Human Rights & Democracy

Pakistan and the EU

11/05/2016 - 18:10
EU relations with Country

This page provides an outline of the relations between the European Union (EU) and Pakistan in areas such as political, economic and trade relations, governance, rural development and human rights.

The EU and Pakistan are important political partners. The Delegation represents the EU on a range of issues including: development cooperation, trade, humanitarian assistance, security and counter terrorism, energy, environment, health, transport, migration and climate change.

Political and security relations are getting stronger, something which is underscored by the EU-Pakistan Five-year Engagement Plan.

A Pakistan-EU Joint Commission meets annually to review the plan’s progress.

The EU supports Pakistan’s integration into the global economy. This is being achieved by:

  • furthering bilateral trade,
  • promoting direct investment,
  • supporting institution building, and
  • defending human rights, including the implementation of international labour standards.

The EU also supports the Pakistan Government’s on-going economic reform agenda in consultation with the international financial institutions. In addition, the EU is planning to expand its dialogue and cooperation with Pakistan in relation to energy issues.

The EU is one of Pakistan's largest trading partners and the biggest market for Pakistani exports. Overall EU-Pakistan trade reached €10.49 billion in 2015, up by 20.1% from 2013.

Pakistan's exports to the EU are heavily dependent on textile and clothing products, which account for 76% of all exports.

The main imports from the EU are machinery and appliances (25.5%), followed by transport equipment (16.5%), and chemicals & pharmaceuticals (15.5%).

In May 2007,the EU and Pakistan set up a Sub-Group on Trade under the Pakistan-EU Joint Commission.

Since January 2014, Pakistan has benefitted from the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which has boosted Pakistan's exports to the EU. 

Development cooperation

Along with its member countries, the EU provides Pakistan with about €700 million per year for development and humanitarian assistance.

Among other issues, the EU supports Pakistan in its efforts to tackle poverty, increase literacy, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat major diseases, and ensure environmental sustainability.

Science and technology

The EU and Pakistan are committed to cooperating in science and technology.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020).

The EU Delegation has concluded a partnership with the Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) to promote the Horizon 2020 programme in Pakistan.

Support for specific issues

Multi Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) details the EU cooperation priorities with the Pakistan for the years 2014-2020.  The assistance provided through the EU Delegation focuses on delivering long-term support for Rural Development, Education and Governance. (See entries below for more details).

Through the MIP, the EU is contributing more than €340 million to rural development in Pakistan.

The funding programme focuses on boosting economic growth and livelihoods in some of Pakistan’s poorest areas.

Efforts will therefore be made to:

  • Widen access to basic public services,
  • Reduce social and economic inequality,
  • Increase income-generating activities, and
  • Contribute to building peace and stability in areas affected by unrest. 

The MIP provides €210 million to improve Pakistan’s education and training systems.

Specific objectives include:

  • Improving access to – and completion of – basic and secondary education for children, while reducing gender and regional differences in provision.
  • Improving the quality of education by introducing better teaching and materials; assessment systems and school management practices will also be upgraded.
  • Improving the productivity and employability of workers by introducing relevant technical and vocational training programmes.

About €97 million has been allocated through the MIP to bolster democracy in Pakistan.

Specific objectives are to:

  • Strengthen democratic institutions and electoral processes – fighting corruption, improving legislation and greater scrutiny of government.
  • Support the decentralisation of public administrations – improving the management of public finances and service delivery.
  • Improve security and the rule of law – protecting people’s human rights, making law enforcement, legal and judicial systems more accountable.

Since 2009, the EU has provided Pakistan with €537 million of humanitarian aid, including an allocation of €21.5 million for 2016. Relief items have also been channelled to flood victims.

In 2016, the EU continued to support people affected by conflict and those suffering from malnutrition and food insecurity, as well as Afghan refugees in the country. It offers:

  • food assistance,
  • access to safe drinking water,
  • sanitation facilities,
  • shelter,
  • health-care, and
  • protection to conflict-displaced families.

To find out more about EU aid activities in Pakistan, please read this factsheet.

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