European Union External Action


Benin and the EU

11/05/2016 - 14:55
EU relations with Country

Relations between the European Union (EU) and Benin have been built on more than 50 years of diplomatic relations.

Benin and the EU maintain regular political dialogue through ‘article 8’ formal dialogue as per the Cotonou Agreement, fund provider – Benin Government dialogue under the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy and ad hoc dialogue with the country’s different Ministers and institutions. Very regular contact is also maintained with civil servants as part of ongoing operations.

These talks naturally cover the support programmes, but they also aim towards joint views on matters of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism, positions on the international stage, etc. The EU also supports Benin in dealing with certain security challenges, such as maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and cross-border crime. 

Through its different programmes, the EU supports human rights and democracy. It promotes an environment where civil society can thrive, and supports civil society’s expert and structured involvement. The reference document is the road map for engagement with civil society, established in consultation with EU countries represented in Benin and Switzerland. Support for democracy includes assistance with running free and open elections at all levels. Through its programmes and political dialogue, the EU also supports an effective process of decentralisation in Benin in order to bring the authorities and citizens closer together.   


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Despite the healthy macroeconomic results over the past few years, a 5 % growth rate is not enough to compensate for the demographic growth rate, over 3 %, which is having a negative impact on poverty reduction. Financial poverty in Benin remains a concern: it was estimated at 40.1 % in 2015, compared to 36.2 % in 2011.  

The weak business climate hinders the country’s economic growth, which is positioned 158th out of 189 countries in the 2016 Doing Business rankings. Some reforms have seen the country ranked among the 10 best reformers for the second time in a row, however these improvements cover a limited number of areas. Tax payments, inefficient administration, corruption and dispute settlements are still the main bottlenecks.

Aware of these economic challenges, the Government is proposing a growth model based on good governance and public-private partnerships. The fight against corruption and an efficient judicial system will be essential to achieving the reforms outlined, so that resources can be sustainably managed and the rule of law strengthened.

The EU looks to assist Benin with these reforms through a new ‘Good Governance and Development Contract’. Budget support will be one of the key tools for cooperation between the EU and Benin. It provides support to the Government’s macroeconomic reforms programme, the reforms in managing public finances and the fight against impunity with a judicial system that listens to those being tried. 

The ‘Everything but arms’ initiative, independent of negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) and the Cotonou trade system, was unilaterally introduced by the EU in 2002 for all Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the world. Benin, as a member of this group, benefits from duty-free access to the EU market for ‘all products except arms’. There is no obligation to reciprocate under this. 

Negotiations relating to the EPAs between the EU and ACP countries aim to replace, as of 1 January 2008, the trade component of the Cotonou Agreement. The previous trade system was incompatible with WTO rules, as it discriminated against developing countries that were not part of the ACP group.   

The EPAs are reciprocal preferential trade agreements, whereby each party agrees to remove restrictions to imports from the other party for an agreed period. The advantage of the EPAs is the financial aid that comes with them and that helps in implementing them, and also the promotion of regional integration so that ACP countries can be included in the global economy.

In February 2014, West Africa and the EU concluded negotiations on this Agreement.

More details on the 2014 agreements and the partnership between the two regions can be found on the ‘Publications’ page of DG TRADE: EU-West Africa EPA.

Under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF 2014-2020), in the National Indicative Programme (NIP), support totalling €372 million (XOF 244 billion) is being allocated to Benin for:

  • support for good governance for development;
  • sustainable development in agriculture;
  • access to modern and sustainable energy.

Apart from the 11th EDF, Benin also benefits from many other instruments:

  • the Regional Indicative Programme (RIP), which covers different regional projects (infrastructure, migration, commerce);
  • budgets for specific areas;
  • the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace;
  • the EU’s Water Facility and Energy initiatives;
  • efforts undertaken by the European Investment Bank.

You can find more useful information and documents on Development Cooperation by clicking on the ‘Projects’ tab.

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