Thimphu, 3 April 2019: A delegation of European Union Ambassadors based in New Delhi and led by the Ambassador of the European Union to Bhutan, H.E. Mr Tomasz Kozlowski are on a visit to Bhutan from 2-4 April. The visit provides an opportunity to reaffirm the on-going cooperation for Bhutan's sustainable development and to deepen the growing political ties between the two sides.
The EU provides continued support to Bhutan's democratic governance, sustainable economic and agricultural development and climate change adaptation, as well as its other national priorities as part of a long-term partnership.
H.E. Mr. Milan Hovorka, Ambassador of the Czech Republic; H.E. Mr. Riho Kruuv, Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia; H.E. Mr. Radu Octavian Dobre, Ambassador of Romania; H.E. Mr. Julius Pranevicius, Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania; H.E. Mr. Jean Claude Kugener, Ambassador of Luxembourg; H.E. Mr. Artis Bertulis, Ambassador of Latvia; and H.E. Mrs. Eleonora Dimitrova, Ambassador of Bulgaria as well as Mr. Robert Dziedzic, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Poland, and Mr. Stijn Mols, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Belgium, are part of the delegation
Speaking about the visit, the EU Ambassador Tomasz Kozlowski said: "The EU-Bhutan relationship has matured in the last three decades, in particular in the last 10 years. While the earlier focus was on development cooperation, it is now a comprehensive engagement comprising policy dialogue and cooperation on political, social, economic, and environmental issues. We are committed to supporting Bhutan in the future in the context of achieving sustainable development goals."
Meetings in Thimphu
His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck granted an audience to the delegation. The delegation met with Hon'ble Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchhen Dr. Lotay Tshering. They also met Members of the Government, including the Hon’ble Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lyonpo Dr. Tandi Dorji, the Hon'ble Minister of Finance, Lyonpo Namgay Tshering, and the Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture and Forest, Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor. The delegation interacted with the Speaker of the National Assembly of Bhutan, Tshogpon Wangchuk Namgyel; the officiating Leader of the Opposition, Ugyen Wangdi, and with other Bhutanese high level officials, parliamentarians, civil society leaders and partners in Bhutan’s development.
The EU also celebrates EU-Bhutan Friendship by hosting a reception on 3rd April in the presence of Hon'ble Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchhen Dr. Lotay Tshering.
EU-Bhutan cooperation spans many sectors and has a long-term perspective
During the visit, the EU Ambassadors took stock of the process of implementation of a substantial program of support based on Bhutan's development priorities and in the perspective of helping it to prepare for ODA graduation. Ambassadors also met with the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industries who currently implement a fair trade project as well as represents the steering committee of ‘EU-Bhutan Trade Support Project’. Both initiatives aim at improving value addition, market linkages, setting up fair trade standards and the trade and investment regulatory framework for Bhutanese producers of horticulture and textile handicrafts thus ensuring that they enjoy better competitiveness in foreign markets. Projects currently in the pipeline with a view to agreement in the summer include disaster management and support to Bhutan's Parliament.
EU development cooperation with Bhutan
The EU is committed to supporting Bhutan's ambitious development agenda. The EU has tripled its financial assistance for the period 2014-2020 over the previous financial cycle from € 14 million to €52million (4 billion Ngultrum) to help the Bhutanese government in moving towards its goal of achieving self-reliance and inclusive socio-economic development. The EU supports capacity development for local governments and fiscal decentralization; sustainable agriculture and forestry and civil societies. In addition, the EU supports Bhutan's efforts in climate change adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk reduction, building its trade capacity and fair trade labelling. The core of EU assistance is provided through direct budget support to the government programs, according to its priorities. The EU and the Royal Government of Bhutan are already consulting about the post-2020 envelope in line with Bhutan's 12thDevelopment Plan and the possibility of further support after Bhutan's graduation from ODA in 2023.
About the European Union (EU)
The EU, which consists of 28 countries, has the world's largest economy and its third largest population, after China and India. Though richly diverse, the countries that make up the EU (its 'Member States') are all committed to the same basic values: peace, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. They have set up common institutions to make decisions on matters of joint interest at European level. By creating a frontier-free single market and a single currency (the euro) which has been adopted by 19 Member States, the EU has given a significant boost to trade and employment. It is also at the forefront of policies on sustainability globally.
The EU has had a very strong presence in Bhutan since 1982, in particular through various development cooperation projects through the years. It works closely with Bhutan to reduce poverty and diversify the economy, adopt to climate change and strengthen the democratisation process.