Key issues in EU - Zimbabwe relations

The EU’s ultimate objective is the full normalisation of relations with Zimbabwe in the attainment of the country’s aspirations which include consolidation of democracy, peace and stability, prosperity and sustainable development. In recent times there has been an incremental partnership especially in areas of trade and dual cooperation. The new Constitution, which came into effect partially in May and wholly in August 2013, offers a framework for further deepening the EU's engagement with a large number of Zimbabwean stakeholders, including the State, its institutions, as well as civil society. The values and principles contained in the Constitution represent progressive elements upon which the EU's future support will be built.
The EU remains committed to re-engagement with Zimbabwe and this commitment has been reflected in consecutive decisions to ease restrictive and appropriate measures since 2010, following their introduction in 2002 in response to an escalation of political violence related to elections. These decisions have been taken in direct response to deliberate actions of the Government of Zimbabwe.
Trade is an important catalyst for growth and poverty reduction. The EU is currently Zimbabwe's third major trading partner. Zimbabwe signed and ratified the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (i-EPA), under the ESA region. The i-EPA is a major stepping stone to a wider and more comprehensive deal that supports sustainable development and fosters regional integration.

Development Assistance

Since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, the EU has provided development assistance. In line with the objectives of the Cotonou Agreement, the strategic objective of the EU's development cooperation with Zimbabwe is to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty and to support peace and stability, by supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and promoting human rights, democracy and rule of law.

Following the suspension of the application of Cotonou Agreement's article 96 appropriate measures by the European Council Decision of 24 July 2012, Zimbabwe and the EU launched the 11th EDF programming exercise in August 2012. Consistent with EU development policies and in particular the European Consensus on Development and the Communication on "Increasing the impact of the EU Development Policy", the EU will concentrate its future cooperation on three sectors, which have been jointly selected with the Government of Zimbabwe taking into account Zim Asset's priorities and the EU's international commitments towards development assistance effectiveness, including  the goals agreed at the Busan High Level Forum:

  • The EU will aim at improving health outcomes for the population of Zimbabwe by supporting the National Health System and increasing equitable access to quality health services.
  • The EU will support economic development based on sustainable agriculture in order to assure food security, increase resilience of the most vulnerable populations (most of whom are women and children), contribute to employment creation and income generation, improve the supply of raw materials for industry, and contribute to improved export earnings.
  • Finally, the EU will focus on institutional strengthening, fostering good governance in order to contribute to Zimbabwe's economic recovery, and to the consolidation of the democratic process, as well as peace and stability.