Delegation of the European Union to Namibia

Namibia and the EU

12/05/2016 - 15:13
EU relations with Country

Namibia gained its independence on 21 March 1990, inspiring people all over the world with its peaceful transition to a sovereign democratic State. The European Union (EU), at the time still the European Community, welcomed the new country and established governmental relations the day after independence.

Namibia is an important partner for the EU, a reference for good governance and an influential voice in the Southern African Region. Its governments have been successfully reinforcing the foundations of the new nation by gradually putting in place the elements of an inclusive, democratic society with respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Human rights and democracy are guiding principles for the European Union and considered to be of vital importance for initiatives aiming to alleviate poverty and eradicate social, economic or political exclusion.  In Namibia the strategic priorities for EU action on promoting human rights and supporting democracy at local level for the period 2016-2020 are: 1. Promotion of Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) Rights, including the lack of capacity to implement the legal ESC framework in full transparency;  2. Promotion of Women's Rights, including gender based violence (GBV); 3. Promotion of Children's Rights; 4. Promotion of Rights of minorities with special attention to indigenous/marginalised people.

In 2009, the European Union decided to reinforce its capacity to act beyond its frontiers by creating the European External Action Service (EEAS). The EU Delegations are an important element of the EEAS, and assume the representation of the Union beyond its frontiers. As sovereign States, the European Union members retain full capacity to run their bilateral affairs.

The Partnership between the European Union and Namibia 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 sustainable development and the gradual (regional and global) integration of African Caribbean and Pacific countries into the world economy. Namibia has made good progress and has reached the status of an ‘Upper Middle Income country’.

Development and trade cooperation are important pillars of the EU-Namibia partnership.

Diplomatic relations are governed by the EU-Namibia Agreement, which was signed in 1991. The Agreement established mutual recognition of the diplomatic status of the Republic of Namibia and of the European Union (then Commission of the European Communities) See full agreement.

The cornerstone of EU-Namibia relations is the Cotonou Agreement, signed in 2000.  This Agreement regulates the relations between the EU and the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) countries.  The Agreement is aimed at the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty, while contributing to sustainable development and to the gradual integration of ACP countries into the world economy.  The Cotonou Agreement was revised in 2010 to include a commitment to fight impunity and to promote criminal justice through the International Criminal Court. It is designed to last for a period of 20 years and based upon four main principles: Equality of partners and ownership of development strategies; Participation of non-governmental actors (civil society, private sector, local authorities); Dialogue and mutual obligations (e.g. respect for human rights); Differentiation and regionalisation See full Cotonou Agreement .

In March 2013, EU Heads of Mission, resident in Windhoek agreed to take forward the process of Joint Programming in Namibia.  The Joint EU Response Strategy aims at enhancing the effectiveness and impact of European Development Cooperation by providing a single framework to guide all European development partners' support to Namibia.  Joint programming increases transparency, predictability and efficiency of our development cooperation, avoids duplication of efforts and helps to convey our core principles and values and uses taxpayers' funds more efficiently.  The priority areas identified for support by EU Development Partners are fully aligned to the contents and period of Namibia's 4th National Development Plan (NDP4). Focal areas of the EU Joint Response Strategy for Namibia during the period 2014-2017 include: economic priorities (agriculture and tourism), basic enablers (institutional environment, education and skills and infrastructure), capacity development and support for the specific role of civil society in strengthening democracy.  In total, European Development Partners planned to provide some N$ 3.5 Billion in grant funding between now and the end of NDP4. In addition, loans may be offered by European financial institutions, mainly for large infrastructure investments and private sector development. See full Joint EU Response Strategy for Namibia.

The European Development Fund (EDF) is the EU's main instrument for providing development aid to ACP countries.  The multi-annual National Indicative Programme (NIP) represents an important step in the programming of EU aid under the EDF. Preparation of the NIP starts by defining the strategy and priorities for EU development assistance.  These preparations are done in close collaboration with the partner country (the 4th National Development Plan in the case of Namibia) to ensure that the NIP supports the national priorities of the country and areas where EU assistance adds value. The NIP is subject to regular dialogue between the EU Delegation and Namibia to ensure coordination, progress monitoring and periodic reviews. 

