Relations between Burundi and the European Union (EU) are based on three complementary pillars: the political dimension, economic and trade cooperation and development cooperation.

Political Relations

In the framework of Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, which links the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries on the one hand, and the European Union and its Member States on the other, the European Union Delegation and the Embassies of its Member States maintain a political dialogue with the Burundian authorities on issues of common interest.

These exchanges focus mainly on strengthening the rule of law, human rights, the consolidation of peace and good governance, the promotion of democracy and the fight against poverty. 

Since February 2021, the European Union and the Government of Burundi have resumed political dialogue, with a view to warming up their relations. The two parties have agreed on a roadmap leading to a normalization of relations.

The renewed climate of trust will lead to an effective resumption of cooperation between the government of Burundi and the European Union, in order to contribute to the development of Burundi. 

Economic Relations

Burundi's economy is dominated by the agricultural sector (coffee, tea, cotton, livestock). It is therefore very vulnerable to shocks related to climatic conditions and, for export, to price variations. Agriculture accounts for about half of the GDP and the majority of the population live on subsistence farming.

GDP growth is low. The elements that hamper economic development and the significant increase in per capita income are:

  • Lack of electricity (less than 5% of households have access to electricity).
  • Significant demographic growth.
  • Inefficient agricultural production systems.
  • The heavy dependence of the state budget on external aid (around 50%).
  • A high level of corruption.
  • Weak development of the private sector (due to lack of electricity).

Much of the support from the European Union was for macroeconomic support. For the past ten years, the EU has supported the government of Burundi for the maintenance of peace and the stabilization of public finances, the reconstruction of the administration and public services, the improvement of economic governance and the implementation of sectoral policies.

Budget support amounted to around €196 million from 2004 to 2015.

Since the adoption of appropriate measures under Article 96, the EU has provided its support as directly as possible to the populations of Burundi with, among other things, a health support project of €40 million which provides funding of direct health care and support of €15 million for nutrition and fertilizer subsidies.

Trade Relations

Burundi's foreign trade is structurally in deficit and the coverage of imports by export earnings remains very low (around 20%). The main export products to the EU are coffee, tea, cotton and minerals.

For the year 2015, imports from the EU represent €110 million - or 25% of total imports. 25 million in exports to this area (mainly coffee), equivalent to 28% of total exports.

The trade balance deficit is mainly due to the low diversification of exports, dominated by basic products with low added value and highly exposed to price variations.

As an LDC, Burundi enjoys preferential access to the EU market, under the "Everything but Arms" (EBA) rule. An Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the EAC (of which Burundi is a member) should be signed soon.

Development Cooperation

The EU is Burundi's first development partner. For the period 2014-2020 (11th EDF) it was foreseen that EU aid will focus on the following sectors:

  • Infrastructure and rural development.
  • Health.
  • General budget support.
  • Good governance.
  • The technical cooperation facility.
  • Support for non-state actors.
  • Support for the Economic Partnership Agreement

As a result of the decision taken in application of article 96, EU aid comes exclusively in direct support to the populations.

The EU also funds more social projects in various fields, such as:

  • The promotion of human rights.
  • Support for NGOs and local actors.
  • Programs in the food security sector.