Political Framework: Partnership between the European Union and Zimbabwe is based on the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. In a framework of respect for universal human rights, this landmark pact reaffirms the EU’s willingness to make a significant contribution to poverty eradication, sustainable development and the gradual (regional and global) integration of African Caribbean and Pacific countries into the world economy.
Political and Policy dialogues:
The Cotonou Agreement, notably articles 8 to 13, define the bilateral framework for the political dialogue between Zimbabwe and the EU.
Since 2002, Zimbabwe has been subject to Article 96 ("appropriate" measures) under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and "restrictive" measures under the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Based on progress towards the implementation of the Global Political Agreement, which formed the basis for the Government of National Unity (formed in 2009), steps were taken from 2010 to recalibrate EU measures; these include the suspension of "appropriate" measures in 2012, which allowed the EU to kick-start the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) programming exercise.
In February 2014 the EU again reviewed its relations with Zimbabwe and took a further step towards normalising them, with a view to supporting the Zimbabwean people and helping them achieve a more prosperous and democratic future.
Further dialogue and cooperation between Zimbabwe and the EU also involves the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). In August 2014, Zimbabwe was elected to chair SADC for a period of one year.
Bilateral Cooperation: To support the country’s peaceful and democratic transition and to help stabilise the economy, the EU's support to Zimbabwe is currently focused on the following three areas:
Given the restrictions under Article 96, EU support has not been channelled directly through the government, but via international organisations, the private sector and NGOs. Between 2009 and 2013, Zimbabwe benefitted from €128m from COM budget lines in addition to €158.3 m from the EDF. Total funding from the EU and its Member States amounted to €1.5bn for 2002-2013.
In health and education, the EU has focused on restoring public service delivery through UNICEF-managed multi-donor pooled funds. EU support to economic recovery is geared towards smallholder farmers, who form the largest and poorest population in rural areas; assistance helps them to progressively evolve from subsistence farming towards more diverse, income-generating activities. EU support to governance and human rights follows a two pronged approach, which focuses on the one hand on strengthening civil society in the quest to uphold human rights and rule of law, and on the other hand on strengthening the capacity of institutions such as the Human Rights Commission and the Election Commission.
Regional cooperation: Zimbabwe is a member of SADC and COMESA. Under the 11th EDF, SADC, COMESA, the East Africa Community (EAC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)will be covered under the same Regional Indicative Programme (RIP). Assistance will focus on three sectors: i) peace, security and regional stability; ii) regional economic integration; and iii) regional natural resources management. Regional infrastructure receives an allocation (preferably for the joint-financing of projects), as do other regional activities such as migration, wildlife, river and aquifer management, sustainable fisheries (including inland) and maritime security.
Other areas of cooperation: Zimbabwe may benefit from other EU funding programmes, such as Horizon 2020, the programme to promote research and innovation (2014-2020) and Erasmus+, which covers projects in the field of training, education, culture, youth and sport.
Economic and trade relations: The EU is currently Zimbabwe's third major trading partner. Zimbabwe signed and ratified the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (i-EPA), for the Eastern Southern Africa (ESA) region. The i-EPA is a major stepping stone to a wider and more comprehensive deal that supports sustainable development and fosters regional integration.