The European Union has announced the doubling of the bilateral assistance package in 2016 from €14.5 million in 2015 to €29 million in 2016 to Belarus. The funding is intended to support the country's efforts to implement reforms and will allow for fresh support to regional and private sector development, migration and asylum management, and continued support to the European Humanities University.
Funding will be provided to strengthen private sector development (€14 million) by contributing to participatory and sustainable social and economic development in Belarus. With a focus on regions with low competitiveness, the EU will provide support to innovation for local inclusive development. The programme will support the strengthening of local business advisory services and as a result increase the know-how of small and medium-sized enterprises. It will also provide additional support to access to finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and social enterprises.
The actions will also help Belarus to address the phenomenon of increasing numbers of irregular migrants (€7 million) by assisting the Belarusian government in the development and implementation of a fully-fledged irregular migration management strategy in line with international migrants' rights and standards, which will contribute to the strengthening and respect for human rights and fundamental rights aspects in the area of irregular migration. The action will support an Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme, as well as the construction or renovation of temporary migrants' accommodation centres.
Another initiative will also provide support Belarus (€6 million) to strengthen institutions by supporting the implementation of structural and institutional reforms in key areas through enhancing the capacity of Belarusian public governmental institutions, state and semi-state enterprises in policy advice. The action will also promote good governance, justice, gender equality and rule of law. Twinning will be proposed as a new modality for cooperation with Belarus.
Additionally, the EU will also provide support to the European Humanities University based in Vilnius (€2 million) will support democratic developments in Belarus by providing independent higher education for young Belarusians.
The adoption of the Council Conclusions on Belarus on 15 February lifting most of the restrictive measures set out a number of positive measures to deepen engagement.
The key priority sectors for the EU's support to Belarus in the period 2014-2017 are social inclusion (employment, vocational education and training, support to the European Humanities University) environment, and local and regional development.
The current funding comes through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), the main financial and cooperation instrument through which the funding is given to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries, including Belarus.
For more information
Website of EU Delegation to Belarus: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/belarus/index_en.htm
Eastern Partnership: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/neighbourhood/eastern-partnership/index_en.htm
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre: http://www.enpi-info.eu/