MALAWI AND THE EUROPEAN UNION
Relations between Malawi and the European Union (EU) date back to 1st April, 1976, when the 1st LomĂ© Convention came into force, which provided a blueprint for cooperation between the EU and countries in the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) region. Since 2000, EU-Malawi development cooperation has been governed by the Cotonou Agreement, which has a life-span of twenty years, and which is centred on a common objective of reducing poverty, consistent with the goals of achieving economic and social development, and gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy. On 23rd May, 2008, Malawi ratified the Revised Cotonou Agreement, which includes a clause that the Agreement be adapted every five years, so as to enhance the effectiveness and quality of the ACP-EU partnership.
In general, EU-Malawi development cooperation focuses on a number of key policy areas and priorities including:
- Agriculture, Food Security and Management of Natural Resources;
- Transport and Infrastructure;
- Budget Support with focus on Public Finance Management, Education, Health, and Gender Equality;
- Good Governance and Civic Education;
- Economic Policy Development and Institutional Capacity on Economic Management issues;
- Private Sector and Trade.
The Country Strategy Paper for Malawi (2008-2013), which presents the strategic framework for cooperation between Malawi and the EU under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), will focus on agriculture and food security, in addition to regional interconnection, in particular road infrastructure, as main priorities. The EU will also continue with budgetary support, to improve the countryâ€™s macro-economic situation, to strengthen its public finance management systems, and to carry out reforms in the areas of education and health. Other activities will focus on good governance, institutional capacity building, the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as trade and investment. In this regard, â‚¬451 million has been set aside for Malawiâ€™s multi-annual indicative programme under the 10th EDF.
DISCUSSIONS UNDER THE EPAs
Negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements, which will govern the rules of trade between the EU and ACP countries, have remained a significant feature of the EU-ACP cooperation, since 2000. Malawi is currently engaged in the negotiations as part the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) group of countries. Although some countries initialed an interim EPA with the EU at the beginning of the year, with the view of concluding a comprehensive EPA by December 2008, Malawi did not initial the interim EPA, on the basis that it did not take into consideration the interests of less developed countries (LDCs), especially with regard to issues of development, and substantially all trade. Meanwhile, Malawi continues to gain preferential access to the EU through the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative. Although initially slated for conclusion in December, 2008, the comprehensive EPA is yet to be concluded, as some of the contentious issues are yet to be resolved. At the end of the latest ESA-EPA meeting held in December, 2008, in Lusaka, Zambia, a task force was constituted which would look into identifying possible options on the contentious issues