Relations with the EU
The European Union and the Republic of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea
Relations between the European Union (EU) and Cameroon go back several decades. The first agreement between the EEC (European Economic Community) and the 18 States making up the AASM (Associated African States and Madagascar) was signed in Yaoundé in 1963.
The current challenges faced by Cameroon are to improve governance (particularly financial governance), fight corruption, and decentralise and revitalise the private sector. Agricultural productivity is poor, and company competitiveness is restricted by the high costs and by problems in the business community.
Political dialogue between the EU and Cameroon is defined by the “Cotonou Agreement”. The issues of good governance and strengthening the rule of law are the guiding thread of these exchanges with the Cameroonian government.
The Cotonou Agreement aims to smoothly integrate the ACP countries into the world economy, strengthening their production, supply and trade capacities
This requires a growing capacity to attract investment, establish strong trade and investment policies, and effectively deal with all trade-related matters.
The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) are the commercial pillars of the Cotonou Agreement. The EPAs reflect a shared ambition to create a new partnership between the EU and the different ACP regions, including Central Africa. This strengthened economic partnership combines trade and development cooperation to promote sustainable growth and job creation.
An EPA has been negotiated since 2003 between the EU and Central Africa (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, and).
Nevertheless, given the inherent difficulties of negotiating an agreement to cover a large number of countries, on 17 December 2007 Cameroon and the EU agreed on an interim EPA to apply until a regional agreement can come into force. The main advantage of this option was that it allowed Cameroon to continue enjoying commercial preferences which it would have risked losing, in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization.
The interim EPA was approved by the European Parliament on 13 June 2013 and ratified by Cameroon on 22 July 2014.
The interim EPA gives Cameroon duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market, while imports duties on 80% categories of goods originating from the EU will be dismantled by Cameroon over a 15-year period. They are mostly inputs used by Cameroon's industries that are not produced locally. Eliminating import duties will reduce the costs of inputs for local businesses and will also benefit consumers.
Cameroon has excluded 20% categories of goods originating from the EU from the tariff dismantling (mainly agricultural and non-agricultural processed goods), to ensure the protection of certain local agricultural markets and industries and to maintain fiscal revenues. The excluded products include most types of meat, wines and spirits, malt, milk products, flour, certain vegetables, wood and wood products, used clothes and textiles, paintings, and used tires.
The agreement also stipulates commitments from the EU and its Member States to help Cameroon become more competitive, as well as measures to help exporters meet EU import standards (sanitary and phytosanitary measures). Moreover, it includes cooperation on the establishment of more effective customs procedures, and fiscal adjustment, in order to guarantee that the suppression of customs duties will not destabilize the country's public finances.
More about EPA EU-Cameroon
Today, the EU is Cameroon’s leading trade partner. Cameroon's exports towards the European market are estimated at 47 % of its total exports. Its imports from the EU account for around 30 % of all its imports. Many EU companies are doing business in Cameroon, creating jobs and bringing added value by offering new services and products.
- How to benefit of the EPA EU-Cameroon : Practical Guide for Cameroonian Companies :
- EU -Cameroon: A sustainable partner for the private sector...
Forest Governance/VPA FLEGT in Cameroon
To address illegal logging and the fraudulent trade in Cameroon timber exploitation, the EU established the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan in 2003. This is based on two components
The first component is intended to develop a guaranteed supply of legal wood in voluntary producer countries, which is achieved through the signing of Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs). These agreements establish a system for verifying legality in producer countries, coupled with a system of export licences (known as "FLEGT licences").
The second part concerns the elimination of illegal timber from the entire European market. The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) prohibits the marketing of illegally exploited timber (sale of illegal timber) and timber products, regardless of where they are being gotten. Operators placing timber or timber products on the European market for the first time (importers or loggers) will have to exercise due diligence.
In 2009, the EU and Cameroon signed a Financing Agreement to support the improvement of governance in the forestry sector in Cameroon. The implementation of this agreement calls for the establishment of a nationwide Legality Assurance System (LAS) for timber and includes three components: capacity building for the Ministry in charge of forests, support for the establishment of a new timber traceability system and support for the creation of an independent audit mechanism for the FLEGT system.
This support for the implementation of the measures provided for in the VPA also involves the mobilisation of the European Commission's thematic budget lines, within the framework of the Thematic Programme for the Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, including Energy (ENRTP), which mainly supports the involvement of national civil society organisations in the FLEGT process. The EU's financial contribution to these various projects and programmes is estimated at CFAF 6.6 billion.
Thanks to EU support, Cameroon has just acquired a software package for managing the balance and State personnel. This software package is part of a vast support program for public finance reform, which has a budget of 7.6 billion FCFA. For the EU, it is a matter of improving the performance of public authorities, the management of public finances and the efficiency of State services, particularly supported by a statistics component via a direct subsidy to the National Institute of Statistics.
