This encouraging acknowledgment is made in the report issued today on the partnership between the EU and Lebanon for the period from May 2017 to May 2018. It highlights key developments in EU-Lebanon cooperation with a particular focus on achieving the objectives set under the Partnership Priorities and Compact mutually agreed in November 2016.
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: "The European Union is a longstanding friend of Lebanon. Our priority has always been and will always be to preserve and continue to build Lebanon's strength, independence, economic development and security. It is our objective to support the Lebanese institutions so that they can deliver on what the Lebanese citizens wants, and to plan the future work that we can continue to do together."
"Attracting investments into Lebanon to stimulate jobs and growth will remain the priority for our cooperation with Lebanon", added Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. "Our aim is to support economic prosperity, stability and security of Lebanon as well as progress in democracy, while helping Lebanon maintains its outstanding efforts to host refugees fleeing from the Syrian war."
Reaffirming its political support and following the request of the Lebanese government, the EU supported the preparations of Lebanon's first parliamentary elections in 9 years held on 6 May 2018, which marked a significant step forward for democracy and provided the Lebanese parliament with renewed legitimacy.
Work during the reporting period confirmed how intertwined economic prosperity, stability and security are with democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. The EU showed continued support to Lebanon in all these fields. This was notably testified by a number of high-level meetings between the EU and Lebanese authorities, as well as the holding within the EU (in Rome, Paris and Brussels) of three international conferences within a five-week period (March to April 2018), with the first two being solely dedicated to Lebanon.
During the Rome II Conference in March, the EU welcomed the reforms proposed by Lebanon for the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces and announced €50 million to strengthen their capacities in compliance with human rights. Intensive work on the implementation of the 2016 counterterrorism roadmap continued.
In the run-up to the CEDRE Conference in Paris in April - an international donor meeting in support of Lebanon's economy - the EU presented its External Investment Plan (EIP) in Beirut and held a three-day policy dialogue in Brussels on economic affairs including bilateral trade and investment. Lebanon presented its strategic economic vision, a Capital Investment Plan and a detailed reform agenda including anti-corruption measures, while the EU announced up to €150 million in support over the next three years that can generate up to €1.5 billion in loans.
At both conferences, the EU and Lebanon agreed to set up follow-up mechanisms to track progress of the implementation of political and financial commitments and, importantly, of the reform agenda. This will be the basis for more cooperation in the years to come.
The EU and Lebanon undertook the above work while Lebanon's hosting of over one million Syrian refugees remains a challenge in the political, economic, and social sphere. As reaffirmed at the Second Brussels Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the Region at the end of April, the EU maintained its financial support for Lebanon over the reporting period. Since 2011, the EU has allocated over €1.6 billion out of which €1.3 billion to assist the country in coping with the consequences of the Syria crisis. This includes humanitarian assistance as well as longer-term resilience and development support for both Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities with a primary focus on health and education.
The report outlined that the EU-Lebanon Partnership Priorities and Compact provide a solid framework for further strategic development of EU-Lebanon cooperation. While the EU will continue to support measures that contribute to a more stable, democratic and prosperous Lebanon, the prioritisation and sequencing of reforms by Lebanon are crucial to optimise future EU cooperation. The EU remains strongly committed to supporting Lebanon to address the most pressing needs while promoting longer-term economic development of the country and the benefit of its people.
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