The 11th EDF NIP for Namibia was formulated in line with the country's Fourth National Development Plan.  The indicative funding allocation for the 11th EDF amounts to Euro 68 Million, over the period 2014 - 2020.  It will focus on the following sectors: Education and Skills and Agriculture.  Allocations have also been set aside to support Civil Society and other non-focal areas. National Indicative Programme.

Ever since becoming a sovereign state, Namibia enjoyed preferential access to the European market.  Today all Namibian exports to the European Union enter the market duty and quota free.

Namibia's trade balance with the EU is positive.  In 2013 Namibian exports to the EU had a value in excess of 12 Billion Namibia Dollars and the value of imports from the EU was less than 10 Billion Namibia Dollars resulting in surplus of export earnings of more than 2 Billion Namibia Dollars.

Since the early 2000 years, the EU has been promoting a new type of regional, multilateral trade arrangement, known as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).  EPAs are comprehensive trade and development agreements and their objectives are to reduce poverty, diversify economies and create employment through enhanced intra-regional integration and through a carefully managed opening towards the world economy.  EPAs are compatible with the requirements of the World Trade Organisation.  They provide benefits for the EU's partner countries that are not matched by any other trade agreements worldwide.

Namibia has participated in EPA negotiations with the EU and other Members of the SADC- EPA Group, namely Lesotho, Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland.  These negotiations were concluded on 15 July 2014. On the 10th of June all parties signed the EPA during a ceremony in Kasane, Botswana and on 6th of July 2016 the National Assembly of Namibia ratified the Economic Partnership Agreement.  Within the framework of this Agreement  Namibia will continue enjoying duty and quota free access to the EU market complemented with improved regulations on cumulation, infant industry protection, safeguards and other provisions to take into account Namibia's development stage and its aspirations to reinforce its economic integration within SADC and Africa.  At the same time, the EU will benefit from improved access to the Namibian market, for the benefit of consumers and investors.  The link for the EPA document is:


What is the EU Trade Helpdesk?

The European Commission put in place a freely accessible online service that informs business in and outside the EU on how to export to Europe. The tool relects real time the EU's import conditions for any type of product, be it machinery, chemicals, textiles, food or wines.

Who is it for?

Businesses within and outside of the European Union, in particular small and medium enterprises, business organizations, chambers of commerce, export promotion agencies in non-EU countries etc.

What can companies find there?

Core part of the database are the product requirements, such as sanitary and phytosanitary rules, technical standards, labelling rules for the EU market. They are regularly updated according to changes in the EU legislation and can be searched by product-code. The database also includes the applied import duties for all goods listed in the EU tariff schedule information on import procedures for the EU and for each Member State, together with contacts of competent authorities in each Member State.

The website and database contains the product-specific rules of origin for each of our trade agreements and preferrential schemes. This includes information on the proofs of origin required in order to claim preferential duties at the customs.  Furthermore the VAT and excise duty rates in the 28 Member State and trade statistics complement this information.

New site to the Trade Helpdesk - your online guide to access Europe's market

!! New Brochure "On Economic Partnership Agreement "Putting Partnership into Practice"

This brochure outlines the purpose of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) as well as the State of Play. The web-ling is:


European Commission publishes notices concerning cumulation in the EU under the following EPAs:  SADC, ESA, CARIFORUM and Pacific.

