The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinians. In recent years, the combined contribution of the European Commission and EU Member States has reached €1 billion per year, which is not sustainable. Working to lift restrictions on the normal operation of the Palestinian economy, notably movement and access issues, is a priority for the EU.
Our assistance is intended to foster the conditions for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, notably by advancing the Palestinian state-building process, promoting good governance and encouraging economic recovery with a view to enhancing the viability of the future Palestinian state. Examples include:
Humanitarian and emergency response: due to the situation on the ground, much of the EU’s contribution is channelled in this way. We offer humanitarian and emergency aid through UNRWA and our PEGASE mechanism, providing a vital lifeline to Palestinian families affected by poverty and conflict.
“Statebuilding” activities: for over a decade, the EU has placed a major focus on empowering the Palestinian Authority through institution building and governance work. During 2008 the EU has been intensifying these activities, in areas which complement PA plans, for example health, education and the judiciary. The EU has also contributed to the development of modern and democratic police forcesthrough its “EU POL COPPS” mission in Ramallah which provides police training, police equipment and the reconstruction of police, prison and training facilities. EU assistance to the civil police is complemented by wider support for the rule of law, including support for the establishment of an efficient penal and judiciary system.
Palestinian economic activity; the EU has several measures aimed at encouraging the Palestinian private sector including credit guarantees, vocational training and trade facilitation. Unfortunately at present Palestinian economic activity (and daily life) is limited due to Israeli restrictions on access and movement in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The EU’s development assistance is managed in Brussels by the EuropeAid Co-operation Office (AIDCO). The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) oversees humanitarian assistance. Assistance is managed on the ground by EC Technical Assistance Office in Jerusalem. Together with the Presidency, the Commission takes a leading role in the ad hocLiaison Committee of international donors to the Palestinian Authority and in international donors' conferences for the Peace Process, notably the Paris Donors Conference of 17 December 2007 where the EC pledged over €400 million to support the Palestinian Authority’s Reform and Development Plan.
Customs and trade: the EU is active in this area, for example by providing technological solutions for the swift control of goods passing through the borders of the future Palestinian state, and by supporting the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to develop its trade policy and institutions (such as an agency dealing with customs and border issues).
Border assistance: in November 2005, an EU border assistance mission ("EUBAM Rafah") was established to help ensure international standards at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. This mission has been suspended since June 2007 but in December 2008 the EU indicated it is ready to resume its border assistance activities to enable the re-opening of Rafah, in cooperation with Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. It is also willing to examine the possibility of extending its border assistance to other crossing points in Gaza.
Trilateral dialogues have been organised between the European Commission, Israel and the Palestinian Authority on transport, energy and trade policy.
Civil society activities: the EU’s has consistently supported “people to people” projects. For example, our “Partnership for Peace” programme offers support for local and international civil society initiatives that promote peace, tolerance and non-violence in the Middle East. The objective of this support is to contribute to the rebuilding of confidence within each society and between societies.