Roads to peace: EU supports reconnecting Eritrea and Ethiopia
EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica visited Eritrea on 8 February 2019 where he launched an initial €20 million project to rebuild the road connection between the Ethiopian border and Eritrean ports.
During his visit, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica met with the President of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki to discuss the situation in the region and explore ways for the EU and Eritrea to step up political relations and dialogue on matters of concern to both sides.
On this occasion, Commissioner Mimica said: "The European Union is committed to support Eritrea and Ethiopia in delivering their historic peace agreement, which ended twenty years of conflict. To back this, we are launching a €20 million programme to rebuild the roads connecting both countries. This will boost trade, consolidate stability, and have clear benefits for the citizens of both countries through the creation of sustainable growth and jobs.”
The new project will be financed through the EU Trust Fund for Africa and through the United Nation's Office for Project Services (UNOPS). It will rehabilitate road connections between the Ethiopian border and Eritrean ports to boost trade and create jobs. This is the first phase of a broader support to Eritrea, which is planned to scale up later this year.
This co-operation is part of the EU's new dual track approach of strengthening political dialogue with Eritrea, notably encouraging political and economic reforms and improvement of human rights, as well as pursuing development cooperation to tackle root causes of poverty, and to reinforce the peace agreement and economic integration.
The historic peace agreement signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 2018 ending the 20 years of conflict was a precursor which led to this opportunity for economic development and stability in the region. The benefits of the rapprochement have led to the re-opening of borders between the two countries allowing for population movement and resumption of communication and the reduction in the price of basic commodities.
One of the seven pillars of the peace agreement is that ‘transport, trade and communications links between the two countries will resume'. The focus on the rehabilitation of the main arterial roads between the Ethiopian border and the Eritrean port of Massawa is a requirement to achieve this pillar.