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European Commission - Press release

Commissioner Piebalgs calls for urgent reforms in finance and governance to accelerate poverty reduction during visit to Afghanistan

Brussels, 19 June 2011 - EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, today arrived in Afghanistan, for a visit designed to discuss the next steps of EU cooperation with the country. Commissioner Piebalgs will meet with high level Government representatives in Afghanistan and UN agencies and will visit some EU funded projects.

During the visit, discussions particularly will focus on the areas of good governance, including civil police reform, justice, public administration and the need to improve public finance management. The EU is ready to commit €200 million in 2011 to these sectors; all of which are crucial to the country's long-term growth and development. Moreover, big part of the funds will be invested in rural development. Around two thirds of the Afghanistan's people live in rural areas, most of them below poverty line. Further investments are required to improve local employment and increase income of the population. This, in turn will also lead to greater food security in the region.

The Commissioner also underlined the EU's ongoing commitment to the development of Afghanistan, and called on the Afghan Government to become more engaged in future development decisions in order to make EU-Afghan cooperation more effective and, as a result, make the country more stable.

Commissioner Piebalgs said: "Afghanistan has already made considerable progress in areas like rural development and health, but over half of the Afghan population still live below the poverty line. We now need to continue to build on our partnership to ensure that even more is done to make the country as efficient, stable, and well-run as possible and that the lives of the Afghan people, especially the most vulnerable ones, are improved as a result."

The EU is one of the major donors to Afghanistan – providing some €1 billion -with contributions from Member States- each year.

The visit to Afghanistan is part of a joint trip to the region with the German Development Minister, Dirk Niebel.

Background

EU Support to Afghanistan

Between 2002- 2010 the European Commission committed more than €2 billion in assistance to Afghanistan, including €345.2 million in humanitarian assistance.

It is now expected to spend €600 million between 2011-2013 – an increase of over 30%.

Priority areas for the EU in Afghanistan include agriculture, governance, health and regional cooperation.

For more information:

MEMO/11/422

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)


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