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The Delegation of the European Union to Botswana is responsible for managing official relations between the European Union (EU) and Botswana. These relations are based on the EU Treaty and cover political relations, security, development cooperation, economic and trade relations and other areas of mutual interest between the EU and Botswana.
The relations are conducted within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement a global agreement signed in 2000 between African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union. The cooperation between the two started in 1975 with the coming into force of the Lomé Convention, precursor to the present Cotonou Agreement. The EU established an office in Gaborone in 1981.
Political relations are on the basis of the Cotonou Agreement, which foresees a regular political dialogue of the EU and its Member States with the Botswana government. EU-Botswana relations are further guided by the EU Strategy for Africa which provides a long-term, strategic framework for interaction between Europe and Africa through various institutions including the African Union, regional and national authorities. It defines how the EU can best support Africa’s own efforts to promote sustainable development and reach the Millennium Development Goals
Trade is an important aspect in bi- and multilateral relations and has an important impact on the development of any country. The EU provided preferential access to its market for decades through the Lomé conventions. However, under the Cotonou Agreement, a new type of regional trading arrangement, known as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) was launched. EPAs are comprehensive trade and development agreements and their objectives are to reduce poverty, diversify economies and create employment through enhanced intra-regional integration and through a carefully managed opening towards the world economy.
Botswana has participated in EPA negotiations with the EU and other Members of the SADC EPA Group, namely Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. These negotiations were concluded in 2014 and the Agreement was signed in Kasane on 10 June 2016.
The agreement was signed by Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström on behalf of the EU, together with the representative of the EU Presidency.
Commissioner Malmström said: "Trade is a tool to spur economic growth and sustainable development. It's also an important factor for integrating regions and forming stronger bonds between countries. With the Economic Partnership Agreement that we are signing today, we want to base our trade relations with our partners in the Southern African region on commonly agreed, stable rules. Trade has helped lift millions of people from poverty throughout the years. Thanks to agreements like this one, we are preparing the ground for that process to continue."
Botswana ratified the Agreement on 30 June 2016 and the Agreement entered into provisional application on 10 October 2016.
EU support to Botswana has changed over the years to adapt to the changing needs. In the education sector, for example, early funding had infrastructure development such as the Francistown Technical College as a priority. In contrast, the EU support now focuses on the reform of the education sector, including technical assistance, knowledge sharing and skills transfer. Other important areas of work include support to Botswana's public finance management reform and the development of Botswana's private sector.
Furthermore, assistance to civil society remains a clear priority for the European Union. Many NGOs have received financial assistance from the EU to strengthen their capacity and widen the scope of their work. There are regular calls for funding proposals through which interested NGOs can apply. In addition, the EU is helping the Government of Botswana to implement its NGO Policy which foresees i.a. an improved dialogue between the Government and civil society, a more transparent process in the allocation of Government funds to NGOs and the strengthening of NGO’s capacities.
Over the years more than EU 385 million (BWP 4.6 billion at today’s conversion rate) have been made available in cooperation assistance. Most of these funds have come from the so-called European Development Fund (EDF). Once allocated, these funds are jointly managed by the EU and the Government of Botswana.
The EU is committed to continue its support to Botswana. The future cooperation will maintain its focus on skills transfer. Furthermore, future cooperation will center around helping Botswana exploit the potential of the new Economic Partnership Agreement. This is in particular interesting for Botswana’s high quality beef which under the provisions of the new trade agreement can be exported to the European market duty free and without quantitative restrictions.
For more information on current EU support to Botswana, follow the links below:
The Cotonou Agreement provides for a deepened partnership with civil society. Non State Actors are important partners in development policy and implementation. The European Union works closely with the government to promote pro-poor development strategies, and an essential complement to that work is action at local level with Non-State Actors to identify and respond to development needs.
The main beneficiaries of the programme are the Non-State Actors in Botswana, and the purpose is to enable them to engage more effectively with government and donor agencies in development processes. The programme will respond to the needs of the population, including the marginalized and disadvantaged sections such as remote area dwellers, female headed households and ethnic minorities.
The European Union is also engaged in dialogue with Civil Society and the Government of Botswana on Human Rights issues. A strategy for Human Rights Defenders has been developed between the parties.