Political & economic relations
EU Development Commissioner Piebalgs signs the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement, Burkina Faso June 2010
The Gambia is the smallest country on the African continent with a total area of 11,300 km² and a population of 1.79 million people (2010 census). It ranks 151 out of 169 countries on the 2010 UNDP Human Development Index. The annual growth rate in 2011 was 3% and GDP per capita was US$ 485 in 2010.
The partnership between the European Union and The Gambia is guided by the principles and objectives laid down in the Cotonou Agreement, the institutional framework which governs the relationship between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The Gambia is a signatory to the Agreement.
The Cotonou Agreement, most recently revised in 2010, underpins relations between the EU and The Gambia in the fields of political dialogue, trade and development cooperation. Democracy and pluralism are the guiding principles which constitute the framework of the Cotonou Agreement. Key guiding principles of the partnership include contributing to poverty eradication, through attaining the Millennium Development Goals, consolidating democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Agreement provides for a regular political dialogue to exchange information and foster mutual understanding in promoting the key elements of democracy. This practice has been strengthened under the 2nd revision of the Cotonou Agreement. Now the political dialogue is taking on a new dimension under the EU Lisbon Treaty.
Political dialogue between The Gambia and the EU, whether formal or informal, is open and covers a broad scope of areas of mutual concern. In January 2009, the format of this dialogue was established in an agreement between the EU Heads of Mission accredited to The Gambia and the Gambia Government. It is intended to promote economic, cultural and social development in The Gambia with a view to promoting stable and democratic political development.
On a regular basis, the EU discusses issues related to the political situation in the country and all aspects of governance, both with the Government of The Gambia and civil society. Recognizing the importance of civil society in policy-making, advocacy and in promoting accountability, the EU consults regularly on relevant issues with non-governmental institutions, the media, and other stakeholders. The EU-Gambia political dialogue aims to strengthen the partnership between the EU and The Gambia, enabling the EU to play its role in supporting change and development in The Gambia more effectively.
Support for human rights defenders is a long established element of the external relations policy of the EU. The EU Delegation together with the EU Member States, implements its support in accordance with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders [203 KB] .
The EU recognizes the strong link between economic and political reforms. As a major source of development assistance to The Gambia, the EU has been supportive of reform and poverty reduction policies, as well as to economic and public sector reform.
The European Development Fund (EDF), managed by the European Commission, is the main channel of financial support to the Common European Policy for development aid. It is financed by EU Member States. For the period 2008-2013 (10th EDF), €70.6 million was allocated to the Gambia with two priority intervention sectors: Transport as a focal sector, with a broader emphasis on infrastructure and regional interconnectivity, and Governance, in order to help the Government in undertaking reforms at the macroeconomic level as well as in the judiciary. The overall aim of the 10th EDF Country Strategy for The Gambia is the eradication of poverty in the context of sustainable socio-economic development. The Strategy also comprises good governance, human rights and the rule of law as complementary objectives.
The Gambia's national development strategy is based on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSPII) and the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), adopted by the Government of the Gambia as its medium-term strategy for implementing the country's long-term development framework, VISION 2020.
For more information on EU development cooperation in The Gambia, visit our development cooperation page.