The EU has been supporting poverty reduction in Vietnam and the country's integration into the world economy since the 1990s. Development cooperation between Vietnam and the EU began with support for the return of Vietnamese asylum seekers. Since then, the European Commission has provided more than €600 million in grants for specific projects and programmes, mainly in the area of education and health, rural development, governance and economic cooperation.
In its relations with Vietnam, the EU aims at:
Supporting the sustainable economic development of Vietnam and the improvement of living conditions of the poor;
Encouraging the integration of Vietnam in the world economy and trading system and supporting the process of economic and social reforms;
Supporting Vietnam's transition to an open society based on sound governance, rule of law and respect for human rights.
Bilateral Cooperation with the EU
EU development cooperation with Vietnam has focused on support to Vietnam’s programmes to address poverty and support the health sector. In addition, the EU has provided trade-related assistance and support to the justice sector and civil society. For the period 2007-2013, bilateral European Commission assistance to Vietnam amounted to €300 million.
Vietnam is now entering a new phase of national development and has the objective of becoming industrialised by 2020. To do so, it needs to move from a growth model based on low-cost labour to one based on innovation and productivity growth. This calls for major structural changes and continued investments in infrastructure and human capital. Governance capacity and the role for civil society need to be strengthened and innovative social policies need to be promoted to tackle rising inequalities and poverty in ethnic minority groups.
The main objectives of EU cooperation with Vietnam for the time period 2014-2020 are to accompany Vietnam in this transition, focusing on two sectors:
The EU will support Vietnam in making the energy sector more sustainable by fostering private sector investment while increasing the share of renewable energy and ensuring access for all to energy at affordable prices, especially for the poor and near poor.
A first programme is currently being considered to support Vietnam’s national programme on electricity supply to rural, mountainous and island areas over the 2013 – 2020 period. The national programme targets 48 provinces, foreseeing electricity supply to rural, mountainous and island areas; mainly through grid extension and off-grid rural electrification projects for the islands.
Governance and the rule of law
EU support will promote democracy, strengthen governance and rule of law and enable the business environment by building accountable and transparent institutions that are responsive to citizens’ rights, and promote access to justice, as well as a conducive business environment. A first programme should soon start its activities to promote access to fair justice to the most vulnerable groups (women, children and ethnic minorities).
The EU also supports local government and civil society organisation partners through its thematic instruments in fields as diverse as women and children's rights, trade unions, climate change, energy efficiency, governance and nuclear safety to promote interventions at local level, local authorities and local civil society capacity building, technology transfer and exchange of knowledge. More than 30 projects are supported throughout the country.
EU ASEAN Cooperation
The European Union and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) share a commitment to regional integration as a means of fostering regional stability, building prosperity, and addressing global challenges.
The EU together with the Member States supports the ASEAN region with some €2 billion (2007-2013). Between 2014-2020, the EU will support ASEAN integration and the ASEAN Secretariat with €170 million. This is more than double the amount under the previous cycle (close to €70 million in the time period 2007-2013).
Key results of EU Cooperation
Our long-lasting trade-related assistance has successfully accompanied Vietnam’s integration in the international economy and is now in its 4th phase. It has been instrumental for Vietnam's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and currently supports, among other things, EU-Vietnam free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
The use of the country's own system has enabled us to increase the impact of EU aid funds. An example is our support to the health sector reform via budget support (€100 million) which has contributed, among others, to increase sector budget allocations at national and provincial level, and to improve the quality of health services, specifically in the poorest provinces.