The European Commission has been present in Afghanistan since the mid 1980s, with an office in Peshawar, in western Pakistan, covering the country. ECHO had programmes in Afghanistan from the early 1990s delivering humanitarian assistance. With the fall of the Taliban, EC engagement in the country increased to make the Commission one of the largest donors in the country.
The EC's first CSP for 2003-6 was focused very much on the initial reconstruction phase, building up infrastructure and establishing new government institutions and public services. This process will continue in the new CSP period but with an increasing emphasis on strengthening the capacity of those Afghan institutions and services so they can become more self-sustaining and viable in the long run.
This new CSP sets out the EC's commitment to Afghanistan until 2013. It has been drafted against a background of an evolving political and economic scene. The Afghanistan Compact, launched at the London Conference in January 2006, provides a new political framework for cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community for the next 5 years. Complementing the Compact, the interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy (i-ANDS) prioritises the development objectives for the country for the next 5 years.
The response strategy proposed in this CSP aims to strike a balance between the continuation of existing, successful programmes and new priorities in response to the changes in the country since the publication of the last CSP. There are three focal sectors: rural development; governance; and health. There are also three non-focal areas: social protection; mine action; and regional cooperation. The activities in the non focal areas directly or indirectly reinforce specific activities being pursued in the priority focal sectors.
The CSP's proposed focal areas are all priority sectors of the i-ANDS. The new CSP aims to contribute to addressing the fundamental challenges facing Afghanistan in dealing with the narcotics economy and in establishing a proper functioning rule of law. Although there will be continued support to central ministries and national programmes, there is an increased emphasis in this CSP on strengthening the rule of law and structures of government at the provincial and district level.
This CSP and the accompanying indicative programmes primarily aim to create the conditions for sustainable development and poverty reduction. The immediate pressing priorities are to stabilise the country and deal with the narcotics trade; to ensure government is able to deliver services at all levels; and to establish a functioning rule of law, safeguarding basic human rights. Only from this base will the Government be in a position to address the most basic social and economic needs and pursue the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the decade ahead.
In line with this approach, the sectors set out in this CSP are not all explicitly directed at progress towards the MDGs but rather prioritise actions that will enable sustainable poverty reduction in the medium to long run. This is the case in the justice and rule of law programmes, for example. That said, actions in other focal sectors such as health are directly working with the Afghan authorities to achieve the MDGs. Moreover, many of the proposed programmes in this CSP aim to have an impact on poverty in the medium run, for example in the rural development sector. It should also be noted that this strategy is designed in such a way as to enable the assistance programmes to evolve over time as and when more pressing priorities are addressed.
Under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), an indicative allocation of € 1030 million has been earmarked for Afghanistan for the period 2007-13. These resources may be supplemented by projects and programmes financed under the regional programmes and under various thematic programmes.