These notices give EU businesses the opportunity of cumulation with certain ACP countries and OCTs when exporting to SADC, ESA, CARIFORUM and Pacific. Find below the link to the Official Journal:

Cumulation in the EU under EU-ESA, EU-CARIFORUM and EU-Pacific EPAs - Notice Nr. 2019/C 69/02 of 22 February 2019 – OJ C 69, 22.2.2019, p. 2-3 -

Cumulation in the EU under EU-SADC EPA – Notice Nr. 2018/C 407/07 of 12 November 2018 – OJ C 407, 12.11.2019, p. 8 -

Reference in DG Taxud’s website on preferential origin – The Countries of ACP -



Development cooperation is a crucial element of the EU's activity in Namibia.  Namibia has demonstrated strong ownership of its development, translating the long-term "Vision 2030" into successive five-year development plans. 

Most of the EU's support to Namibia is articulated through the European Development Fund (EDF) and programmed through a multi-annual National Indicative Programme (NIP). On the 12th of May 2015 the new NIP for Namibia under the 11th EDF was signed. Other sources of EU engagement with Namibia are various budget lines (financed directly from the EU budget in support of for instance non state actors and human rights); Regional Funding  (through the Regional Indicative Programme) and via Continental Programmes, e.g. the Pan-African Programme provides support to the Africa-EU Strategic  Partnership, which supports projects with a trans-regional, continental or global added-value in areas of shared interest, such as peace and security, and democracy among others.  Other support measures include soft loans and investment capital made available by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and contributions to the Global Fund to fight HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. See full NIP for Namibia under the 11th EDF.

EU support to Namibian development will concentrate on some main sectors:

Education: The EU will continue its support to the education sector for the period 2014-2020 (under the 11th EDF), devoting a budget of Euros 36 million to this end.  It will focus on pre-primary education and early childhood development, as well as a new area, namely vocational training.  Under the 10th EDF (2007 to 2013), the EU assisted the Namibian Government's efforts in promoting equitable access to quality education service delivery and technical assistance for institutional strengthening and capacity building.  The results were very positive: drop-out rate declined, while the enrolment rate in pre-primary school, the survival rate in Grade 7 and the rate of qualified primary teachers all increased significantly.

Rural Development and Infrastructure: The EU will provide an indicative budget of Euro 20 million under the new NIP.  The programme, currently under development, will seek to develop the livestock value chain in the Northern Communal Areas.  Linking producers to markets will have a positive impact on their livelihoods, on job creation and on curbing overstocking. The EU support to rural development under the 10th EDF focused on three key programmes: implementation of the national water and sanitation strategies to assist in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); support to climate change adaptation and mitigation through sustainable rangeland management and conservation agriculture; support to Communal Land Development to promote commercialization of agricultural and livestock production in the communal areas.

Good Governance: The EU will renew its support to the National Planning Commission during the 2014-2020 periods.  The programme has contributed to supporting the realisation of national development goals and poverty reduction programmes through partnerships with the Namibian Parliament, the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Auditor-General.

Support to Civil Society and Non-State Actors: Under the 11th EDF, the EU will continue to assist in increasing the capacity of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).  The EU funded the Namibia Civil Society Support Programme, aimed at strengthening civil society's contribution to sustainable development and socio-economic justice in Namibia by supporting the Nangof Trust and the Civil Society Foundation of Namibia (CSFN).  Through grants allocated under the 'European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights' (EIDHR) and the 'Non-State Actors and Local Authorities', the EU has contributed to raising awareness on specific matters like human rights, gender, minorities and LGBTI rights.

Furthermore, the EU awarded Environment, food and EIDHR grants under the global call for proposals also between 2007 and 2013.

Gender: The EU firmly supports gender equality and empowerment of women worldwide, working towards the removal of obstacles such as legislation, social norms and gender stereotypes to ensure that women and girls are given a voice and participate fully in social, economic, political and civil life. The crucial significance of Gender in EU Development Policies is recognized in various policy documents. The EU Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality highlights as one of its five thematic priority areas the promotion of gender equality and women's rights across the world. Furthermore, in the new European Consensus on Development, the promotion of women's rights and empowerment of women and girls and their protection will be a priority across all actions. Namibia, like many other countries grapples with a number of challenges in this sector - such as socio-economic disparities,  gender based violence and others. In this respect it is important to understand the underlying issues and data in order to respond effectively.  The  compilation of the "Namibia Gender Analysis 2017" was facilitated by the EU and has the objective to facilitate evidence-based interventions. The report  deals with key gender topics and can serve as a reference  for government and Development Partners.

