The partnership between the European Union and Malawi 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 gradual (regional and global) integration of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries into the world economy.

Political Relations

Political Framework

The partnership between the European Union and Malawi 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 gradual (regional and global) integration of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries into the world economy.

Political and Policy dialogues

Relations between Malawi and the EU are traditionally cordial and close. Two EU Member States are represented at embassy level in Malawi, namely Germany and Ireland.

Cotonou Agreement

The Cotonou Agreement, notably its articles 8 to 13, defines the bilateral framework for the political dialogue between Malawi and the EU. The Agreement has been extended to June 2023. A new treaty has been negotiated and should enter into force by mid-2023. Other conventions and political commitments include the EU-Africa Strategic Partnership, the Country Strategy Paper (CSP) and the Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP). In addition there are the Malawi strategic documents, in particular the Malawi 2063 National development plan and the Malawi 2063 First Ten Year Implementation Plan.

Further dialogue and cooperation between Malawi and the EU also involves the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Economic Relations, trade, investments

The European Union is Malawi's third largest world-trading partner, after South Africa and China, and represents 12.1% of Malawi’s total trade in 2020 Malawi's exports to the EU totalled EUR 177 million in 2020, representing 26.7% of Malawi's total exports to the rest of the world, while its imports from the EU made up EUR 149 million (7.3% of the country's imports).

Malawi's exports to the EU consist mainly of beverages and tobacco, sugar and tea whilst the country mainly imports chemicals, machinery/appliances and transport equipment from the EU.

Malawi benefits from preferential treatment and its exports to the EU market enjoy quota and duty-free access under the Everything but Arms (EBA) agreement.

Trade relations

Trade and private sector development have been and remain an important component of the EU’s development cooperation with Malawi. The EU has been actively supporting the development of the private sector in Malawi across the focal areas of the EU-Malawi cooperation strategy. This entails for instance support to technical and vocational training, access to affordable finance for start-ups and young entrepreneurs, agri-business development under a value-chain approach, and entrepreneurship development. Jointly with the European Investment Bank, the EU Delegation supports improved access to finance for SMEs contributing to a structural transformation of Malawi’s economy. Support to Malawi’s regional integration efforts is also prominent in the EU’s cooperation relations with Malawi. 

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    Through Farmer Field Schools under Kulima Programme, EU is promoting improved ecosystem practices through conservation agriculture.

    Through Farmer Field Schools under Kulima Programme, EU is promoting improved ecosystem practices through conservation agriculture.

    Copyright: FAO Malawi

Sustainable Development and Green Economy

The European Union strongly supports the country’s efforts towards a sustainable and inclusive economic transformation that is green and resilient to shocks. Private sector led-growth, in particular in the green and circular economy where significant opportunities exist, will help young Malawians increase productivity and consumption. Malawi needs decent jobs for the growing number of youth entering the labour market every year, to be able to harness the benefit of a demographic dividend (provided the birth rate continues to decrease).

For this to happen, the EU partners with Malawi Government and the private sector to develop diversified and commercially modern agriculture and agro-industry, driven by a healthy and productive workforce. This in turn requires further crowding in sizeable sustainable investment in economic infrastructure, in addition to progress in further improving governance systems and building human capital.

Development Cooperation & Humanitarian Aid

Since 1976 the European Union institutions have provided more than 2 billion euros in development aid to Malawi. In order to help the country in addressing its multiple challenges, the EU’s development cooperation relations with Malawi focus on job creation in a broad sense, in particular through economic development on the basis of agriculture-driven growth and education and skills development of the youth. It does so while addressing weaknesses in domestic accountability and supporting those most exposed to recurring external shocks.

The EU plays an important role as a partner for jobs and growth. Support to improving the business environment and the investment climate, value chain development and skills development are enabling factors for the development of the country, as also highlighted in the Malawi 2063 vision document. At the same time, support to connectivity, especially with Mozambique and Zambia, is key for regional integration and addresses the issues of high transport costs and deficient power supply, which hamper the capacity of Malawi to trade in the region.

Furthermore, a stable and inclusive society is an important pre-condition for growth to pick up. The EU assumes its role in supporting the electoral process and the respect of human rights and the rule of law. As inequality and poverty are high, continued attention to inclusive growth remains central to the EU’s partnership with Malawi.

For the period 2014-2020, over EUR 700 million has been allocated to Malawi. EUR 560 million was allocated to the National Indicative Programme under the 11th EDF. In addition, from the regional indicative programme, a further EUR 100 million was allocated to infrastructure programmes in Malawi that improve its regional connectivity. The balance was allocated from different instruments to civil society support, human rights, research and, through the humanitarian aid office ECHO, to emergency relief response, food assistance and disaster preparedness. All of the EU’s development cooperation and humanitarian aid is grant funding.

