afrol News, 19 May - The European Union (EU) has granted 41.3 million Euro (36.8 million US$) to Congo Brazzaville (RoC), according to a statement presented yesterday night. EU funds to Congo have been frozen since the civil war in the country in 1997-98.
The EU and the Congolose government have signed a Cooperation Agreement in Brazzavile on Thursday, according to the EU Commission. The EU's Co-operation and Humanitarian Commissioner, Poul Nielson, stated his satisfaction with the agreement.
Said Nielson: "With the desicion to sign this Agreement, the EU wants to show its willingness to support the process of development and democratisation in the country. The funds are destined for the implementation of priority fields, such as the fighting of poverty, democratisation and the promotion of human rights and the rule of justice."
The grant is channelled through the European Development Fund (EDF), which is the financial arm of the European Union and the group of 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), established by the Lomé Treaty.
The agreement means that Congo Brazzaville again receives EU funds after having been cut off from those for three years. Since 1997, the EU only has been granting emergency aid and aid to internally displaced people in Congo, amouning to Euro 24.3 millions (US$ 21.6 millions).
The EU statement noted that the internal conflict in Congo Brazzaville had "seriously hindered the application of the co-operation programme," which has the lowest level of implementation in Africa.
This year's achievements in the national reconciliation process, facilitated by Gabonese President Omar Bongo, were noted as the reason to resume EU funding. The EU noted with satisfaction "administrative developments" and the "elaboration of an electoral law that is in conformity with international standards." The EU Commission wanted to "encourage the dialogue between representative political forces" within Congo with its decision.
Congo Brazzaville was promised international funding to aid the country on its difficult track to peace and reconciliation. Foreign aid has however been little and late. Already in October last year, World Bank officials noted that "little support from the international community" had arrived the Congo, despite of earlier promises.
- Despite little support from the international community over the last year, Congo has achieved much, said Emmanuel Mbi, Country-Director for Congo at the World Bank. "Congo's commitment to reform in a difficult context is a source of encouragement and the international community should heed its appeal for significant support."
The conflict in Congo Brazzaville had disrupted fiscal management, as established budgetary procedures were abandoned and spending priorities shifted toward the areas of security and humanitarian assistance. The civil war inflicted large losses of human life, displaced almost one third of the population, and caused damage to infrastructure and productive capacity estimated at CFAF 1,600 billion, well exceeding the size of the estimated 1999 GDP, according to an IMF analysis.