Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Zimbabwe: European Commission supports Council decision to ease restrictive measures on Zimbabwe

Source: European Commission (EC)

The Commission takes note of today's Council decision to ease the restrictive measures on Zimbabwe and, following the Commission's proposal, to prolong the implementation of Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. Article 96 prevents the payment of aid through government structures and reflects continued concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe in terms of respect for democratic principles and the rule of law. However, direct assistance to Zimbabwe's people continues, as well as humanitarian aid. The Commission recognises the significant efforts made in addressing the economic crisis and improving the delivery of social services in Zimbabwe, while at the same time urging for further reforms, notably on the political front.

European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said: "I am pleased to note that Zimbabwe is making a step in the right direction towards economic and social recovery, but a lot remains to be done. The Commission has been and will continue to stand by the people of Zimbabwe on the road to democracy and economic, social development."

Since 2002, the EU has been upholding measures against Zimbabwe under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement which suspend EU aid to the government, for example in the field of budget support or security sector reform programmes. These measures respond to violations of human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. However, humanitarian measures or assistance directly benefiting the population has continued.

Commission aid to Zimbabwe

After the 2008 elections in Zimbabwe, three parties entered a Government of National Unity (February 2009) based on a power sharing agreement, the Global Political Agreement. The EU started a process of re-engagement following the establishment of the government. In the implementation of the power sharing agreement, a number of positive developments have occurred, particularly in addressing the economic crisis and social recovery.

The European Commission has assisted these developments with a package of about €90 million per year, channelled through Non-State Actors and UN organisations. These resources are spent on social sectors, food security and the promotion of governance. The aim is to support the recovery of the country and the efforts of the Government of National Unity to implement its agenda. Collectively, the European Commission and the EU Member States have channelled almost €1.5 billion to people of Zimbabwe in the period 2002 – 2010.

The impact of EU support has been significant:

The Commission provided 25% of fertiliser needs for Zimbabwean communal farmers in 2009 and 2010 which, along with other development partners' contributions, contributed to a significant reduction in the food security deficit.

In 2009 and 2010 the Commission provided €80 million to support social services, especially as a means to address humanitarian crisis.

The EU provided 80% of the country's needs in the area of vital medicines in 2010.

The EU provided text books to 820,000 children of primary school age, which represents a coverage of almost 100%.

The Commission is supporting the key reforms of the Global Political Agreement to encourage an environment conducive to general elections.

The support activities have been aligned to the government's priorities and facilitate the fiscal savings for other government priorities.


Since 2002, in addition to "appropriate measures" under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement Zimbabwe is also subject to Common Foreign and Security Policy "restrictive measures" mainly consisting of an arms embargo, a visa ban and freeze of assets of targeted individuals and entities. Both types of measures are renewed on an annual basis but reassessment is possible at any moment. In recognition of the progress made, the Commission informed Zimbabwe in September 2010 of €130 million that could become available under the main EU financial instrument for development, 10th European Development Fund. The disbursement of this financial envelope would, however, first require the revision of measures under Art.96 of the Cotonou Agreement.