Reference documents - Forest governance / FLEGT VPA in Cameroon
Technical and Financial Cooperation
Technical and financial cooperation is deployed through several instruments in Cameroon and in the sub-region
The European Development Fund (EDF)
Created in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome and used for the first time in 1959, the objective of the EDF is currently the financing of cooperation activities provided for by the Cotonou Agreement. In Cameroon, between the 1ster EDF, signed in 1960, and the 11theme EDF, signed in 2014, this instrument has financed projects for more than 953.43 million euros (626 billion FCFA) as development grants in various sectors: infrastructure, environment and forestry, education, health, trade and industry, agro-industry, rural development, social projects, etc.
Cameroon also benefits from the 11th EDF dedicated for Central Africa Region, which has as its priority areas: political integration and cooperation on security and peace, economic and trade integration and sustainable management of natural resources.
The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)
Its objective is to support the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law, respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms. More
The Instrument for Contributing to Stability and Peace (ICSP)
Its mission is to help prevent and respond to crises while creating a safe and stable environment around the world. More
The Emergency Trust Fund for Stability and Addressing the Root Causes of Irregular Migration and Displacement in Africa
This fund aims to strengthen regional stability in order to address the challenges of irregular migration and forced displacement. It also aims to facilitate migration management. More
The Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities Instrument
Its objective is to strengthen civil society organisations and local authorities, with the aim of improving governance and accountability through an inclusive policymaking process, enabling citizens and communities to express and structure their demands, particularly in the fight against injustice and inequality. More
Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM)
These measures aim to strengthen the competitiveness of the banana sector, promote economic diversification and address broader social, economic and environmental impacts. In Cameroon, the projects are specifically aimed at improving the working and living conditions of workers and improving the environmental conditions of banana production. More
Through the European Commission's Directorate for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), the European Union's humanitarian aid focuses on needs, with particular attention to the most vulnerable victims.
In Cameroon, the European Union's humanitarian funds provide assistance to refugees in terms of accommodation, food, access to drinking water, sanitation, health care and child protection. More
The European Investment Bank (EIB)
The EIB is the European Union's bank and the world's largest multilateral borrower and lender. Since October 2016, the EIB's regional office for Central Africa has been based in Yaoundé. More
The Fight Against COVID-19
As part of the fight against Covid-19, the European Union and its Member States, under the label #TeamEurope, have mobilized a package of more than 18 billion CFA francs (14 million euros) for Cameroon
As #TeamEurope — EU institutions and member states together — we are convinced that the scale of the pandemic requires a concerted and structured international response. The strong measures taken to contain the pandemic in Europe and elsewhere in the world can only have a lasting impact if the virus is defeated in all countries of the world, including Cameroon.
The European Union, with a massive mobilisation of resources worldwide, is one of the leading partners in supporting the most vulnerable countries and those most affected by Covid-19. Emergency aid, at this difficult time, is an expression of European solidarity with those in need around the world. It aims to save lives, to prevent and alleviate human suffering and also to mitigate the economic impact of the crisis, which is likely to hit many people, including the most vulnerable.
In Cameroon, a total envelope of more than 18 billion CFA francs (28 million euros) has been mobilised by the EU institutions, some of its Member States (Germany, France, Italy) and several of its companies. This amount should increase significantly in the coming months with the postponement by one year of the servicing of the 2020 debt following the announcement made by the donors of the Paris Club, of which several EU states are members. It should be recalled that the resources mobilised by the EU for the response to Covid-19 come from all its member states, including those not represented in Cameroon.
Partnership with Civil Society and Organizations (CSOs)
In order to establish a common strategic framework, the Delegation and the Member States of the European Union have jointly drawn up a "Roadmap for the EU's engagement with civil society" which sets out the main priorities and results to be achieved.
EU Support to Civil Society in Cameroon
The EU and its Member States are among the main donors providing support to civil society for their development and strategic action in the world. They are also a key strategic partner for civil society in Cameroon.
Between 2020 and 2022, the EU Delegation organised large-scale consultations with civil society organisations in the 10 regions of Cameroon to discuss on our future work together. Almost 400 organisations participated in the discussions and contributed to guide the work of the EU.
The new EU Civil Society Roadmap for the period 2021-2025 (EU Society Roadmap 2021-2025) integrates the main conclusions of our dialogue with civil society and sets a renewed framework for EU’s engagement with civil society in Cameroon, reinforcing the solid partnership and dialogue that existed thanks to years of solid collaboration. It reflects also the EU global priorities in the field of Human Rights and Democracy.
