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The relations between the European Union and Lesotho are conducted within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement, a global agreement signed in 2000 between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union.
The Delegation of the European Union to the Kingdom of Lesotho is part of the extended network of Union representations abroad placed under the responsibility of the High Representative / Vice President of the Commission with the duty to assist her in carrying out her mission of representing the Union and enforcing its external policy.
The Delegation's main task is to implement the Cotonou Partnership Agreement linking the EU Member States to the African Caribbean and Pacific Countries including Lesotho. The central objective of this partnership is to reduce and ultimately eradicate poverty through sustainable development, the progressive integration into the world economy and the promotion of the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
The main interlocutor for the implementation of the EU's cooperation with Lesotho is the National Authorising Officer (NAO), Dr. 'Mamphono Khaketla, Lesotho's Minister of Finance of Lesotho.
The roles and responsibilities of the NAO as per Article 35 of the Cotonou Agreement (see: Consolidated text of the Cotonou Agreement) include coordination, programming, regular monitoring and reviewing of the implementation of activities under EU cooperation with Lesotho.
Under the umbrella of Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, the Political dialogue takes place with the objective of exchanging information, fostering mutual understanding and to facilitate the establishment of agreed priorities and shared agendas. The dialogue is also to facilitate and strengthen cooperation within international fora and to promote and sustain a system of effective multilateralism. It focuses on specific political issues of mutual concern or of general significance at the international level.
The European Union's programme of financial and technical co-operation supports the implementation of Lesotho's National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP). There is an indicative EU funding allocation of € 142 million for the 11th European Development Fund (EDF 11) National Indicative Programme for the period 2014-2020.
In agreement with the Government of Lesotho, and following extensive stakeholder consultations, EDF 11 support is focusing on the three priority sectors of water, energy and governance. The funding allocations are as follows: Water 55% (€ 78 million); Energy 20% (€ 28 million); Governance 15% (€ 22 million); Support to civil society 5% (€ 7 million); with the remaining 5% (€ 7 million) being set aside for support to the identification and formulation of actions that will be implemented under EDF 11. Actions under these sectors will be implemented by either the Government with the support of technical assistance, by CSOs or by implementing bodies such as UN agencies.
The EU Delegation in Lesotho ensures close cooperation with other donors, including EU Member States, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other development banks.
In addition, a number of other projects aimed atenhancing respect for human rights and strengthening the capacity of civil society are being carried out under the thematic funding instrument of the EU, the European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy (EIDHR).
The EU is supporting Lesotho to integrate into the world’s trading system so that she can benefit from the global economy. While trade is not a guaranteed route to economic growth for developing countries, trade and openness to the global economy play an important role in creating jobs and prosperity in Lesotho.
The EU is convinced that international trade is part of the path to sustained economic growth and development and that Lesotho needs to make trade a high priority in her development strategies and tackle some structural problems in her economy which hamper business activity.
In order to achieve this objective of integration into the world economy, the EU can mobilize different tools:
Bilateral trade: the EU aims, through its trade policy, to ensure that Lesotho is able to benefit from duty free and quota free access to the EU market;
Economic Partnership Agreement: recognising that unilateral preferences under Cotonou did not bring about meaningful diversification of their economies, ACP partners agreed to move towards concluding reciprocal and WTO-compatible Economic Partnership Agreements, progressively removing barriers to trade and enhancing cooperation in all areas related to trade.
Aid for Trade: financial assistance specifically targeted at helping developing countries develop their capacity to trade, to produce, as well as the institutional and economic infrastructure necessary to expand trade.