European Union External Action

West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA and the EU

The European Union (EU) works with the Palestinian Authority (PA) to build up the institutions of a future democratic, independent and viable Palestinian State living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.

The EU is active in the Middle East Peace Process and is a member of the Middle East Quartet (with the United States, Russia and the United Nations), working towards a two-state solution based on the 2003 Roadmap for Peace. These efforts are regularly debated by the EU Council of Ministers.

In the context of the ‘European Neighbourhood Policy’ (ENP), the EU has entered into a number of partnership arrangements which collectively guide the relationship between the EU and the Palestinian Authority. These include the:

  • Interim Association Agreement on Trade and Cooperation, signed with the PLO on behalf of the PA and setting out the legal basis for EU-PA relations;
  • European Neighbourhood Instrument, which defines the EU financial support for Palestine for the implementation of ENP initiatives;
  • ENP bilateral Action Plan, which sets out an agreed agenda for political and economic reforms. This entered into force in 2013;
  • Single Support Framework (SSF), covering 2014, 2015 and 2016 and setting out assistance priorities for the three sectors of intervention on a multi-annual basis.

The EU is the most important donor for the Palestinian people, and a reliable and predictable partner. It is present at all levels of Palestinian life, from supporting the establishment of the future Palestinian State and building new infrastructure across Palestine to supporting Palestinian civil society.

Most of the European Union's assistance to the PA is channelled through PEGASE mechanism. PEGASE is the financial mechanism launched in 2008 to support the Palestinian Authority Reform and Development Plan (2008-2010) and subsequent Palestinian national plans. It contributes to the payment of PA civil servants' salaries and pensions, and social allowances for the poorest and most vulnerable Palestinian families. PEGASE also supports major reform and development programmes in key ministries to help prepare for statehood. PEGASE comes under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) for 2014-2020.

The EU also funds various infrastructure projects, judicial and financial reform initiatives, and programmes supporting Palestinian security, health and education systems.

The Occupied Palestinian Territory is part of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, which aims to create a free trade area in the region. Its trade with the EU is governed by the Interim Association Agreement and the Agreement for further liberalisation of various agricultural and fish products of 2012.

In 2016, trade between the EU and the Occupied Palestinian Territory amounted to EUR 210 million. Imports from Palestine to the EU mainly include:

  • Agricultural products
  • Raw materials
  • Stone, plaster and cement

The EU believes that greater trade with Europe can bring increasing economic growth and stability for Palestine. It is working with Israel and other Southern Mediterranean partners to improve Palestinian access to international markets.

The EU has provided humanitarian aid to help meet Palestinians’ basic needs since 2000. Every year it contributes EUR 82 million to UNRWA, which works with Palestinian refugees. It also channels support through ECHO, the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

ECHO works with many active partners in Palestine, including United Nations agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and international non-governmental organisations. ECHO also finances humanitarian programmes that benefit Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The Commission's assistance currently targets 300 000 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Since 2000, ECHO has provided EUR 700 million of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The EU has also developed a long-standing relationship with Palestinian civil society and provides significant support for civil society initiatives. Major EU programmes support good governance, human rights, peace-building, gender and culture. In July 2014, the EU adopted a Roadmap for the EU's Better Engagement with Palestinian Civil Society.