EU-Afghanistan Troika: renewal of the European involvement

This event will take place on 28th January in Prague. Afghanistan’s democracy agenda, Afghanistan’s presidential and parliamentary elections.. many issues will be discussed and the Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy will confirm the EU’s commitment to Afghanistan with the €500 million assistance package for 2008-2010

Benita Ferrero-Waldner Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy will attend the EU-Afghanistan Ministerial Troika meeting on 28th January in Prague. Afghanistan is represented by Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta. The meeting will touch upon the implementation of Afghanistan’s democracy agenda, the preparation of Afghanistan’s presidential and parliamentary elections foreseen in 2009 as well as the EU’s contribution to improving rule of law and regional developments including Afghan-Pakistan relations. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will confirm the EU’s commitment to Afghanistan with the €500 million assistance package for 2008-2010 which focuses on three key priority areas: reform of the justice sector; rural development including alternatives to poppy production; and health.

The EU is keeping its promises to Afghanistan. The €1 billion pledge made in 2002 after the fall of the Taliban, and the 2008 - 2010 €500 million package demonstrate the Commission’s continuing commitment to help Afghanistan build a more secure and prosperous future. The Commission remains one of the main donors in Afghanistan and one of the very few that provide a multi-year commitment focussing its programmes on rural development, health as well as justice reform. Furthermore, the funding for LOTFA (Law and Order Trust Fund Afghanistan, police salaries and training) and ARTF (Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, governance notably in the provinces) continue.

Background

The Afghan National Development Strategy and the Afghanistan Compact provide the framework for co-operation between the Afghan government and the international community. The Afghanistan Compact covers a five-year period (to end-2010) and sets out mutual commitments, detailed benchmarks and timelines across four crucial areas: (1) security; (2) governance, rule of law and human rights; (3) economic and social development; and (4) counter-narcotics. It emphasizes increased Afghan ‘ownership’ and ‘leadership’ and includes provisions on increasing the effectiveness of international assistance.

Rule of Law

As the largest donor to the LOTFA (€200 million since 2002), the Commission continues to be a major contributor to salaries and training needs of the Afghan police.

The Commission has launched a programme supporting the justice sector to improve qualification, recruitment, and career structure for judges and prosecutors and to introduce an ethics code.

These activities complement the ESDP mission on policing deployed by Member States in 2007.

In addition the Commission supports capacity building in local and regional administration, aiming at increasing the focus on rule of law in the provinces.

Furthermore, nearly €50 million of EC aid were invested in the development of major border crossing posts at the border with Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. These facilities have significantly improved customs and border management and are already generating increased revenue from custom duties to the Afghan budget.

Rural Development

The Commission supports rural development programmes in north eastern and eastern Afghanistan, to reduce poppy dependence through alternative livelihoods. Despite an overall increase in opium cultivation since 2007, there are encouraging signs of sustained reduction in the Northeast where the Commission has been active.

Health

As one of the three key donors to the health sector (with the World Bank and the US) Commission programmes continue to focus on provision of primary health services and secondary health care. The aim is to lift the coverage of basic health services from around 80% at present to near 100% by the end of 2010 through training of medical staff and rebuilding of health clinics.

Social Protection

The EC plays a leading role in supporting action for children at risk (street children, exploitative child labour, child trafficking, children victims of war etc.). A €24 million aid package has recently been approved by the Commission to sustain efforts and achievements in social protection of highly vulnerable groups and persons.

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