Bolivia and the European Union have established a broad relationship based on political dialogue and development cooperation since 1995.

Political Relations

Democratic Commitment

The Bolivian – EU relationship has been strengthened throughout the years and has achieved positive outcomes that go beyond the cooperation programmes, currently, in the areas of water, sanitation and environment, fight against drug trafficking and judicial reform and good governance. Along with regular initiatives, the relationship has addressed important topics such as human rights and support to civil society.  

In general, Bolivia and the EU hold regular high-level dialogues to establish common ground on relevant bilateral matters. During the 2019/20 transition phase, the EU has co-facilitated political dialogue leading to peaceful and transparent elections in October 2020.

Currently, in a spirit of global solidarity, the EU is supporting the COVAX-facility in its efforts to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines. As the largest exporter of COVID-19 vaccines to the world and one of the main contributors to COVAX, the EU is helping to ensure delivery of vaccinations to Bolivia for 20% of its population of about 5 million doses.

Economic and Trade Relations

Improving business opportunities

Economic relations between Bolivia and the EU have increased in recent years. Europe is the most important investor in Bolivia and the presence of the EU Delegation aims to create conditions that allow the country to reap the benefits of frictionless trade with Europe. 

In this regard, the EU and Bolivia maintain regular contacts to improve institutional and legal frameworks conducive to trade and foreign investment.

Trade relations between the EU and Bolivia are governed by the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP +), which allows Bolivia duty-free access to the European market for a number of products.

As a result, trade between Bolivia and the EU reached EUR 932 million in 2020.

In addition, this system gives Bolivia the opportunity to diversify its exports, which are mainly based on raw materials, towards other products with higher added value. 

These are some figures for bilateral trade in 2020:

  • The EU is Bolivia’s fourth trading partner. Bolivia is the EU’s 110th trading partner;
  • Bolivia exported EUR 539 million of goods to the EU, -11 % compared to the previous year;
  • Bolivia’s imports of goods from the EU totalled EUR 393 million, -37 % compared to the previous year;
  • 37 % of Bolivia’s exports to the EU are minerals (73 % zinc), 20 % are vegetable products (Brazil nuts and quinoa) and 17 % are gold jewellery;
  • 50 % of imports from the EU are machinery and transport equipment;

These figures should be interpreted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its significant impact on international trade during 2020. In fact, they should be contrasted with the variation in Bolivia's total trade from 2019 to 2020: Bolivian total exports fell 29% while imports fell 24%.

Technical and financial cooperation

Partners for development

Approved in December 2021, the Multi-annual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2021-2027 MIP sets the objectives and priorities for the European Union’s support to sustainable development in Bolivia in the coming 7 years. Under this framework, Bolivia remains one of the main recipients of EU bilateral development aid in Latin America, through grants totalling an indicative maximum of €104 million for the initial period of 2021-2024.

The EU MIP is aligned to the national development strategies of the Bolivian Government (the Patriotic Agenda 2015-2025 and the Economic and Social Development Plan 2021-2025). It is also anchored in the broader Joint European Strategy for Bolivia - 2022-2025 (JES), which provides the strategic framework agreed by all European actors present in Bolivia (Team Europe+) to improve our collective impact, coordination and visibility.

The EU international partnership with Bolivia represents common priorities along the objectives of:

  • Contributing to a successful green and sustainable global economic recovery, linking investments to the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement; fighting inequalities by building more inclusive and sustainable and digital economies and societies, supporting human development, specially targeting women and young people: priority area 1.
  • Promoting human rights and democracy, good governance and rule of law, as well as contributing to ensure peace and security: priority area 2.

Along these lines, the two priority areas under the 2021-2027 MIP are:

  1. Priority area 1 - Environment, Climate Change and Inclusive Economic Development

    1. Sector 1. Sustainable Environment Management and Disaster Risk Reduction
    2. Sector 2. Water, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management
    3. Sector 3: Integral Rural Development
  2. Priority area 2 - Governance and Human Rights
    1. Sector 1: Rule of Law, Democracy and Human Rights
    2. Sector 2: Fight against corruption and illicit drug trafficking

Interventions in these priority areas will contribute to the 2030 Agenda and will put into practice the EU’s approach for financing sustainable development and poverty eradication as defined in the 2015  Addis Ababa Conference.

The MIP reflects the overarching EU strategic policy priorities and EU values: green deal including climate change and environment, sustainable and inclusive growth with decent jobs, governance, peace and security, including human rights, democracy and rule of law. All those constitute a ground of shared interests and priorities between the EU and Bolivia.

Dialogue with the civil society

Development and Participation

Alongside the bilateral cooperation programme, the EU maintains a constant dialogue with Bolivian civil society organisations, which it supports and considers key partners in the policy of democratic development.

Civil Society Organisations actively contribute to the definition of cooperation principles by reinforcing their role in citizen participation and by forming a major channel for official aid to reach the most disadvantaged and marginalised.

Every year, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, the European Union supports projects carried out by Civil Society Organizations, also by encouraging partnerships with local authorities, in different sectors of activity and geographical areas of the national territory.

Humanitarian Aid

Supporting Vulnerable Populations

The EU is one of the main providers of humanitarian aid in Bolivia through the agency European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). Two types of projects are currently underway:

  • Rapid response to the needs generated by emergencies and disasters, especially those related to forest fires.
  • Improving preparedness and risk prevention capacities and resilience to recurrent natural events (e.g. fires).

Currently, Bolivia benefits from six projects:

  • EuroPana: Promoting assistance and protection for vulnerable persons in Venezuela as well as migrants, asylum seekers and local vulnerable persons in COLOMBIA, BRAZIL, BOLIVIA, ECUADOR and PERU. Implemented by CARITAS – LU.
  • Strengthening of comprehensive and multisectoral risk management to reduce livelihoods vulnerability of indigenous communities exposed to multiple threats and hidden risks in the Bolivian Altiplano and Colombia. Implemented by FAO (Multi-country: Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela)
  • Strengthen the disaster and crisis preparedness and response of the governments of Bolivia and Ecuador. Implemented by IFRC International Federation of the Red Cross         (Multi-country: Ecuador and Bolivia)
  • Children and adolescents from indigenous communities from the greater Paraguayan and Bolivian Chaco have resilient schools and protective environments. Implemented by UNICEF
  • Strengthening preparedness capacities and inclusive governance of indigenous and small farmers' communities and health networks of Chiquitania in risk of forest fires in the COVID-19 context. Implemented by UNDP (Consortium PAHO and FAN).
  • Implementing the Sendai Framework through disaster preparedness, coordination and knowledge in Latin America and the Caribbean. Implemented by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.