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Commissioner Piebalgs in Myanmar to reinforce development co-operation

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Yangon_city-centerDevelopment Commissioner Andris Piebalgs has announced the proposed main sectors for development co-operation with Myanmar from 2014 – 2020, during a visit to the country (13-15 November) to participate in the first EU-Myanmar Task Force.

These sectors will be rural development, education, governance and support to peace building. Although the bilateral assistance budget hasn’t been formally approved by the European Parliament and the European Council, EU support could increase up to €90 million per year.

Commissioner Piebalgs said: “The development taking place in Myanmar is unprecedented and to needs to be acknowledged. But we must not forget about the challenges ahead, for which the EU, as one of the main donors, will stand by with further support to continue the necessary reforms in the country. This will be done in coordination with member states and other donors, and in harmony with the government's own plans.”

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In addition to attending the Task Force Meeting, Commissioner Piebalgs is also chairing a Development Forum with the Myanmar Minister of Planning, Kan Zaw, with the presence of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar opposition leader and democracy campaigner, and with civil society organisations and private sector representatives. The forum will provide an opportunity to discuss a coordinated response from the EU and member states and to support the government's development plans over the next few years, as well as to review and debate the key development challenges facing Myanmar.

Commissioner Piebalgs is also taking part in the official launch of the SWITCH-SMART (SMEs for Environmental, Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency) programme. The project promotes and supports sustainable production of garments 'made in Myanmar' striving to increase the international competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in this sector. The 3-year project is funded with an EU grant of about €2 million and aims to reduce poverty through trade and private sector development in Myanmar.

The visit of the EU-Myanmar Task Force will be another good occasion to engage with member states in a process with the objective of less fragmentation and, therefore, achieve a greater impact on the ground (known as Joint Programming). Through joint programming, the EU and its member states jointly assess the priorities in each partner country to establish a common framework to implement their development programmes.

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Background

The EU has provided development assistance to Myanmar since 1996, with over €300 million committed so far. Following the political opening of the country Commissioner Piebalgs announced a package of support of €150 million early last year for 2012 and 2013, all of which has already been committed. €100 million of this was committed in 2012 building upon existing support. Funds went to sectors such as health, education livelihoods, aid to uprooted people and civil society. Support to civil society will go towards monitoring of reform and transition, addressing discrimination (ethnic tensions) and domestic observation of the electoral cycle. The remaining €50 million were committed in 2013 to provide support to peace building, climate change and trade and private sector projects.

Achievements and results of current EU funded programmes

Education

The EU supports an education project (Quality Basic education Programme) to reach disadvantaged children and communities and to contribute to reducing disparity in both access and quality of education. It also focuses on basic education (early childhood education, primary education, non-formal education). The total budget of the programme is €66 million, with an EU contribution (2013-2015) of €22 million.

Some of the results so far include:

  • More than 600,000 children attending more than 4,000 primary schools in the 25 townships benefited from the Child-Friendly School (CFS) approach;
  • more than 900,000 children received essential learning packages to support their schooling;
  • 230,000 children under five in disadvantaged and hard to reach areas attended Early Childhood Development (ECD) services, and;
  • 28,500 teachers receiving training in child-centred approaches.

Civil Society

There is a very dynamic and diverse civil society in Myanmar that has significantly grown in the past few years. Since 2008 the EU has supported the civil society and other donors in Myanmar through programmes like The Non-State actor programme and Local Authorities (NSA/LA), The Instrument for stability (IfS), The Assistance to Uprooted People programme (AUP), etc.

Under NSA/LA, funding is provided to various initiatives countrywide and in a broad range of sectors, to enhance the ability of local and community based organisations and local authorities to contribute to poverty alleviation through the delivery of community-based services and small-scale development projects (in health, education, livelihoods, disaster risk reductions, environment), and focusing on marginalised groups.

The AUP programme provides support to internally displaced people (IDP) – especially in ethnic states. About €55 million has been allocated since 2004 to improve livelihoods and living conditions for IDPs, provide a degree of protection from forced repatriation or relocation and from other human rights abuses, and promote reconciliation and conflict resolution through community participation and constructive engagement. More than €26 million of on-going projects are implemented through NGOs.

Further information

Task Force Website

Memo (AGRI)

Memo (ENTR)

Follow the event here.

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs.

Website of DG Development and Cooperation - EuropeAid – cooperation with the Myanmar (Burma).

EU-Myanmar relations.

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Kazakh president sets out five priorities for #Kazakhstan’s 'Third Stage of Modernization' 

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In his annual address to the nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, announced five main priorities as part of what he described as “Kazakhstan’s third stage of modernization”. The priorities are aimed at ensuring economic growth and supporting the country to become one of the top 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050.

The five priorities are: Acceleration of technological modernization of the economy, improved business environment, macroeconomic stability, improved quality of human capital and institutional reforms, including improved security and more action to tackle corruption.

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President Nazarbayev said in his annual address: “I am setting the task of ensuring the implementation of the Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan. It is necessary to create a new model of economic growth that will ensure the country's global competitiveness.”

He added: “This modernization is not a plan to combat current global challenges, but a reliable bridge to the future, to meet the objectives of Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy. It will be carried out on the basis of the 100 Concrete Steps Plan of the Nation.”

The Head of State also instructed the Government to developa package of measures for the technological re-equipment of basic industries by 2025.

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The annual address followed a special announcement given by the President last week, in which he set out bold plansto increase the powers of parliament. President Nazarbayev stated that these constitutional reforms are aimed at furthering the democratic development of Kazakhstan, as the Government will be accountable to parliament.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev has proposed a constitutional reform aimed at furthering the democratic development of Kazakhstan. During a special televised address to the nation on 25 January, the President announced a number of functions that would be transferred either to the Government or Parliament. Public discussions on the proposed constitutional reforms will take place for the next month, concluding on 26 February. After this, the reforms will be presented to Parliament.