European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, has announced that the EU development programmes for Bhutan will triple in the 2014-2020 period in comparison with the allocation from the previous years. “This commitment shows the EU has taken note of the efforts both countries have made to fight poverty and implement constitutional reforms,” said a release.
For Bhutan, the EU will provide a €42 million package and will aim to strengthening of civil society, supporting local governance and developing sustainable rural livelihoods by e.g. enhancing food and nutrition security and generating employment opportunities.
Commissioner Piebalgs will be in Bhutan stay from 21st till 26th October. The Commissioner said, “I welcome the successful democratic transition and the peaceful elections that took place last year. I am glad to see that the country has managed to reduce poverty by half. The new assistance will target areas that could work as catalysts for further development, like the Renewable Natural Resources sector, in line with Bhutan’s objective to build a carbon neutral economy. I hope that the country will continue its current reform agenda and we stand ready to support the country to further engage with civil society in policy-making.”
The visit will provide an opportunity to stimulate further political reforms in Bhutan, by encouraging the Bhutanese Leadership to empower civil society and to find a balanced solution for the people in the camps.
There, Commissioner Piebalgs is expected to meet His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje. A signature ceremony to launch the Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) will take place with the Minister of Finance, Lyonpo Namgay Dorji. The Commissioner will also inaugurate the first EU film festival in Bhutan.
The EU has focused on intensive support for Bhutan’s efforts towards poverty reduction, food security and – most recently – democratisation. The previous development programme for the time period 2007-2013 was worth €14 million and mainly provided support for renewable natural resources and enhancing good governance. The total contribution of the EU to Bhutan’s development efforts since the early projects in the 80s adds up to more than €90 million.
Multiannual Indicative Programmes (MIPs) represent an important step in the programming of EU aid under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI). EU Member States agreed in 2013 the overall amount for development cooperation that will be channelled to Latin America, Asia, Central Asia, the Middle-East and South Africa under the DCI during the next financing period 2014-2020 (total amount €19.6 billion).
In parallel, the preparations of a MIP for each of these countries started, defining the strategy and priorities for EU aid. These preparations are done in close cooperation with the partner countries in close consultation with other development partners (e.g. donors, civil society, private sector, etc.) so as to ensure that MIPs support national priorities where the EU has an added value.