Since 2001, the European Union (EU) and its Member States have partnered with Afghanistan and the wider international community in pursuit of a common strategic interest in combating extremism and terrorism while simultaneously working towards peace and development in the country.
However, in recent years Afghanistan has been confronted with a deteriorating security situation and increasing insurgent and terrorist pressure. Despite some improvements, democratic institutions and the legal framework for elections are still weak. Human rights are precarious, in particular in relation to women and children. Afghanistan has made progress in its economic and social development but a fragile economic framework, lack of infrastructure and high numbers of Afghans returning from neighbouring countries, put this progress into danger. Furthermore, rising insecurity coupled with a lack of economic perspective has led many Afghans to leave the country, triggering an increased irregular migration flow, notably towards Europe.
In response to the current challenges that Afghanistan faces, and in line with the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 18 July 2016, the EU and its Member States will need to have a truly comprehensive strategy to support the country’s development to a self-reliable and sustainable state.
This focus of the new strategy is on shaping the necessary conditions for a political process that can pave the way for a political solution to the conflict, while further developing the country’s institutions and economy to improve resilience and move it out of fragility, while also addressing migration-related issues.