The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission have today adopted a Joint Communication that sets out a vision for ambitious and forward-looking EU engagement with Myanmar as the country’s transition enters its next phase.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, said: “Myanmar is at a turning point. The newly elected government has expressed its willingness to bring peace and development to its people, through a democratic path. As the European Union, we have constantly accompanied this path, and we are committed to cooperate even more with Myanmar to support the reform efforts of the government: to strengthen democracy, good governance, the rule of law, peace, national reconciliation and human rights, to tackle poverty and to boost trade and investment. With this Joint Communication, the EU renews its strong commitment to work with Myanmar’s authorities and civil society to reinforce our bilateral relations, to the benefit of our people.”
The Joint Communication looks at how best to work with all stakeholders towards consolidating democracy, creating lasting peace, bringing equitable development and social justice in alignment with the priorities of the government and the aspirations of the people.
Concrete proposals and commitments contained in the Joint Communication, entitled “Elements for an EU strategy vis-à-vis Myanmar/Burma: A Special Partnership for Democracy, Peace and Prosperity”, include:
- Supporting Myanmar’s goal to become a sustainable democracy with full respect for the rule of law through building effective institutions, assisting the reform of the security sector, and increased and differentiated engagement with society as a whole, including local governments, the justice sector, parliaments and civil society.;
- Cooperating with all concerned to implement an inclusive peace architecture including through a Joint Peace Fund. To help achieve lasting peace, the EU will share its experience, and work on building confidence and fostering reconciliation between the parties;
- Working together with the Government of Myanmar on addressing human rights concerns, including the situation in Rakhine State and respect for minorities, combating hate speech and intolerance, and ensuring the full implementation of UN human rights resolutions;
- Working directly with relevant institutions to increase the effectiveness of social services and to formulate sector policies as part of a state-building approach. Targeted technical cooperation will also be expanded to support the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development;
- Stimulating European business interest through the conclusion of an Investment Protection Agreement, while also promoting corporate social responsibility and responsible investment;
- Enhancing cooperation with Myanmar as a member of ASEAN so as to strengthen the regional integration process as well as the EU’s enhanced partnership with ASEAN.
The proposed actions will be discussed with the EU Member States and the European Parliament in the coming weeks.
In recognition of Myanmar’s remarkable transition, the EU rapidly re-engaged with the country and provided significant support to encourage reforms. In July 2013, the EU defined its priorities in the so-called Comprehensive Framework, which was specifically aimed at guiding EU policy in the run-up to the elections in November 2015. The arrival in office of Myanmar’s democratically elected government on 1 April 2016 provided the opportunity for the EU to take a fresh look at its engagement with the country and align with the new priorities.
Myanmar is strategically located between India and China. It has abundant natural resources (land, water, forests, fossil fuels, minerals and gems) and a young labour force (55% of the population is under the age of 30). With a population of 51.5 million it constitutes a market of significant potential for EU exporters and investors. It is a member of ASEAN, home to over 600 million people, and will benefit from the ambitious regional economic integration process. The country is also the fastest growing tourism market in the region. In 2014/2015 the economy grew by 8.5%. Real GDP growth is forecast to average around 8-9% annually in 2016-20, underpinned by large projects funded by foreign investors.
For more information :
MEMO/16/2009: Q&A: The EU and Myanmar: A special partnership for peace, democracy and prosperity
MEMO/16/2010: The European Union and Myanmar: A special partnership for democracy, peace and prosperity