European Union External Action

Niger and the EU

Legal and operational framework for EU-Niger relations 
Relations between the European Union (EU) and Niger are expressed mainly in terms of development aid and in general through:

  • coherent internal and external policies for development, ensuring that a connection between diplomacy, defence and development is maintained;
  • the Cotonou Agreement;
  • the National Indicative Programme (for cooperation) with funding from the 11th EDF (2014-2020) and the continuation of the 10th EDF (2008-2013);

For more information on the programmes and the cooperation strategy, please consult the webpage for development co-operation in Niger.

the recent Socio-Economic Development Programme (SEDP 2012-2015).

The Nigerien economy is characterised by a dominant primary sector in which agriculture and livestock farming constitute the two main branches. The secondary sector mainly consists of the mining and oil industries. The tertiary sector includes telecommunications, transport, trade and non-market government services.


The EU: Niger’s main trading partner

Although the EU is Niger’s main trading partner, the trade balance with the rest of the world is very negative. More information is available on the DG Trade ‘Statistics’ page (select Niger from the list).

45 % of Niger’s budget is financed by external support. Its main funding providers are the EU, the World Bank, the United Nations, the African Development Bank, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark (the EU and the EU countries, including Germany, Spain and Italy, account for 25 % of its external support).

Encouraging foreign investors: the challenge

Improvements to the Investment Code and the fight against corruption are two priorities in the programme instituted by Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou. Using a holistic approach to revive the agricultural sector and mining resources (particularly uranium, oil and gold) constitute very real economic possibilities, provided that Niger is able to enjoy long-term political stability and the careful management of its public finances and resources.

Macro-economic support

The ‘Economy, Trade, Good Governance’ section coordinates and strengthens several principal areas of activity in the cooperation between the EU and Niger, namely in the following domains: budgetary support, institutional support, the private sector, health and education, democracy and civil society, justice and the rule of law and human rights.

Budgetary support 

Budgetary support is a major link in the cooperation between the EU and Niger. Governed by the European Development Fund, it has supported the macro-economic reform programme implemented by Niger’s government, reforms to the management of public finances and the implementation of the Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP 2012-2015) since 2013.

In terms of its public finances, the programme aims to improve the organisation of public spending, tax collection, budgetary transparency and the external control of public administration. 

The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) favour economic development in West Africa through commercial exchange. They actively support regional integration and growth, helping to eliminate poverty.

Background to the negotiations

Since 1 January 2008, negotiations concerning the EPAs between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) have aimed to replace the commercial component included in the Cotonou Agreement.

The commercial system set out in the Cotonou Agreement is incompatible with the regulations of the World Trade Organization (WTO), since it discriminates against developing countries that are not part of the ACP group. EPAs are reciprocal preferential trade arrangements in which each party agrees to abolish restrictions on imports from the other parties for a negotiated period. The attendant financial aid facilitating their implementation, and the promotion of regional integration in order to include ACP countries within the global economy, constitute the advantage of these EPAs.

The key points of the EPA negotiations

In February 2014, after a decade of discussions, West Africa and the EU concluded their negotiations in relation to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

There are more details on the 2014 agreements and the partnership between the two regions on the DG Trade ‘Publications’ page: EU–West Africa EPA.

‘Everything But Arms for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

The ‘Everything But Arms’ initiative was unilaterally put in place by the EU in 2002 for all LCDs, independently of the EPA negotiations and the Cotonou trade agreement. It therefore complies with WTO regulations. There are 13 LDCs from among the ECOWAS countries and Mauritania that continue to enjoy duty- and quota-free access to the common market for most of their products, without the need for reciprocity, even without a signed EPA.

With a total contribution of €49 million for 2015 and an initial budget of €36 million in 2016, the European Commission is one of Niger’s main lenders, providing essential emergency aid.

In order to meet the country’s humanitarian needs, the aid will include medical support and treatment for serious diseases, as well as the prevention and treatment of ‘severe acute malnutrition’ in the most vulnerable regions.

The Commission will continue its commitment to improving the provision of emergency food aid at the same time as speeding up the implementation of a free healthcare policy and laying the necessary foundations for the creation of social safety nets.

In 2015, the Commission contributed to the treatment of around 250 000 women and children suffering from severe malnutrition.

The European commission has increased its funding as a reaction to the escalating violence in North-eastern Nigeria, thus guaranteeing emergency aid for refugees and repatriates from the remote Diffa region in the east of the country. This zone received €13 million of EU aid in 2015.

Finally, owing to the fact that there was an increase in malaria outbreaks in April 2015, ECHO is supporting the fight against these epidemics. It has released €1 million to cover vaccines and medical treatment.

Contacts:

European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department
Niger – Niamey
Mr Amadou Alzouma
E-mail: niger@echoce.org
Tel.: +227 (0)96 96 97 63
Fax: +227 (0)20 73 23 22

Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO)
European Commission
West Africa Regional Office
BP 3345 Dakar, Senegal
Tel.: +221 (0)33 869 80 00
Fax: +221 (0)33 820 93 75
Email: westafrica@echoce.orginfo@echoce.org
Websites: http://ec.europa.eu/echo & http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/senegal/eu_senegal/humanitarian_aid/index_fr.htm

Objectives and intervention framework

In this case, support focuses on political, economic, financial and administrative governance. It contributes to the democratic process, to promoting human rights, democratisation, the rule of law, citizenship, decentralisation and the good management of public affairs, as well as covering health and education.

Cooperation programmes

There are many agents dispensing European aid, including:

  • the European Development Fund (EDF) through an NIP: National Indicative Programme (to suit the country’s priorities)
  • the RIP: Regional Indicative Programme, which covers a number of projects (infrastructure, migration and trade) at regional level.

As well as using other means, such as:

  • Thematic Budget Lines;
  • the long-term instrument for stability;
  • EU water and energy facility initiatives;
  • the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP/The EUCAP Sahel Niger Civilian Mission);
  • humanitarian aid (ECHO): in addition to the means of development cooperation listed above, the EU also operates extensively through humanitarian aid programmes;
  • the European Investment Bank is involved in the field of investments and is extending water network coverage in Niamey, the capital of Niger.

The cooperation strategy

The implementation framework for the Niger-EU cooperation strategy is set out in the 2014-2020 National Indicative Programme under the 11th EDF (with a total budget of €596 million scheduled for the 2014-2020 period), operating in partnership with the Nigerien state-run and non-state-run authorities.

It is organised around four main components as shown in the table below:

1. Food safety, nutrition and resilience

€180 million

30.2 %

2. Improving the State’s capacity to implement social policies

€200 million

33.6 %

3. Security, governance and the consolidation of peace

€100 million

16.7 %

4. Opening up the regions affected by insecurity and the risk of conflict

€90 million

15.1 %

Civil society support measures

€16 million

2.7 %

NAO support measures. Technical facility

€10 million

1.7 %

Total

€596 million

 

Certain activities are carried out outside the areas of focus, such as civil society support (€16 million), National Authorising Officer support (Ministry of Finance) or the technical cooperation facility (€10 million for these two areas of intervention).

In accordance with the principles for aid effectiveness, the scheduling of the 11th EDF conforms to that of the 2015-2016 Nigerien Social and Economic Development Plan (SEDP).

The five strategic approaches taken by the SEDP include:

  • establishing sustainability conditions for balanced and inclusive development;
  • consolidating the credibility and effectiveness of public institutions;
  • promoting food safety and sustainable agricultural development in line with the Nigerien authorities’ ‘3N’ Initiative (Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens);
  • supporting a competitive and diversified economy capable of bringing accelerated and inclusive growth;
  • social development which includes (among other things) the health and education sectors and gender equality, access to drinking water and sanitation.

Justice - rule of law

Regarding the consolidation of the rule of law, the ‘Good Governance’ section supports the development and implementation of the Judicial Reforms Support Programme (PARJ), through the programme to support judicial reform and the rule of law (PAJED). This project supports the modernisation of the Nigerien legal framework for commerce and human rights in particular. It also supports the implementation of legal reforms initiated so as to improve the smooth running of the system and bring justice closer to the population. The creation of a sector-specific policy, which is one of Ministry of Justice’s priorities, is one of the most important projects supported by the PAJED.

In addition, with a view to improving the ability to fight organised crime and illegal trafficking, since the ninth EDF the EU has agreed to support internal security. The target groups for this support include the security forces, the criminal police and other elements of the legal apparatus for fighting crime. In addition to the EDF, other instruments are used by the EU to support Niger in this field, thus contributing to stability and peace.

With this objective in mind, with a budget of €18.7 million for the 2014-2016 period, the interim response programme of the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) aims to reduce the risk of insecurity and supports economic and social activity in 61 villages identified by the Nigerien authorities as priority areas in terms of security and development issues.

With regard to the aims behind the EU’s Sahel strategy, this programme, which consists of 15 projects, has three specific objectives (the main project being directly implemented by the High Authority for the Consolidation of Peace). These are: (i) to improve security in certain parts of Niger; (ii) to create opportunities for young people in connection with training, employment and the economy, cultural, sports, and leisure activities and (iii) to promote tolerance and dialogue through the peaceful resolution of conflict.

Health

The government’s objective is to improve the national health system based on the Health Development Plan (HDP). This plan reflects Niger’s right to access health through planned intervention and a number of strategic approaches. The cooperation is implemented in line with a regional policy that focuses on decentralisation through creating health districts, reorganising and reforming the health system, improving health cover and participation and the encouragement of private initiatives.

The EU intervenes mainly with regard to improving access to primary health care, providing access to reproductive and sexual health services (with the United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA]), preventing malnutrition (the Millennium Development Goals acceleration initiative with Unicef), and improving the public health ministry, in particular the National Health Information System. The EU is also creating and transforming healthcare training.

The implementation of the budget support programmes (the multi-year support programme for poverty reduction: PPARP 2009-2011 and the Good Governance and Development Contract) has helped to improve sector indicators such as free maternity and child health care. These programmes have also been responsible for the renewal of political dialogue in the region, as well as the implementation of the structural reforms contained in the HDP.

Education

A genuine sector approach has been used in the area since 2003, structured around an education sector programme (2014-2024) (PSEF – Programme Sectoriel de l'Education et de la Formation), which is the first long-term planning document for education in Niger and will act as a common frame of reference for the government and its development partners, including the EU. The aim is to ensure fairness and to improve the quality of teaching.

The EU supports the implementation and development of this sector policy with global budgetary support and project-based aid. It is devoting particular attention to the viability of educational policy by providing additional financial support to the sector (a fixed proportion of budgetary support), by offering support for the implementation of activities and by contributing to the technical monitoring of PSEF developments.

Improving the quality of teaching at primary level as well as planning and the management of activities in the sector are two major considerations for all EU interventions.

The EU also encourages the formulation of a development strategy as part of its sectoral approach and broad educational vision. To this end, it provides specific support for the implementation of an ongoing professional training and learning strategy that aims to structure a lasting national training system. It also provides institutional support for participants, and for training activities benefiting artisans, apprentices and certain vulnerable categories. The EU is backing the ‘support for the national programme for technical and vocational training and access to employment for school leavers’ in collaboration with Luxembourg’s cooperation programme.

The EU budgetary support, particularly the PPARP and the CBGD, have contributed substantially to the progress made in the primary teaching sub-sector, particularly the gross enrolment rate for girls and the completion rate. In 2014, these two rates reached 75.3 % and 65.9 % respectively. These programmes have also made it possible to revive political dialogue in the sector and to implement the structural reforms contained in the ten-year education development programme (PPDE) and the education sector programme (PSEF).

Objectives and scope of intervention

The EU and Niger are working to involve civil society in the development of the country as an active participant in the democratic process and in its role as a chosen mouthpiece for the population.

Democracy – Civil society

The aim to is support the country’s democratisation, the promotion of a favourable environment for civil society, the development of constructive and structured civil society participation, and the strengthening of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). In terms of democracy, the approach covers support for free and transparent elections as a mechanism for choosing the government and the authorities at all levels.

The EU has therefore helped to finance electoral processes in Niger. Support for the 2015-2016 electoral process is also envisaged as part of the 11th EDF.

The civil status register has also benefited from EU support since 2012. This civil status register is the source database for other files such as the electoral list.

A functional civil status register also provides reliable statistics.

Support for civil society is covered by the 9th, 10th and 11th EDFs. There are different levels of intervention. The Civil Society Support Programme (PASOC I and II), with a budget of €13 million, came to an end in December 2015. It provided a way of improving the institutional environment of CSOs (regulation and consultation with the government) and to improving the ability of civil society to play a role as a key participant in development and implementation of development policies at national, regional and local levels.

New directions and priorities will be decided as part of the 11th EDF (2014-2020) and there will be continued support for civil society to which the 11th EDF is allocating a €6 million budget.

In addition, many projects funded under several budgetary headings (Investing in People, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), and the non-government participants and local authorities NSA-LA support programme) aim, among other things, to improve the rights and responsibilities of civil society within the country.

The projects funded currently cover areas like culture, citizenship, freedom of the press, quality education for children, the integration of young people and the protection and promotion of women’s rights.

Since 2010, the Delegation has made five calls for proposals locally, amounting to a total sum of €5.5 million. These have benefited several communities or regions as well as local NGOs, both individually and in partnership with international NGOs. In the past, certain projects carried out by NGOs in response to emerging problems have overseen the creation of micro-businesses for underprivileged young people and women. They have also contributed to improving the quality of NGO employees working in the field of special-needs education, as well as in the health, food, environmental protection and decentralisation sectors.

A road map for civil society in Niger has also been drawn up jointly with the CSOs, the EU countries, the Nigerien government, the other Technical and Financial Partners (TFPs) and the Delegation. It has enabled the presentation of a situation analysis of civil society and current undertakings and priorities for consideration in 2014-2017.

Objectives and intervention framework
Niger’s Social and Economic Development Plan (SEDP 2012-2015) has become a unique frame of reference for intervention supporting the medium-term national development policy. The ‘3N’ Initiative for food safety, nutrition and sustainable agricultural development, ‘Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens’, which aims to ‘strengthen national capacities for production, supply and resilience in the face of food crises and disasters’, is representative of the range covered by the strategic and regional wing of the SEDP for agricultural development, food safety and nutrition. The 3N Initiative is part of the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative (AGIR), which has become the frame of reference for the resilience of governments and funders in West Africa as a whole. Working within this framework, the EU delegation has supported Niger by preparing the country’s resilience priorities for 2016-2020.
The Delegation also supports the implementation of the strategy for development and security in the Sahel-Sahara region (SDS Sahel-Niger), particularly in northern Niger. Adopted by the State of Niger, the SDS aims to provide strong economic, social and cultural development in Niger’s Saharan and Sahel-Sahara regions, which face development issues influenced by the perilous safety conditions.

The National Indicative Programme (NIP) of the 11th EDF for Niger is providing a sum of €596 million, €180 million of which is for the food safety, nutrition and resilience sector. Under the aegis of the 11th EDF, the activities in the rural sector will continue to affect long-term sustainable agricultural growth, to contribute to resolving and alleviating short-term or chronic situations in relation to the lack of safety and to improve the response and resilience capacity of the most vulnerable populations. Within the population, new born babies and infants (the first 1 000 days) represent a specific target group for current and future projects intended to improve nutrition.
The development of these activities (including reproductive health) is additional to the support provided by ECHO, the EU’s humanitarian agency.
Rural hydraulics programmes supplement these activities by improving living conditions under the Millenium Development Goals’ (MDGs) acceleration initiative.

