Angola

Signature of the EU-Angola country support strategy and the indicative programme

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News and Press Release
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Posted
Originally published
SPEECH/03/36
Poul Nielson
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid

Signature of the EU-Angola Country Support Strategy and the Indicative Programme
Luanda, Angola, 28 January 2003

Minister,

Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Congratulations

I am pleased to be present here today on behalf of the European Commission at the ceremony to mark the signature of the EDF Country Strategy paper and the Indicative Programme for Angola. This ceremony comes at a crucial time for Angola, as we are witnessing the unfolding of a peace process after three decades of almost continuous civil war. Let me congratulate the government at this point for its commitment and achievements to use this window of opportunity, which opened almost one year ago with the signing of the peace agreement on 4 April 2002.

International role

The war has prevented Angola from fully assuming its role as a regional player and economic power house. But that page has turned. Angola's return to the international stage is visible in two events: its election as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and the holding of the SADC Presidency. We trust and expect that Angola's peace dividend will include a significant contribution to stability in the region and beyond.

Legacy of the War

The legacy of the war, however, presents Angola with enormous challenges. Today Angola is ranked 161 out of 174 on the UN Human Development Index, almost one third of the total population has been displaced due to the war, the poverty level is extremely high and a very high proportion of the population depends in one form or the other on external aid. Angola, in spite of its abundant natural resources, cannot face these challenges alone. The international community is committed to complement the government's efforts to bring relief to its people and reconstruct the country.

EC/Angolan Cooperation

EC/Angolan co-operation goes back a long time, but was evidently limited by the war and the lack of access to large parts of the country. I am confident that under the new and favourable conditions the EC Angolan partnership will gain new impetus.

Elaboration of the CSP

The co-operation agreement we are signing today lays out in detail how the European Union shall contribute to Angola's recovery in the short, medium- and longer term. We began with the formulation of the strategy more than one year ago, but had to constantly revise and adapt it.

The EC/Angola co-operation strategy is fully compatible with the main elements of the EU Common Position of 25 June 2002. The presence of EU Member States at this ceremony shows the commitment to a common and coherent support for Angola.

The strategy is the result of a close collaboration of the services of the Government of Angola and the European Commission. Furthermore, an extensive consultation with civil society was an important element in its drafting. All efforts were made to ensure that the established priorities are coherent with the Government's own strategy and the needs of the country.

CSP Objectives

Our overall goal is poverty reduction and we thus seek to address some of the key determinants of poverty, and to support the Government in its overall objective of alleviating poverty. Our co-operation strategy encompasses aspects of relief, rehabilitation and development combining short, medium and longer-term interventions.

In the short to medium term priority will be given to support the peace process and national reconciliation, including creating the conditions for free and fair elections. This is a challenge, both administratively and politically. But all experience tells us that without credible elections there will be no stability and progress. In the medium to long term we plan to gradually focus our support, concentrating aid on the social sectors and food security/agricultural development in particular.

Financial instruments

Financial instruments for the financing of the co-operation strategy include uncommitted balances from the 7th and 8th EDF (around M€64), and M€ 146 from the 9th EDF (A-envelope M€ 117, B-envelope M€ 29). Furthermore the use of other EC budget lines is envisaged to finance specific operations.

Short term: Plan of Action

Already in May 2002 the Commission had in response to a request for assistance made by President dos Santos to President Prodi - elaborated a Plan of Action to support the peace process in Angola. A Programme of Emergency Support to the Peace Process (M€ 30) has been prepared within the Plan of Action to accelerate the distribution of funds from the 7th and 8th EDF.

This Plan of Action has been drawn up in parallel and is an integral part of the short-term component of the Country Strategy Paper.

Good Governance

Political stability and good governance are essential pre-conditions for the consolidation of the peace process and effective development. The strategy thus envisages good governance interventions as a crosscutting issue in the short-term, continuing through the medium-term to respond to the LRRD approach. . The funding foreseen for this sector, coming from the 8th EDF amounts to M€ 20, while further funds up to 15 M€ may come from the 9th EDF.

Democracy and Human Rights

Further important elements of the strategy are the support of civil society and the promotion of human rights, freedom of expression and the rule of law. M€ 3 are made available through the 9th EDF for the support to civil society. This includes capacity building for civil society and a programme to support small and micro-enterprises. The promotion of human rights, freedom of expression, civil society and rule of law will receive 8th EDF (and later 9th EDF) support, but shall as far as possible also be incorporated into other EC-financed interventions including budget line funding.

I recall that respect for human rights and equality of men and women and all people are essential elements of the Cotonou Agreement. To further these objectives, Angola is one of a number of focal countries in the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

Elections

I mentioned at the beginning the need to deepen the democratic process particularly with a view to the elections, now scheduled for 2004. Assistance in creating the conditions for free and fair elections is therefore an integral part of the short- to medium term component of the co-operation strategy.

Medium term: focal sectors

In the medium term the EC proposes to concentrate on food security and social sectors, which are key sectors for poverty alleviation. 50-60 M€ are made available for support to the health sector and 25-30 M€ for education. For food security, where our objective is to reduce Angola's dependence on food aid in kind, an indicative amount of M€ 40 will be made available through EDF and budget line funding. Activities in this sector are of particular importance for the re-integration of displaced persons.

International Conference

It is well understood that the task of Angola's reconstruction goes well beyond our focal areas of intervention, which were chosen taking account of our possibilities and the country's most pressing needs. The international reconstruction conference to be held later this year in Brussels will offer an opportunity to further discuss Angola's requirements in the medium to longer term. The European Commission is committed to play an active and constructive part in the organisation of the conference.

Institutional Support to the NAO

This signing ceremony concludes a period of close co-operation between the Commission's Delegation and the National Authorising Officer. Now we have an ambitious framework for co-operation for the next five years and co-operation must continue and even be strengthened to make best use of this framework. Effective co-operation depends largely on the capacity and responsiveness of the administrations involved. Institutional support is thus a key factor and fast progress in our project to support the capacity and responsiveness of the National Authorising Officer's administration would serve this aim. As will on our side - the substantial increase in staff of our delegation expected by the end of this year.

One issue is important for creating economic growth and a broad based diversification of the economy of Angola, namely the issue of how the nation manages the oil and diamond sectors. Looking at other cases where oil revenue has been a dominating component this has only impacted positively on the rest of the economy if there is transparency and a deliberate effort to diversify and stimulate other sectors. For Angola I see agriculture as an extremely promising sector.

Also from the point of view of foreign investment a climate of openness and a firm commitment to the principle of good governance is essential. I mention this because we on an occasion like today should not forget the Investment Facility of 2,4 Billion € which is part of the Cotonou Agreement.

Conclusion

The strategy for Angola is a challenge for the future, especially when it comes to the issue of reforms, governance, respect for human rights and democratisation, all of which are crucial to reducing poverty. We are with you in this process. After winning the battle for peace and national unity it is now the time to fight for reconciliation and to win the war against poverty. This is what the people of Angola has for so long been waiting for. I am confident that, together we will meet this challenge, and that we can reduce poverty in Angola, based on a process of sustainable development and building on our long standing close and warm relationship.

Thank you.