With an estimated population of 820,000, the Republic of Djibouti is one of the smallest states in Africa. It currently enjoys a high growth rate but faces challenges with regard to sustainable and shared development. The European Union is the primary international donor there, acting exclusively through grant aid, with water, sanitation, resilience and food security being its chief priorities. Promoting peace and security in the region is also central to European involvement, as Djibouti is the EU's logistics base for its anti-piracy operation, Operation Atalanta.
The European Union and the Republic of Djibouti are working together to stabilise the Horn of Africa, particularly through AMISOM and Operation Atalanta and, until recently, Eucap Nestor. The EU and Djibouti both support IGAD, encouraging it to become more effective in such areas as peace, security and regional integration.
As part of the political dialogue provided for under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement and also through various approaches and contacts, the EU and its Member States promote democracy, the rule of law and respect for civil liberties in Djibouti.
Main factors in EU-Djibouti relations
With regard to the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), the National Indicative Programme (NIP) is in line with the long-term objectives outlined in ‘Djibouti Vision 2035’ and the national programme for food security. Given the considerable strain on natural resources facing Djibouti, the EU has chosen to invest its allocated funds (€105 million) in water, sanitation and food security in order to address the country’s structural challenges and create an exit strategy for humanitarian aid. This also means that development benefits the most disadvantaged populations.
The preceding programme, the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), focused on ‘Water, sanitation and energy’. The EU has been very active in these areas ever since the beginning of its relations with Djibouti. Access to drinking water has, in fact, always been a priority, as has wastewater treatment, which is considered one of the main environmental issues facing the country and its capital.
The EU is also very committed to promoting stability and peace in Djibouti and the region, in particular with regard to maritime security. There are several large-scale initiatives to support the country’s efforts to fight piracy. The most well-known is Operation Atalanta, which joins the forces of several EU countries under the European flag.