Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Malawi

Malawi and the EU

12/05/2016 - 14:25
EU relations with Country

An overview of relations between Malawi and the European Union

Political Framework

Partnership between the European Union and Malawi is based on the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. In a framework of respect for universal human rights, this landmark pact reaffirms the EU’s willingness to make a significant contribution to poverty eradication, sustainable development and gradual (regional and global) integration of African Caribbean and Pacific countries into the world economy.

Political and Policy dialogues

Relations between Malawi and the EU are traditionally cordial and close. Two EU Member States are represented at embassy level in Malawi, namely Germany and Ireland.

Cotonou Agreement

The Cotonou Agreement, notably its articles 8 to 13, defines the bilateral framework for the political dialogue between Malawi and the EU. Other conventions and political commitments include the EU-Africa Strategic Partnership, the Country Strategy Paper (CSP) and the National Indicative Programme (NIP). In addition there are the Malawi strategic documents, in particular the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II 2011/12-2015/6 and the National Export Strategy 2013-2018.

Further dialogue and cooperation between Malawi and the EU also involve the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

The European Union remains Malawi's largest world-trading partner in terms of total trade (20.8 %. Malawi's exports to the EU totaled EUR 256 million in 2014, representing 34.5 % of Malawi's total exports to the rest of the world, while its imports from the EU made up EUR 161 million (12.8 % of the country's imports).

Malawi's exports to the EU consist mainly of beverages and tobacco, sugar and tea whilst the country mainly imports chemicals, machinery/appliances and transport equipment from the EU.

Malawi benefits from preferential treatment and its exports to the EU market enjoy quota and duty-free access under the Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement.


Trade and private sector development have been and remain an important pillar of the EU development cooperation in Malawi. The EU has been actively addressing capacity building towards trade and private sector development through support to the sector wide approach, which in turn is founded on Malawi's comprehensive National Export Strategy (NES 2013-2018).

Activities in support to trade and private sector development are envisaged also through the various focal areas of the EU-Malawi cooperation strategy, for instance through the promotion of commercial agriculture or technical and vocational training. Increased direct support to the private sector is also country, contributing towards structural transformation being achieved through the European Investment Bank's engagement in the of Malawi's productive economy.

Since 1976 the European Commission has provided an estimated amount of more than 2 Billion euros in terms of development aid to Malawi. Together with its Member States, the EU provides roughly € 300 million annually in development assistance to Malawi, more than any other development partner. This has over the years been allocated to the following sectors:

  • Transport and infrastructures
  • Agriculture and rural development
  • Macroeconomic and budget support
  • Governance and social sectors
  • Environment and natural resources
  • Trade and investment (private sector)
  • Other activities such as technical cooperation, support activities etc.

This development assistance is provided in the form of grants, meaning that the Malawi government does not have to repay any of the allocated funding.


The EU in Malawi has a longstanding relationship with civil society. CSOs are consulted in the process of identifying and formulating priorities for the EU's cooperation with Malawi and they are supported to play more meaningful role in dialogue with the central government and at local level.  The EU Delegation holds regular consultations with civil society, in particular in the main areas of focus i.e. agriculture, education and governance.

Moreover the EU has been providing financial support to CSOs through specific projects like the Capacity Building for Non State Actors (NSOs) Programme (from 2006 to mid-2011) as well as thematic instruments including the Civil Society and Local Authorities and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. In addition, Malawian non-state actors implement a variety of other EU-funded projects which complement the provision of public services by the state in areas like agriculture, food security, water and sanitation and education. 

Under the 11th EDF, the EU intends to channel its support to the, CSOs through the newly created Tilitonse Foundation. This will allow us to provide flexible grants mechanism to working in the area of democratic governance and accountability. The Foundation will also be supported by Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom.

In case of questions please contact the EU Delegation's civil society focal person, Ms. Juliette Rubenstein at

Editorial Sections: