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The special link between Sierra Leone and the European Union is reflected in the successive Conventions and partnership agreements signed between the European Union and the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) group of countries, to which Sierra Leone is a party.
Today, the European Union-Sierra Leone partnership is guided by the principles and objectives laid down in the revised Cotonou Agreement. In line with its provisions the European Union and the Government of Sierra Leone engage in regular political dialogue.
The cooperation between the European Union and the Government of Sierra Leone has a long history stretching back over 35 years. It has been guided by the principles and objectives of the successive ACP-EU Conventions and Partnership Agreement.
The principles and objectives agreed between the EU and the ACP group of States are adapted to the social and economic reality of Sierra Leone in the Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme that the Government of Sierra Leone and the European Commission (as the executive body of the European Union responsible for managing development assistance) jointly developed.
The 2014-2020 bilateral funding to Sierra Leone under the 11th European Development Fund follows priorities that have jointly been agreed with the government and reflect its own national strategy for development, the "Agenda for Prosperity". The EU funding amounts to €376 million - a significant increase as compared to previous years. Resources will focus on three sectors: government and civil society (€179 million), education (€80 million) and agriculture and food security (€60 million). The programme also provides for a €43 million specific intervention in the transport sector.
The European Union is committed to implement the aid effectiveness principles detailed in the Paris Declaration (2005) and Accra Agenda for Action (2009). In Sierra Leone the European Union has aligned its cooperation programme with the Government's own strategy and an increasing share of its financial support is using country systems (notably via budget support). The EU Delegation in Freetown actively coordinates its activities with other donors to avoid duplication and overlaps and is favouring pool funding mechanisms wherever possible to finance key projects.
Sierra Leone is one of the Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Member of the Mano River Union, and partner with the EU and coastal states from Senegal to Angola to the Gulf of Guinea Strategy for regional cooperation.
The EU is one of Sierra Leone's most important trading partners. Trade relations are governed by the Generalised System of Preferences; as a Least-Developed Country, Sierra Leone benefits from duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market under the "Everything but Arms" scheme. Sierra Leone is also part of the "Economic Partnership Agreement" (EPA) with the EU as a member of the ECOWAS.