On December 5, 2019, EU Delegation to Nepal organized a meeting with Journalists at Hotel Shangrila to brief on the 2019 EU in-country activities. Eighteen journalists from various media such as print, online, and radio attended the meeting. Ambassador Veronica Cody first provided an introduction to EU and Nepal Development Cooperation emphasizing the EU’s key area of focus: sustainable rural development (including nutrition), education (including TVET) and strengthening democracy and decentralization. Then, the floor was open to questions and further discussion.
The journalists enquired of progress made during the period of 2014-2020; towards capacity building of local governments to ensure a smooth transition to federalism; creating an investment-friendly environment and Nepal's plans for becoming a middle-income country; and the direction of future EU’s support.
Answering the questions of the journalists, Ambassador Cody highlighted that there have been satisfactory results in the nutrition and education sector, especially in relation to access to education; however, the new challenge is to improve the quality of education. Reflecting on her recent field visit to the Far-western region of Nepal, Ambassador Cody emphasized the willingness of the local and provincial governments to participate in local development and their eagerness to contribute towards a successful transition to federalism. Regarding international investment, Nepal benefits from the Everything But Arms regulation, an EU initiative that grants duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market. However, challenges remain in ensuring that Nepal benefits fully from EU's most favourable trade regime. Dedicated EU support is provided to accompany the Government in its continuous efforts to improve the business environment and attract FDI, including through the recently agreed EU trade and investment programme. Moreover, the EU also supports direct investment by blending its grants with credits of the European Investment Bank and/or other international financial institutions. The EU grant element can be used in a strategic way to attract additional financing for important investments from EU partner countries by reducing exposure to risk and ensure increased access to public services, like in the case of the Chilime-Trishuli transmission system, co-financed by EIB, German Development Bank, and EU.
The Ambassador also mentioned that EU support to Nepal will also continue after its graduation to middle-income status, both through an updated trade facilitation regime as well through EU's development cooperation policy.
A politically stable environment, ease of doing business, and a friendly and predictable regulatory framework are all critical conditions for attracting foreign direct investment and maximizing finance for the sustainable development of the country, she noted.
The EU’s focus is towards a sustainable future, therefore, the up-coming cooperation with Nepal will increase its focus towards addressing climate change issues, promoting circular and green economy and digitalization, while accompanying Nepal's transition towards an inclusive and democratic federal state.