Health: The EU supports the government's strategy to fast-track the achievement of MDGs 4 and 5 (Maternal and Child Health) through a 10 Million Euro 'Programme for accelerating the reduction of maternal and child mortality in Namibia' (PARMaCM), implemented by the World Health Organization in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Services.  PARMaCM contributed to improving access to focused antenatal care and quality of delivery and postnatal care; strengthening routine immunization, child health services, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV services. The EU, together with its Member States, is also the main contributor to the Global Fund and supports Namibia's fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria with approximately Euro 180 million.

European Investment Bank (EIB) has an on-going portfolio of Euro 290 million that includes, for instance Ohorongo Cement and the Caprivi Interconnector.  EIB continues to be ready to support investments for projects in logistical infrastructure, renewable energy, water and sanitation and private sector development in support to Small and Medium Enterprises.

Namibia has a rich civil society sector that provides a link between government and communities and contributes towards poverty reduction, good governance and democracy.  The EU therefore focuses on promoting an environment conducive to these organisations, ensuring meaningful and structured participation in domestic policies and increasing their capacity as development actors.

The "Namibia Civil Society Support Programme" aims at strengthening civil society's contribution to sustainable development and socio-economic justice in Namibia by supporting the Nangof Trust in its role as an umbrella organisation for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Civil Society Foundation of Namibia (CSFN) as a funding vehicle that can generate, manage and disburse grants from donors for the benefit of CSOs.

The EU's involvement with CSOs, through grants allocated under the "European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights" and the "Non State Actors and Local Authorities" instrument have contributed to raising awareness on specific matters like human rights, gender, indigenous people and consciousness on various social topics like children living with hearing impairments, and promoting the equal rights of the LGBTI community in the country.

In September 2012, the European Commission adopted the Communication "The Roots of Democracy and Sustainable Development: Europe's engagement with Civil Society in External Relations". The new policy orientations - endorsed by the Council of the European Union - propose an enhanced and more strategic engagement with CSOs in partner countries, with a particular focus on local CSOs.  It also calls for a more strategic approach at country level for the EU and its Member States through the development of EU Roadmaps for engagement with civil society in each specific country.

See full communication "Roots of Democracy and Sustainable Development: Europe's engagement with Civil Society in External Relations"

The EU-Namibia Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society, covering the period 2018-2020  has been compiled through a consultative process led by the EU Delegation, in collaboration with the EU Member States and CSOs.  The purpose of this Roadmap is to establish a common strategic framework with a view to improving impact, predictability and visibility of EU actions. 

enlightenedFor more information, please see attached the full document:

During the period covered by the EU Roadmap, the EU Delegation will continue its support to increase the capacity of CSOs in their role as development actors by promoting an enabling environment for CSOs in Namibia.

EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2019

This report provides a first hand insight on EU actions in 2019 to address the challenges to human rights and democracy worldwide. EU Annual Report on Human Rights & Democracy 2019

Herewith an outline of Namibia's performance in 2019:


1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: As in previous years, the overall human rights and democracy situation in Namibia was quite satisfactory in 2019. The presidential and national assembly elections in Namibia took place on 27 November 2019. Elections were peaceful and credible even though the voting process proved particularly lengthy. However, an unprecedented bribery scandal over fishing quotas, involving the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Justice, as well as high-level staff of enterprises (the so called 'fish rot' scandal) led to the resignation of two ministers and impacted on the elections outcome. Two police/military operations aiming at curbing criminality (‘Hornkranz’ and ‘Operation Kalahari Desert’) were implemented with unjustified brutality and were heavily criticised by the population. In order to address the still alarming rates of gender-based violence, several draft family laws were introduced by the government in 2019 with the aim of advancing gender equality and economic security for vulnerable women and children in marriage and divorce. The implementation of social and economic rights remains a concern. Due to persisting economic downturn and fiscal constraints, unemployment, poverty and social inequality continue to be key challenges for the country and are affecting the human rights situation. Equal access to public services such as education, health, safe drinking water and sanitation remains to be achieved. On the rights of LGBTI persons, the situation is still worrying; several cases concerning same sex marriages are pending at Namibian Courts.

