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The first session of the Political Dialogue between the European Union and the government of the Union of the Comoros in accordance with Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement took place in June 2015.
The agenda included the political situation in the Comoros and the regional integration process for the Indian Ocean region, the political and economic situation in the European Union, governance, democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights, climate change, fisheries and the economic partnership agreement, among others.
Comoros, being a Least Developed Country (LDC), benefits from “Everything But Arms” arrangement (EBA). Comoros has full duty free and quota-free access to the EU for all their exports with the exception of arms and armaments. This makes it the most generous form of preferential treatment to LDCs globally.
Since the 1st European Development Fund (EDF) in 1958, the European Union and the Comoros have cooperated on:
The country has also benefited from other EU financial instruments, such as FLEX and VFLEX, Water and Energy Facilities, and budgetary lines for climate change, non-state actors and local authorities, and human rights.
The 11th EDF programme is aligned with the priorities of the new accelerated growth and sustainable development strategy for the Comoros for 2015-2019 (SCA2D). Based on a large consultation process, the focal sectors are in continuity with actions which have been implemented under the 10th EDF: Sustainable development of road and port transport infrastructures, vocational training, strengthening of the Rule of Law, and administrative and financial governance. The initial indicative envelope for the 11th EDF amounts to EUR 68 million.
With EUR 17 million, the 11th EDF gives priority to consolidating progress achieved under the 10th EDF in political and administrative governance. The 10th EDF has supported national strategic planning processes, the debt relief process, and the organisation of free and democratic elections.
In addition to the technical and financial contribution for the organisation of the presidential, legislative and local elections from 2014 to 2016, support will be provided to strengthen the institutions and citizen participation, in a peaceful climate which is favourable to consolidating the Rule of Law.
The new EUR 9 million support for the Justice sector under the 11th EDF aims at promoting equitable access to more effective and independent justice. There will be a focus on training of magistrates, accountability, the anti-corruption penal chain, and the upgrading of the penitentiary system.
Finally, the EU will support the public finance system to be more transparent, effective and compliant with international standards, together with other international partners, in order to help restore the fundamentals of economic growth.
With a EUR 27 million allocation under the 9th and the 10th EDF and EUR 10 million for the 11th EDF, education and professional training is a central priority for EU action in the Comoros. The EU has contributed to the construction and renovation of classrooms of primary, secondary and higher education establishments, as well as to the initial and ongoing training for teachers and support staff. Since the 10th EDF, the EU has also been supporting the Comorian authorities to set up an effective training system for professionals. The EU support is focused on integration in the labour market and public-private partnerships. Since youth employment is a government priority, the EU projects under the 10th and 11th EDFs work to fill the gap between the training offer and the requirements of the labour market, thus addressing one of the fundamentals of economic growth.
The EU has also allocated additional funding to the following sectors:
Access to drinking water, with a EUR 4.5 million water supply programme in Anjouan, co-funded with the French Development Agency (EUR 1.5 million)
Access to renewable energies: construction of the first solar power station in Mohéli – feeding into the network (EUR 2.3 million) – 25% co-funded by the national electricity company (MAMWE)
Improvement of the country’s resilience to climate change (EUR 3 million), including support for pilot actions by communities.
Support for non-state actors and local authorities (EUR 1 million in the final execution phase and EUR 3 million in the award phase), including actions for sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation, eco-tourism and strengthening the capacity of the newly elected local authorities.
The European Union funds a Support Programme for the Sustainable Development of the Transport Sector (PADDST), for a total amount of EUR 27 million, under the 10th EDF. The general objective of PADDST, which was launched in 2009, is to ensure the sustainable and coherent development of the road sector, so that it can contribute to the country’s economic growth and to reducing poverty.
The transport sector is recognised within the national strategy as a fundamental and driving sector for the rapid expansion of the Comorian economy. The EU has allocated almost EUR 27 million under the 10th EDF, to support the sustainable development of the road transport, including large-scale roadworks and a reform of the sector based on relaunching the second-generation road maintenance, relying on the private sector and strategic investment planning.
Under the 11th EDF EUR 36 million are allocated for the road and port sector strategic infrastructure (such as national roads 2 and 23 and the ports of Moroni and Mutsamudu) and the continuation of reforms for better governance. The objectives are to reduce the cost of transport, encourage the circulation of goods and people, and boost the competitiveness of the private sector. Additional funds of EUR 73 million are pre-identified to achieve these objectives with the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and European regional funds.
The first fisheries partnership agreement was signed between the EU and the Comoros in 1988. The latest fisheries partnership agreement between the EU and Comoros covers the period 01/01/2005 to 31/12/2011. It has been tacitly renewed for seven years. The protocol covers the period from 01/01/2014 to 30/12/2016. The agreement allows EU vessels coming mainly from Spain, France and Portugal to fish in Comorian waters.