Monday 29 May 2006, by European Commission
The December 2001 Bonn Agreement set the milestones for moving towards a stable and democratically elected government in Afghanistan by 2004.
EU support for Afghanistan is set firmly within this context. The July 2002 General Affairs Council reiterated the importance of respecting human rights, including the rights of women, treating all minorities fairly and tackling drug production and trafficking.
At the January 2002 Tokyo Conference, the European Commission pledged about € 1 billion over five years, subject to the annual approval funds by the budgetary authority. In 2002, about € 207 mn will be spent on recovery and reconstruction, plus € 73 mn from ECHO. A total of about € 400 million has been earmarked for the period 2003-04. In addition, there will be continued humanitarian assistance from ECHO - up to € 55 million is likely in 2003.
The establishment of the Afghanistan Transitional Authority (ATA) is a welcome step forward in the Bonn process. The ATA has taken significant measures to create a stable macro-economic framework and put in place a firm government structure to prioritise and manage the flow of aid from the international community.
Nonetheless, Afghanistan continues to face a challenging political, economic and social situation. The ATA needs to strengthen its legitimacy (especially in the provinces). The economy remains one of the poorest in the world, and the rate of child mortality and adult illiteracy are amongst the highest in the world. Equally, the latest United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report indicates that opium poppy production has increased substantially in 2002.
Against this background, it is important for all donors to work closely with the ATA to ensure that aid flows are used efficiently and effectively, and have a tangible impact «on the ground» as quickly as possible.
In 2002, the Commission has channelled some of its funding directly to NGOs (especially in hard to reach localities, and sectors with a strong NGO presence). As the Afghanistan Transitional Authority continues to develop an increasingly robust co-ordination structure, the Commission believes it will be important to increasingly channel development resources through Government structures.
The Country Strategy Paper highlights the areas where the Commission can make a significant contribution to stability and poverty reduction by supporting the process of recovery and development.
It reflects the priorities identified in the National Development Framework and the October 2002 Development Budget, as well as focusing on those sectors where the European Commission has expertise.
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