2. EU action - key focus areas: The EU continued to raise human rights and democracy issues with Namibian counterparts in various settings with particular attention to the promotion of (i) economic, social and cultural rights; (ii) women's rights and fight against gender based violence and (iii) children´s rights as well as the rights of persons belonging to minorities (with a focus on indigenous peoples/marginalised people).

3. EU bilateral political engagement: The Head of the EU Delegation has frequently spoken at events co-organised with other national and international stakeholders such as the World Press Freedom Day, co-organised with UNESCO. The launch and closure of projects are also used to pass important messages. The EU cooperated with the National Council and UNICEF to promote children’s rights through a human rights campaign launched in June. In partnership with the Namibia Community Broadcasters Network, the EU participated in June in the launching of the ‘Community Focus on 2019 Elections Programme’ aiming at strengthening Voter Education through capacity building of eight community radio stations. Due to the absence of a Head of the EU Delegation from end of April until 1 September, no Article 8 Political Dialogue took place in 2019.

4. EU financial engagement: In 2019, the EU continued to provide financial support to several projects funded through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and other measures addressing key areas for a total amount of EUR 1,350,472. The EU is funding the following projects/programmes:

(i) The project ‘Survivors speak up – No more gender based violence’, has contributed to place the omnipresent human rights violation of gender-based violence (GBV) on the national media agenda. Service providers both from the government and from civil society have been trained in GBV sensitive approaches; psycho-social support and counselling has been provided to survivors,

(ii) The Museum Association of Namibia is implementing the grant ‘Promoting Culture and Combating Cultural Stereotypes through Museum Development’.

(iii) The ‘Protect, Preserve and promote indigenous cultures and languages’ is being implemented by the Namibian University for Science and Technology.

(iv) The Legal Assistance Center of Namibia, which targets the most isolated and vulnerable communities in Namibia, where GBV and corporal punishment is most prevalent and where people don’t have access to this sort of information otherwise.

(v) The ‘Museum Outreach Programme’ aims to contribute to community based and community-run museum development. It is implemented by the Goethe Institute Namibia and the University of Namibia and seeks to create space for dialogue and democratic participation for local communities and indigenous minorities.

A EUR 6,000,000 programme ‘Enhancing Participatory Democracy in Namibia’, financed by the EDF is being implemented together with the National Planning Commission. The international technical assistance is expected to be signed by March 2020.

5. Multilateral context: Regarding the follow up of the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in January 2016, out of 219 recommendations, 191 were accepted by the Government and 28 were noted. In order to deal with the UPR follow-up, the Ministry of Justice has created an Inter-ministerial Committee on Human Rights, including representatives from line Ministries and NGO´s. The committee has a partner with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who organised training for Namibian stakeholders on how to implement the recommendations.

The Government did not ensure an appropriate follow-up regarding International Criminal Court (ICC).


The EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2018  Herewith a link for the update on Namibia:


The European Union (EU) is one of the world's main humanitarian aid donors.  The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department's (ECHO) mandate is to provide emergency assistance and relief to the victims of natural disasters or armed conflict outside the EU. The aid is intended to go directly to those in distress, irrespective of race, religion or political convictions. Since independence, the European Union has been responding to Namibia's humanitarian needs both in terms of funding and activities, especially in strengthening emergency prevention efforts and preparedness and response and has taken on this challenge from the point of realizing the Hyogo Framework of Action in Namibia. The European Union continues to strengthen resilience to shocks triggered by floods and droughts through the enhancement of local capacity to adapt to the impact of climate change.

Editorial Sections: