EU Commits To Support Bhutan Beyond 2023, After Its Graduation From Least Developed Countries Status
“We’re happy to continue working with Bhutan in improving services delivery to the citizens of the country.”
By Tshering Palden | Kuensel
The European Union (EU) has committed to continue its support to Bhutan and will diversify its assistance to the country beyond 2023.
The Directorate-General for the International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) of the EU, Stefano Manservisi said, “Bhutan is graduating from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group in 2023, but this would not imply disengagement in any way or decrease in our commitment to the country.”
Stefano Manserisi is in charge and responsible for the EU’s development cooperation policy while DEVCO is responsible for designing European international cooperation and development policy. The organisation also delivers aid throughout the world.
The Directorate-General was in Bhutan on a three-day visit with a six-member delegation to get updates on the country’s priorities and adapt their assistance accordingly. His delegation met with the Lyonchhen, Cabinet ministers and other senior officials.
The EU also supported Bhutan’s bid for the graduation and the time extension needed to prepare for it at the UN.
Key challenges discussed during the three-day visit
The delegation discussed key challenges and new vulnerabilities that Bhutan would face after graduating. However, Bhutan’s graduation will not result in any reduction in support from the European Union, he emphasised.
“Our support in terms of funding is to accompany the transition of the country for the consolidation of its macro-economic situation, agriculture and rural development, building the capacity of the civil society organisations, and good governance both at the local and central levels,” the Director General said.
The discussions also covered the EU’s assistance in the sectors of health care, employment, infrastructure, providing potable and irrigation water as well as agriculture. It will also facilitate investments in small and medium enterprises such as start-ups in Bhutan.
Photo: Druk Asia
“We’re happy to continue working with Bhutan in improving services delivery to the citizens of the country,” he said.
Long-standing good relations between Bhutan and the EU
After four decades of excellent cooperation between Bhutan and the EU, the relations between the two remain intense and good. Formal diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the EU were established on August 9, 1985.
The EU is one of Bhutan’s three main development partners and the government attaches importance to its relations with the EU. Both are aligned with regards to common challenges such as climate change.
The total EU assistance to Bhutan from 2014-2020 for its Multi-annual Indicative Programme (MIP) stands at 51 million euros.
The EU delegation visited Bhutan to discuss the next (2021-2027) MIP. The delegation seeks to understand Bhutan’s needs at a time when the MIP 2021-2027 is still under negotiation.
Another delegation will visit Bhutan in March 2019 to attend a conference to learn more about the government’s plans and fine-tune their assistance accordingly, Stefano Manserisi said.
This article first appeared in kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.