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Brussels, 26 June 2002

Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua: European Commission sets out five year strategy for co-operation (Country Strategy Papers)

The European Commission has adopted Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) for four countries from the Central American Region: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In each case the CSP sets the framework for the EU's assistance in that country. The European Commission remains the biggest donor of financial assistance to Central America, and a total of €444.5m has been agreed to support these strategies during the five year period 2002-2006. In addition,the Commission has adopted a CSP to reinforce its bilateral relationship with Mexico. An indicative figure of €56.2m has been pledged to implement this strategy 2002-2006.

Central America

The European Commission's priorities in Central America are in line with the broader priorities for the region set out at the recent Madrid summit. The reduction of social imbalances and the fight against poverty, the boosting of human resources above all through education, and the improvement of standards of governance are the common themes that link the CSPs published for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In implementing these strategies, the Commission intends to improve co-operation with Member States and other donors to the region, civil society, and local and national government. In order to maximise the effectiveness of the financial aid provided, the Commission will concentrate resources on a limited number of priorities in each country.

Priorities in El Salvador (€60m)

  • Improving democratisation and reinforcing the participation of civil society (€9m): concentrating on improving citizens' security, helping with the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the rehabilitation of young people in difficulty.

  • Encouraging the decentralisation of government and strengthening sustainable local development (€33m). Strengthening the legal and administrative framework of decentralisation and devising a series of pilot schemes for capacity building and the improvement of municipal services (for example water, education, health, environmental management).

  • Supporting the productive sector (€10m). Fostering indigenous private sector businesses at local level, particularly small and micro enterprises.

  • €8m is reserved for other activities identified during the implementation of the strategy.

Priorities in Guatemala (€77m)

  • Supporting good governance, strengthening modernisation of the state and human rights in order to encourage and stabilise the peace process (€16m). The main objective of co-operation with Guatemala is to improve conditions for the fulfilment of the Peace Accords by boosting civil society and promoting respect for human rights.

  • To reduce the structural causes of poverty and exclusion in the poorest areas of the country (€40m). Strengthening the legal and administrative framework of local government and investing in local infrastructure, in particularly health, education and water management.

  • Creating the necessary resources for the development of the country, through fair and sustainable economic growth and increased employment (€10m). Investing in the private sector, particularly micro and small enterprises in order to reduce promote greater integration with regional and international markets.

  • €11m will be reserved for other activities identified once these programmes have been instigated.

Priorities in Honduras (€131m)

  • Management of natural resources (€59m): support for integrated and sustainable management of important river basins in Honduras, in collaboration with civil society and local and national authorities.

  • Strengthening educational reform (€28m): Reform of the education system to tackle the high drop out rate between the primary and secondary levels, in collaboration with civil society and the government of Honduras as part of its programme to reduce poverty.

  • Supporting de-centralised municipal services (€34m): helping municipalities manage the growing number of services under their control.

  • €10m will be reserved for other activities in these areas that may be identified once the strategy has been put into place.

Priorities in Nicaragua (€176.5m)

  • Strengthening the politics of local development, especially in agriculture (€98m): assisting local government and civil society to stimulate rural development in the poorest regions of the country.

  • Invest in human development, particularly education (€40m)

  • Strengthening good governance and consolidating democracy (€17m)

  • €16.5m is reserved for other activities identified during the implementation of the strategy.


The European Union has strong bilateral relations with Mexico established under an economic, political and co-operation agreement which entered into force in October 2000. The Commission's Country Strategy Paper is designed to maximise the benefits for Mexico under that agreement. €56.2m has been agreed to implement the following areas for EU action:

  • Consolidate the rule of law and to reinforce the modernisation of the judicial system.

  • Strengthen social development, reduce inequality and build productive capacity especially in the poorer southern and south-eastern regions of the country.

  • Encourage economic growth by strengthening relations between Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the Member States and Mexico. Provide technical assistance towards the establishment of a Free Trade Agreement.

  • Scientific and technical co-operation, in particular joint EU-Mexico projects.

Background Information

The projects envisaged under the Country Strategy Papers are in addition to other programmes already operating in the region, for example ALFA, AL-INVEST, ALBAN, @Lis, and URB-AL. The European Union has also contributed substantially to the Regional Programme for Reconstruction of Central America (budget €250m for the period 2001-2006) which finances projects aimed at the rehabilitation and extension of social infrastructure in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador in the zones affected by Hurricane Mitch.

Country Strategy Papers were introduced in 2001 as part of a wider programme of Commission reforms in the field of External Assistance. Their purpose is to improve the coherence of the policy toward third countries, particularly, to ensure a match between political priorities and spending on development assistance. CSPs are developed in collaboration with national governments, Member States, other donors, and where possible, with representatives of civil society.

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