The EU civil society roadmap for Cameroon includes five key priorities:
- Contributing to advance towards a legal and institutional environment conducive for civil society;
- Strengthening the capacities and participation of Cameroonian civil society in public policy dialogue, supporting particularly the networks and platforms;
- Reinforcing the understanding and inclusion of gender equality and women’s empowerment (CLIP_Cameroun_2021-25;
- Encouraging civil society contribution to peace and stabilisation, particularly in the crisis zones;
- Establishing a structured dialogue between the EU, its Member States and civil society in Cameroon.
The Multi-Annual Indicative Programme 2021-2027 for Cameroon (MIP) embraces those priorities and includes dedicated allocations to support those goals in our bilateral programmes, in complementarity with the country allocations foreseen under other EU instruments including the EU thematic lines. In this sense, the support to human rights, democracy and gender equality are included among the three main priority domains for EU cooperation in the upcoming period, namely: 1) Governance, democratisation, peace and stability; 2) Inclusive growth, sustainable employment and the private sector; and 3) Green Deal: sustainable development and climate action.
Our flagship Programme in Support to Active Citizenship (PROCIVIS) (link is external), financed under the 11th European Development Fund, has already invested 10 million euros to support civil society development since 2018, as a follow up of previous civil society support programmes. PROCIVIS aims at strengthening rule of law and democratic governance in Cameroon through the promotion and consolidation of citizenship, involving the full recognition of their civil and political rights. Concretely, PROCIVIS goal is to strengthen access to improved civil status registration services, and to support the role of Cameroonian civil society organisations in democratic governance and the management of public affairs across the country.
The work of PROCIVIS includes the support to 22 grassroot CSOs and the National Civil Status Registration Office (BUNEC) to improve civil registration services, and the strengthening of the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) to improve the conditions for the exercise of public freedoms in Cameroon. Furthermore, 11 networks of Civil Society Organizations have received grants for the implementation of activities oriented towards the involvement and participation of citizens in the monitoring and implementation of public policies.
Beyond that, the EU supports civil society organisations through with more than 26 ongoing projects in 2022 (14 million EUR) specifically dedicated to support civil society development, human rights and fundamental freedoms, gender equality and active and inclusive participation in decision-making.
The EU launches calls for proposals on periodic bases to finance civil society actions in different areas. You can find further information on EU funding opportunities and ongoing calls by consulting the official publications in the following website : https://ec.europa.eu/international-partnerships/funding
EU support to Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Cameroon
In November 2020, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy presented the EU Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in External Action 2021–2025 (GAP III), an ambitious plan to promote gender equality and women's empowerment through all external action of the European Union.
To translate the third EU Gender Action Plan (GAP III) into action in Cameroon, the EUD developed in 2021 :
The CLIP Cameroon is based on an extensive consultation with Cameroonian women’s rights defenders and civil society organisations, authorities, donors and EU Member States present in Cameroon, and incorporates the findings of recent gender analyses including those conducted by EU Member States in the country.
The CLIP identifies three priorities for EU actions in Cameroon:
- Combating violence, harmful practices and gender-based discrimination and promoting and protecting the right of every person to exercise full control and to take free and responsible decisions on matters related to his or her sexual and reproductive health and rights, without discrimination, coercion or violence;
- Promoting economic and social rights and ensuring the empowerment of girls and women, including in the green and circular economy; and
- Promoting civic participation and women’s leadership in particular for conflict prevention and resolution.
The CLIP Cameroon foresees dedicated EU actions to support gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as gender mainstreaming across all EU actions, combined with policy dialogue with authorities, donors and civil society on this matter.
At present, the EU is already supporting gender equality in Cameroon with more than 12 ongoing projects in 2022 (6 million EUR) specifically dedicated to fighting against gender-based violence and against gender discrimination, promoting women’s active participation, and supporting women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship. Thanks to these projects, hundreds of women have been able to launch their own businesses or projects and to shape decision-making in their communities, while GBV survivors’ have received access to medical care, legal assistance, and economic opportunities.
Further actions are envisaged in the upcoming period to ensure that the EU leads by example and that our future programmes in Cameroon for the period 2021-25 contribute to ensure that at least 85% of all new EU actions worldwide will contribute to gender equality and women's empowerment by 2025.
Energy is a strategic and international issue that cannot be ignored, and is a historic element in the construction of Europe. The European Union is now acting to ensure the continent's energy supply, maintain affordable prices and develop renewable production
Within the framework of the "Sustainable Energy for All" (SE4ALL) process and on the occasion of the "Focus on Energy", which was held during the Paris Climate Conference (COP21), the Government of Cameroon, the European Commission and France signed on 7 December 2015, a joint declaration to strengthen cooperation on sustainable energy and climate change. This document constitutes a political commitment by the three parties to define concrete actions that are gradually being implemented.