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Relations between the Central African Republic (CAR) and the European Union (EU) and its member countries are primarily governed by the Treaty of Lisbon and the Partnership Agreement between African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU (ACP-EU), or Cotonou Agreement. They are backed by regular political dialogue, as stipulated in Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement. This political dialogue covers the different aspects of development, including policies on peace-building, security, conflict prevention and resolution, regional cooperation, respect for human rights, democratic principles based on a constitutional state, and transparent and responsible management of public affairs, among other areas.
The EU's institutional and political reforms, introduced in December 2009 when the Treaty of Lisbon came into effect, made the external policies of the EU and its member countries more harmonised, notably regarding diplomacy, security, trade and development. The EU's external policy is "personified" by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini.
She is supported in her external work by the European External Action Service, set up in 2010. This is a true diplomatic service of the EU, and includes the EU Delegation to the CAR. Since January 2010, our Delegation has also represented the permanent local presidency of the EU in the CAR. Since the new European Commission was confirmed at the end of 2014, the portfolio for international cooperation and development has been held by former Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs and the European Integration of Croatia, Mr Neven MIMICA.
Trade relations between the EU and the CAR are essentially based on the initiative 'Everything but Arms' (EBA) adopted in February 2001 and which enables Least Developed Countries (LDC) to export all products, except arms and ammunition, to the EU duty-free. The main products exported by the CAR are coffee, cotton, timber and diamonds. In 2011, the value of exports came to FCFA 88.1 billion, while imports were FCFA 150.9 billion, resulting in a foreign trade deficit of FCFA 62.8 billion. The 2013 crisis significantly affected the country's production and export capacities.
The main countries that the CAR exports to are: Belgium (25.6 %), China (17.5 %), Morocco (12.1 %), Democratic Republic of the Congo (8.1 %), France (6.1 %) and Indonesia (4.9 %).
Imports essentially come from: Netherlands (27.8 %), France (11.9 %), Cameroon (8.3 %) and China (5.1 %).
For several years, the CAR's trade balance has remained a deficit, given not only the limited number of exported products whose prices are subject to international market fluctuations, but also the large volume of imports of vital goods and services.
The CAR is involved in negotiating an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the EU as part of the CEMAC++ (CEMAC + DRC + São Tomé and Príncipe) group. The negotiations are facing difficulties concerning mainly the coverage and the timeframe for easing restrictions, as well as the provisions related to funding the support measures and how they will be incorporated into the EPA.
For more information, see our brochure:
Ensemble pour la paix, la stabilité et le développement (Together for peace, stability and development).
As a leading partner in the country's development, the EU has been present in the CAR since 1957, which demonstrates its long-term commitment to a country that still today remains in a vulnerable and fragile situation.
Despite the fact that since 2013 the CAR has been faced with ongoing political turbulence, violence and insecurity, and given the extent of the challenges to be overcome, the EU's commitment to working alongside the CAR can be seen in its all-encompassing approach, covering humanitarian aid, support for stabilisation, strengthening the State and stimulating development. To effectively meet needs over the long term, our cooperation has been adapted, in particular to the coexistence of emergency and transition situations on the ground, by coordinating humanitarian work and development. For example, the first European trust fund, known as 'Bêkou' ('hope' in the Sango language), was set up in July 2014 for the CAR, in an effort to tap into and combine both financial and human resources at European level and beyond. The aim is to meet the immediate needs of people, at the same time contributing to building up the CAR's institutional capacities, in doing so providing the conditions for longer-term development of the country.
Following the return to constitutional order and democracy, 2016 saw the EU relaunch, together with the Central African authorities, the process of drawing up the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for the 2016-2020 period, funded by the 11th EDF (European Development Fund). This programme will be aligned with the National Plan for Recovery and Peace-building (RCPC) presented by the Central African authorities during the Brussels Conference on 17 November 2016.
Joint Programming is the joint planning of external action and development cooperation activities by EU external action and development partners working in a partner country. It is a policy tool that helps to make Europe stronger and to pool resources and know-how. Now, more than ever, the European Union, the Member States and other countries that share the same values need to join forces, programme their development aid together and, in the long term, develop a strategic and coordinated response to key challenges such as migration and climate change. Close collaboration will enhance the EU's ability to make a decisive contribution to partner countries’ national development plans and will help the partners implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its Sustainable Development Goals and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. For more information on the implementation of Joint Programming in each partner country, see: capacity4dev.eu
The EU and its development partners started to develop joint programming in June 2016. France is the only Member State represented in the Central African Republic, but Italy, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Luxembourg and Ireland are also involved, either as technical and financial partners, through NGOs or through contributions to the Bêkou Trust Fund (since 2014). Switzerland is also involved in the process. While the Central African Republic has been facing decades of political turmoil, violence and insecurity, the commitment of the European Union and the Member States is characterised by an integrated approach. This combines humanitarian aid, stabilisation support, strengthening the state through reforms and governance, security, rehabilitation and action to boost development (LRRD), in line with the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid and the European Consensus on Development. Joint programming is an ideal forum for coordinating these approaches.
The joint strategy, which is expected to be validated in 2019, is based on the following challenges:
Furthermore, the Joint Strategy is aligned with the National Plan for Recovery and Peacebuilding (RCPCA) 2017-2021 and sets out the following six objectives:
In the same vein, the spirit of cooperation between the European partners and the Central African Republic is firmly anchored in a political and sensitive approach to the Central African conflict, with the aim of consolidating democracy, freedom and justice and all aspects of regional integration and stability.