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Sudan is the third largest country in Africa in terms of area with a population of around 40 million. Much like Europe, Sudan remains diverse, encompassing various linguistic, religious, cultural and ethnic communities.
The relations between Sudan and the European Union (EU) began in 1975. The EU is represented in Sudan by a fully accredited diplomatic mission. The EU Delegation located in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum is headed by the EU Ambassador and forms part of a network of 140 EU Delegations across the globe.
The EU engages in a political dialogue with Sudanese interlocutors. It provides development assistance (€0.7 billion since 1993) and humanitarian aid (more than €1.2 billion since 1994). The 2016 EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, which is a basis for EU's activity in Sudan, focuses on security, global resilience, dealing with conflicts, regional collaboration and global governance.
The EU Delegation undertakes intense coordination with EU Member States in these areas and also collaborates on public diplomacy to maintain visibility, awareness and understanding about the EU.
The EU wants to see a strong, secure, successful and stable Sudan. The EU-Sudan dialogue is focused on four priorities, namely peace and stability, inclusive and sustainable development and prosperity, democratisation and greater respect for human rights and addressing migration. The EU conducts dialogue with Sudanese officials, political parties, youth organisations, women and youth groups, religious, parliamentary, business and civil society leaders. The dialogue addresses common issues of interest, including global challenges such as climate change and regional issues such as migration and cooperation in the Nile Basin. The EU encourages Sudan's constructive engagement with its neighbours and supports regional integration and trans-boundary cooperation.
Given these aims, the EU pursues an open, genuine, and comprehensive interaction with the Sudanese stakeholders, despite the ICC arrest warrant against Sudanese leaders and Sudan's decision not to ratify the revised Cotonou Agreement. The EU does not apply own sanctions on Sudan (outside the ones agreed at the UN Security Council, mostly linked to arms embargo), respects the territorial integrity of Sudan and supports reform by peaceful means.
The EU Delegation organises high level visits and exchanges. In July 2017, Koen Vervaeke, EEAS Managing Director for Africa met a number of interlocutors in Khartoum. In March 2017, Jan Figel, Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU, visited Sudan. Also in March 2017, 19 diplomats from the European Council Working Group for Africa visited Khartoum to discuss political developments. In April 2016, Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development visited Sudan. In February 2016, Ibrahim Ghandour, the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs paid a visit to Brussels. The members of the European Parliament also maintain a steady flow of visits to Sudan.
The EU addresses issues of peace, democracy, human rights, sustainable development and humanitarian assistance in regional and international fora. Hence, we collaborate actively with partners such as the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the League of Arab States and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). In this vein, the EU and its member states are funding and supporting the African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Moreover, the EU provides both technical and financial assistance to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for Sudan and South Sudan.
European cooperation in Sudan is implemented in accordance with the EU Short Term Strategy (2016-2017) for Sudan and global EU Development policies, notably the 2017 EU European Consensus, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Commission Communication on Forced Displacement and Development, the Joint Communication on A Strategic Approach to Resilience in the EU's external action, the EU Agenda on Migration, the Valletta Action Plan. The current portfolio of EU projects and programmes spans across the sectors of health, education, agriculture, food security and migration. The EU also has important mechanisms to support democracy and human rights initiatives. Civil society plays a vital role in any society and hence it is also the focus of a large part of EU work in Sudan. Building on the experience and lessons from the European project, the EU also implements projects for regional integration, e.g. trade and energy.
Sudan is a host to, transit route and country of origin for 3.3 million internally displaced people and more than 800,000 refugees. In a very complicated context, the EU is seeking to support Sudan to manage these flows better. Our emphasis is on securing the human rights of these persons and giving them protection. Support to communities hosting these groups is also an EU priority.
As Sudan has not ratified the revised version of the Cotonou Agreement, the core instrument for EU engagement in Sudan is through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), through which the Sudanese population is benefitting from a EUR 100 million Special Measure. The country is also part of the EU response to the food security and El Niño crises and of the Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP) for the Horn of Africa, as well as benefitting from EUTF programmes implemented at regional level.
The current value of EU support for projects in Sudan is €275 million. Funding is provided from various EU sources such as the European Development Fund (EDF), the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Instrument contributing to Security and Peace (IcSP) and the Food Security budget lines. EU projects and programmes are implemented by 92 partner organisations, 25 of which are Sudanese. The EU does not provide support directly to the Government of Sudan. Support is provided via national and international NGOs, EU Member State Agencies and UN organisations. EU support is aligned with government strategies that target vulnerable groups and key sectors for sustainable development.
EU Development cooperation is largely undertaken in the peripheral areas of Darfur, East Sudan and in the southern border areas, as well as in Khartoum. Northern regions of Sudan are also targeted for support to improve resilience to climate change.
The EU is one of the world's largest humanitarian donors. It provides independent humanitarian aid to meet the needs of particularly vulnerable populations in Sudan. Conflicts have led to massive population displacements, severe food insecurity and excessively high levels of malnutrition.
Since 1994, the EU has disbursed more than €1.2 billion in humanitarian aid to help victims of these man-made and natural disasters.
The European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) acts on all fronts, helping thousands of forcibly displaced people and refugees while addressing the impacts of natural disasters and supporting the fight against malnutrition. EU humanitarian funds are enabling partners (NGOs, Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, UN agencies) to respond to the needs in the field of health and nutrition, water and sanitation, shelter, protection, emergency education, food security and livelihoods.
In light of the staggering needs, providing humanitarian assistance to the crisis affected people remains a priority for the EU. The European Commission supports a principled and needs-based approach aimed at providing assistance directly to the neediest people. Timely response is key, given the volatile environment and continuous emergency needs. ECHO maintains autonomous offices in Khartoum and Nyala, responsible for the assessment of humanitarian needs, the monitoring of humanitarian projects and the identification of gaps in the response.