With the launch of the new Multiannual Indicative Programme 2021-2027 the European Union has committed to provide Euro 352 Million for the next three years; while the financial allocation for 2025-2027 will be determined following a review in 2024.

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    Through various projects, EU supports Malawi’s preparedness and resilience in times of natural disasters

    Through various projects, EU supports Malawi’s preparedness and resilience in times of natural disasters.

    Copyright: ECHO

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    Solar power-Malawi

    EU in Malawi trains Solar Energy Technicians

Energy, Environment, climate change

The EU in Malawi through its development cooperation budget has become a strategic development partner in environmental, natural resources and climate change management, providing support in specific thematic areas of climate change, agriculture, nutrition and food security.

Tackling issues of environmental and natural resources management is an integral part of flagship programmes such as Kutukula Ulimi m’Malawi (KULIMA) and AFIKEPO-Nutrition Programmes, and their successor Greening and Growing Malawi - Ulimi ndi Chilengedwe m’Malawi (UCHI), as well as Skills for Jobs Programme (Zantchito), Improving Secondary Education in Malawi (ISEM II),  and Gender Responsive Social Protection programme.

To contribute to breaking the cycle of environmental degradation in Malawi, the EU under its Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2021-2027 for Malawi has included support to actions that will increase the country’s resilience to climate change, disaster risks and natural resource scarcity and degradation, and in so doing also protect and increase carbon sinks, thereby contributing to Malawi’s Nationally Determined Contribution.

In Malawi’s long-term development plan, Malawi 2063, the energy sector is recognised as one of the main enablers essential to transforming the country’s economy. Currently the Malawi electrical transmission system operates as a kind of “electrical island” within the region. Together with partners, the EU is funding the construction of the Mozambique-Malawi 400 kV Interconnector that will integrate Malawi in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and allow it to become a fully-fledged operating member of this important regional energy group.

The EU has also supported rural communities in the Chikwawa and Nsanje Districts through the construction of mini-grids (15 to 30 kW) for productive use in irrigation schemes as well as supplying schools and village energy kiosks.



Human rights, democracy, rule of law

In line with the EU Human Rights and Democracy Strategy, the EU in Malawi continues its support to Malawi for it to achieve continuous improvements in the areas of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This implies strengthening the quality of electoral processes, including for the delivery of inclusive, transparent and well-managed elections in 2025, and to address challenges related to human rights violations, gender inequality and gender-based violence, violence against children and limited access to justice for the marginalised groups.

To that end, there is need for continuous support to strengthening institutional capacities of oversight institutions (e.g. Malawi Electoral Commission, Malawi Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman), of the judiciary and of law enforcement institutions. It also requires empowering citizens’ voice, in particular from civil society, communities’ structures, and the media, in order for them to provide reliable information, keep oversight of the public sector’s action and engage in advocacy. This includes improving the access to information, to ensure that necessary checks and balances in the democratic system can function effectively.

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    Human Rights-Malawi

    Children advocate for equal rights for all

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    EU in Malawi supports Civil Society Organisations

Civil society dialogue

The European Union in Malawi has a long-standing relationship with civil society. CSOs are recognised as essential to the country’s development both in their role as providers of public services and in their advocacy and oversight role contributing to the continuous improvement of mutual accountability, democracy and human rights. CSOs are regularly consulted when identifying and formulating priorities for the EU’s cooperation with Malawi, such as the EU Human Rights and Democracy Strategy (2021- 2024).

During the period 2014-2020, around EUR 70 million has been awarded to CSOs pursuing objectives in a broad set of policy areas (human rights, gender equity, governance, food security, social protection and others). In addition, Malawian non-state actors are often called upon to assist in implementation of a variety of EU-funded projects which complement the provision of public services by the state in areas like agriculture, food security, water and sanitation, education and skills development.

In case of questions please contact the EU Delegation's civil society focal person, Ms. Grace Mganga at

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    Young Malawians performing at the joint EU, AU and Malawi Government Conference on youth employment in Malawi-December 2020.

Cultural and Public diplomacy

The Delegation contributes and encourages a close information-sharing, reporting and joint outreach, and public diplomacy by holding regular EU Heads of Mission meetings, and where possible organising demarches, political dialogues, outreach and public events together. 

The Delegation carries out its public diplomacy activities through cultural events, social and traditional media relations, economic and climate diplomacy. We organise and support various cultural events like the European Film Festival to promote the image of a creative Europe to Malawians as well as to foster mutual understanding between cultures.

The overarching theme for 2021 is ‘Greener Together’, building on the concepts of partnership and green recovery. This theme serves as a guiding principle when organising general events. The EU in Malawi is leading by example as far as its environmental impact is concerned. In this time of a pandemic, our public outreach activities take place in a way that fully takes account of Covid-19 constraints.

Please follow us on Facebook (European Union in Malawi) and Twitter (@EUinMalawi) for our day-to-day cultural and public diplomacy activities.