Liberia, EU Strengthen Partnership: Launch European Union Blue Book Liberia 2012
Throughout the turbulent years of Liberia’s transition from crisis to peace, there are partners of the country, despite its dismal state of affairs, that stood by it in greasing the bolts and knots required not only to restore peace and stability, but to spur the nation onto recovery and reconstruction.
These partners are not only influential stakeholders in international affairs, but supporters of human freedom, dignity and emancipation. The European Union (EU) remains one such reliable partner, always ready to intercede when needed, since the first post-conflict donor conference on Liberia was hosted in 1995. In a summary statement of the organization’s involvement with Liberia, Dr Nick Westcott, Managing Director for Africa in the European External Action Service (EEAS) outlined the EU’s contribution to Liberia’s reconstruction process, as Adolphus Mawolo reports.
Dr Nick Westcott, Managing Director for Africa in the European External Action Service (EEAS), has launched a structured and regular political dialogue between the European Union (EU) and Liberia, a major step forward in EU’s relations with Liberia.
The EU Blue Book Liberia 2012 is the first of its kind in the country. This publication provides an overview of how the European Union and its member states cooperate with Liberia.
The Blue Book also presents the general framework for EU-Liberia relations – the Cotonou Agreement for cooperation and political dialogue – and the everything but Arms initiative in the domain of trade.
Upon his arrival in Liberia last week, Westcott led an EU delegation composed of Attilio Pacifici, the EU Head of Delegation, and the four EU Heads of Mission permanently represented in Liberia (France, Germany, Sweden and the UK) in a first consultation with the President and senior ministers of government.
A political dialogue gives both partners a forum to raise a whole range of internal and external issues.
“Subjects discussed with the President included the political reconciliation process, strengthening of institutions of democracy, development priorities, and regional issues, including challenges for ECOWAS and the African Union,” Dr. Westcott noted.
The EU envoy indicated that support for regional integration, and the real advantages offered by an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU as well as future development support for the country featured in the discussion with the President.
According to Dr. Westcott, the EU will later this year commence discussions about its development assistance to Liberia up to 2020, which will focus on supporting Vision 2030 and Liberia’s second Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).
The political dialogue between the EU and Liberia will continue in a structured and regular manner and will be coordinated on the Liberian side by Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan.
During his two-day working visit to Liberia intended to gain deeper insights into Liberia’s political, economic, security and development issues, Dr Westcott also held meetings with several government ministers, the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chairman of the Governance Commission, the Acting Chairperson of the National Elections Commission, representatives of opposition political parties, civil society and media representatives.
The EU has long been one of Liberia’s major development partners focusing on poverty reduction as its core development strategy. During the years 2008-2011, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, the UK and the EU provided more than US$550 million to Liberia in development assistance, focusing on the four pillars of Liberia’s PRS.
“More than half of the funding went into infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and energy, and delivering basic services in education and health.
“Almost €60 million was invested in strengthening governance and the rule of law, whereas close to €30 million went into revitalizing the economy and over €10 million invested in consolidating peace and security, including police training.
“An additional €32 million have recently been allocated to help in reducing maternal health. Close to 10% of the total contribution was channeled directly into the national budget of Liberia as general budget support,” the EU envoy indicated.
Most of EU development funding to Liberia is provided as grants. Since 2010, Liberia has been benefiting from direct support from the EU through the national budget, Dr. Westcott said.
The majority of EU assistance to Liberia is financed through the European Development Fund (EDF). The European Union budget also provides for a number of different financing instruments, mainly used for projects proposed by non-state actors to address priority issues.