A support programme ensuring ‘food safety, nutrition and sustainable agricultural development’ has been funded for the 11th EDF. The method of implementation envisaged for this report is a Sector Reform Contract (SRC) with accompanying direct management support. Its total cost is €203 million and its duration is 60 months (2016-2020). Budgetary support of €192 million is planned, with the additional support of €11 million.

The general aim of this programme is to support the efforts made by the government of the Republic of Niger to eradicate poverty, promote sustainable and inclusive growth and consolidate and improve democratic and economic governance.

The expected results of this programme include:

  • stronger governance at sector level;
  • the improved provision of public services;
  • reduced geographic and gender inequality.

The Sector Reform Contract aims to support sector policy objectives for ‘food and nutrition security and sustainable agricultural development’ (also known as the 3NI – ‘Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens’ Initiative). These aim to ‘protect Nigerien populations against hunger, guarantee them full participation in national production and improve their income’, by improving their national ability to produce food, to supply suitable food in terms both of quantity and quality, and ensure resilience in the face of food crises and natural disasters.

Objectives and intervention framework

Transport sector

The EU considers the transport sector as a fundamental strategy in its work in Niger. Thus, since 2005, it has managed its technical and financial partners in this particular area of intervention. The implementation of a long-term road construction programme under the 9th, 10th and 11th EDFs, for a combined total of almost €350 million, enables the improvement of a third (1/3) of the existing network of surfaced roads and an improved institutional governance for this sector. These operations contribute to:

  • regional promotion and integration through the improved quality of the priority national network, encouraging external economic exchanges with other countries in the region, particularly the ECOWAS countries;
  • the stimulation and facilitation of economic and commercial exchange, and the mobility of people;
  • the opening up of regions affected by insecurity and the risk of conflict, the opening up of areas for agro-pastoral production and markets, and improved access to basic social services.

Under the aegis of the 11th EDF, €90 million of support has been allocated to the transport sector, including €84 million for the construction of roads in order to open up potentially unstable regions, and €6 million for institutional support for the sector.

Energy Sector
Priority has been given to projects providing electricity in rural areas. Two projects, funded by the Energy Facility (http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/acp-eu-energy-facility-improving-access-energy-services-poor-rural-and-peri-urban-areas-2009_en), are currently under way. These two projects, which are receiving €3 million of funding, are in the process of promoting renewable energy at community level.
The Programme for Access to Energy Services in the Rural Municipality of Safo, currently under way, is providing energy services in rural and semi-rural areas. Within the territory of the Municipality of Safo in particular, it has developed modern energy services (mechanical water pumping systems, electric lighting, energy conservation, cooking, etc.). It has also put in place and supported Delegate Service Operators (DSOs – Opérateurs de Services Délégués), whose role is to ensure the continuity of energy supplies at household and community level.

The sustainable energies programme in the Agadez and Tillabéri regions gives access to affordable and sustainable energy services for rural populations. This project also aims to improve production by setting up community centres for processing agricultural produce, installing a pilot photovoltaic irrigation system and holding workshops on the production and circulation of gasification boilers. This has now been fully implemented and the project was closed at the end of 2015.

Also at the end of 2015, the EU conducted a review of Niger’s energy sector through the Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) and plans to help Niger to draw up a currently non-existent energy policy document.

Finally, in terms of rural access to electricity, an EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (AITF) subsidy of €11 million has been granted to fund the connection of 30 rural communities and 70 villages under the project to extend NIGELEC (Nigerien Electricity Company) networks, implemented by the French Development Agency (AFD) and NIGELEC itself.

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