The EC-Burma/Myanmar Strategy Paper 2007-2013
Burma/Myanmar is one of the least developed countries in the world, with a population of approximately 50 million people, bordering Thailand, Laos, China, India and Bangladesh. For the largest part since its independence in 1948, the country has seen civil wars, with government forces battling communist insurgents, ethnic rebels and drug warlord militias. Burma/Myanmar represents today a complex post-conflict challenge, similar to other war-torn societies elsewhere.
Violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms are widespread. Political parties, including the winner of the 1990 elections, the National League for Democracy (NLD), are being impeded from functioning. The NLD's leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is kept under house arrest.
EU views on Burma/Myanmar are defined in the Common Position, which was first adopted in October 1996. While confirming already existing sanctions, the Common Position has been strengthened and extended several times in view of the military regime's failure to make significant progress in areas of EU concern. Until 2004, EC assistance to Burma/Myanmar was limited to humanitarian aid. The current version of the Common Position opens the possibility for a more systematic approach to assistance while continuing to invoke the government's responsibility to attain the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Fully in line with the EU Common Position, this Country Strategy Paper provides the framework for EC assistance for the period 2007-2013. It sets out objectives, policy response and priority areas for assistance based on both the political and socio-economic situation. The SP is in line with the European Consensus on Development as agreed on 20 December 2005 between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Council, which identifies poverty reduction as the main priority of EC development assistance while stressing the need to increase aid effectiveness.
Insufficient income and a shortage of economic assets at household level are behind many of the most urgent poverty issues in Burma/Myanmar, including food insecurity, growing indebtedness, poor health and low educational attainment. Although the humanitarian situation is dire all over the country, the population in ethnic minority areas on Burma/Myanmar's border are particularly vulnerable.
So far, EC interventions in the country were based on ad hoc assessments and financed from a variety of budget lines. In order to ensure a strategic and focussed approach and to increase effectiveness of assistance provided to the population, the Commission will implement future interventions on the basis of this first EC-Burma/Myanmar Country Strategy Paper. Based on an in-depth needs assessment, assistance for the period 2007-2013 concentrates on two focal sectors: 1) education and 2) health. Flanking actions in support of sustainable livelihoods and uprooted populations will be financed from relevant thematic programmes.
In accordance with the EU Common Position, EC programmes and projects will be implemented through UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and through decentralised co-operation with local civilian administrations. Taking into account the difficult political environment, governance will be a key cross-cutting issue and the Commission's assistance programmes will systematically integrate the promotion of democracy and human rights. All interventions should look at opportunities to help build the capacity of local stakeholders, local communities and organisations. Gender and environmental considerations are to be streamlined into all assistance programmes.
The indicative budget for EC assistance to Burma/Myanmar for the period 2007-2013 is € 65 million.