considerable potential in Swaziland due to a favourable climate and abundant soils. The EU will seek to address these challenges with the objective of promoting environmentally sound agricultural practices, eradicating food insecurity and contributing to sustainable economic growth.

(3) Social protection programmes have already been supported by the EU, in particular those addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, there is lack of a coordination between different stakeholder and limited implementation capacity. The various social protection schemes would gain in efficiency with more transparent targeting, rationalised delivery mechanisms, robust management information systems, comprehensive grievance procedures and coherent monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Programmes on social protection will seek to address these challenges with the objective of providing a higher level of social security and access to essential services.

(4) EU-Swaziland cooperation aims at poverty reduction and is focused on human development (health and education), water and sanitation. The EU-Swaziland Country Strategy Paper for 2008-2013, funded under the 10th European Development Fund, has a total budget of €63m.

Since Swaziland does not qualify for general budget support, the EU strategy focused on improving delivery of basic social services. Such interventions were especially crucial in times of fiscal crisis and austerity to mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable segments of society.
Swaziland is also a major beneficiary of Commission funding in support of the adaptation of its sugar industry in line with the phasing out of the favourable Sugar Protocol, receiving a total allocation of €129m for the period 2006-2013