The European Union's political and economic relations with Nepal were established in 1973 and are guided by its fundamental principles to achieve peace, stability, democracy, human rights and prosperity. With the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 by all the Member States of the European Union and the creation of the European External Action Service in December 2010, the European Union ushered in a new era of cooperation and the strengthening of European institutions. With these changes came a change of name and responsibility: the Delegation, which formerly represented the European Commission to Nepal, is now a fully -fledged diplomatic mission and has become the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal. The incumbent EU Ambassador to Nepal, Ms. Veronica Cody, submitted her credentials to President Bidya Devi Bhandari on 23 October, 2017.
Political relations between EU and Nepal have progressed over the past decades, to become an increasingly relevant partnership focusing on mutual respect. Biennial Joint Commissions are the most visible feature of an ongoing dialogue following the entry into force of an EU-Nepal Co-operation Agreement in 1996. During meetings of the Joint Commission, the Government of Nepal and the EU counterparts exchange views on issues of common concern such as peace and stability, development, human rights and trade. They also take the opportunity to review current projects being implemented through EU assistance, as well as any new ones being considered.
Political relations are further strengthened through regular visits of EU Parliamentarians to Nepal and exchange of visits of high ranking officials and political personalities between Nepal the EU headquarters. The EU has been an ardent supporter of peace and stability in Nepal. Following the historic peace agreement in Nepal in 2006, two Constituent Assembly elections have taken place and in 2015 the country promulgated its new Constitution, an important milestone in its history. EU Election Observation Missions observed both the elections to help ensure free, fair and impartial elections, during the country's critical transition.
The EU has reaffirmed its commitment to assist the elected Government of Nepal. The EU remains a consistent supporter of a democratic and inclusive constitution. The EU's political relation with Nepal, along with its development cooperation efforts, aims to build stability and economic, environmental and social development in Nepal.
The European Union – including the EU Delegation and the EU Member States - is the biggest provider of development aid to Nepal. There has been a significant increase in the volume of aid over the last four decades of EU-Nepal cooperation. Through the years EU-Nepal cooperation has seen important changes, reflecting the constant assessment and adoption of appropriate strategies required to maintain an effective development agenda. This is translated, among other things, in a move from individual project support, to a more holistic sector budget support which the EU is currently pursuing in Nepal. The overall development cooperation strategy has been worked out jointly with the Government of Nepal. The Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP), which covers a period of seven years, guides the development assistance of EU to Nepal.
In the context of Nepal, the European Union has been focussing mainly on three sectors: education, rural development, strengthening democracy and decentralisation. Following the devastating 2015 earthquakes reconstruction also became an important focus. Apart from these sectors, we are also active in areas as varied as the protection and promotion of human rights, food security, conservation of the environment, safe migration, assisting to ensure transparent and effective public finance management, energy, and introducing sustainable production and consumption practices. We are also working with the Government of Nepal and local communities in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation. The EU has tripled its assistance to Nepal from € 120 million to € 360 million for the period 2014-2020.
With the overarching goal of poverty reduction the EU has been working closely with the Government but also through International Organisations, jointly with EU Member States and with civil society and the private sector to advance development in areas such as basic and primary education, integrated rural development, trade and economic capacity, human rights, preservation of the culture of indigenous communities, energy, climate change and environmental conservation, urban development, food security, conflict mitigation, and peace building among others.