The European Union has been a partner of the Central African Republic for over 30 years and remains until today one of the country's main development partners. Since 2013, the European Union has contributed more than €500 million to assist the Central African Republic in responding to the cycle of insecurity, violence and political instability it was challenged with. In that respect, the European Union has mobilised all its available instruments in a comprehensive and integrated manner, including its first multi-donor Trust Fund "Bêkou" and traditional development aid, three military Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations, civilian crisis response and humanitarian aid. This was complemented with sustained political and diplomatic engagement with the Central African Republic authorities and international partners on all levels. Indeed, the European Union has been instrumental in contributing towards the stabilisation efforts in the Central African Republic.
Having successfully completed the political transition period after one of the worst conflicts in its history, the Central African Republic is today confronted with immense needs in all sectors in order to ensure reconciliation, reconstruction and a lasting peace. Together with the World Bank and the United Nations the European Union has led a joint needs assessment in Central African Republic. In agreement with the Central African Republic authorities this will form the basis for the international community to engage with political support and pledge additional resources to the country's efforts at the upcoming Brussels Conference on Central African Republic, on 17 November 2016.
EU humanitarian assistance
The European Commission, together with its Member States, is the largest provider of humanitarian and relief assistance to the Central African Republic, with support of over €259 million since 2014 to help those in need throughout the country. Humanitarian assistance from the European Commission to the Central African Republic for 2016 amounts to €21 million. This aid will benefit more than 553,000 people in need through different programmes covering the most urgent needs, such as enable free access to primary health care services, protection of civilians, water supply or food assistance.
Since the escalation of violence in December 2013, the Commission has committed €108.5 million in humanitarian aid (in addition to €28 million which have been allocated to cover the essential needs of Central African Republic refugees in neighbouring countries). The humanitarian assistance addresses the basic needs of refugees such as shelter, food, health, protection, water, sanitation and hygiene.
Development support and the Bêkou Trust Fund
Following the 2013 conflict in the Central African Republic, EU development funds channelled towards the Central African Republic amount to more than €200 million.
This comprises actions contributing towards food security and civil society organisations (€39 million); the restoration of basic social services in the area of education and health (€27 million); support for the 2015 electoral process (€20 million); as well as support for the preservation and consolidation of the state-state-building contract (€33 million + €40 million). Through these actions, the EU has supported over 300 schools, improved healthcare access for the most vulnerable and reinforced state capacities. Moreover, the successful holding of free, fair and credible elections was made possible thanks to EU funding.
Currently, funding is being prepared for a new National Indicative Programme (NIP) for the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and which will outline the EU's development support towards the Central African Republic until 2020.
The Bêkou Trust Fund, the first trust fund created by the EU, was established to enable the European Union to provide support in complex crisis situations and impacted the lives of 1 million people in its first year of activities. Its total current amount is €136 million, with €106 million from the EU, €5 million from France, €15 million from Germany, €3 million from the Netherlands, €1 million from Italy, and CHF 1 million from Switzerland. During the transition phase the main focus of Bêkou was Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD) actions in support to community resilience and local capacity building. Currently, the expansion of the fields of action of Bêkou is being discussed, in line with the strategy of the joint needs assessment.
Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)
In response to the request of the authorities of the Central African Republic to the EU to provide operational training for the Central African Republic's armed forces, the Council launched the military EU Training Mission RCA (EUTM RCA) on 16 July 2016, with its first mandate will expire on 19 September 2018
EUTM RCA (strength 170 personnel) will support the FACA based on a three pillar approach: i) strategic advice on management of FACA resources and the implementation of defence sector reform, within the framework of the wider SSR process; ii) education for selected and vetted officers as well as non-commissioned officers; iii) operational training of two to three battalions until the end of its initial mandate using the train-the-trainer-process as much as possible.
EUTM RCA will perform its tasks in close coordination with the UN mission MINUSCA. Currently, a technical arrangement with MINUSCA on mutual support is being finalised. Georgia will contribute to EUTM RCA by providing a force protection element. Pending political approval, Serbia envisages participating in a medical role. The common funded budget allocated to EUTM RCA for 2016 is € 12.4 million.
EU crisis Response under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace
Since 2013, € 34 million have been mobilised under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) to strengthen the fragile state during the transition period and to contribute to the peaceful coexistence of central African communities in Bangui and in the provinces.
Specifically, state presence has been strengthened through direct support to the transitional government to lead a process of political dialogue and through the re-establishment and reinforcement of police and gendarmerie capacity. Regarding support to the DDR process, the IcSP is currently contributing to integration of mixed communities, including returning ex-combatants, through revenue creation and socio-cultural activities in Bangui, Boda, Bambari, Kaga-Bandoro, and Ndele (at a total of € 14.8 million). Moreover, ongoing IcSP support to political dialogue at the national level includes support to the newly elected government with regard to consultations of, and negotiations with armed groups, an important element contributing to the ability of the new government to lead on the future DDR process. IcSP support to the Ministry of Defence contributes to strengthening the ministry's capacity for providing civilian oversight over the military and is aiming to complement EUTM's efforts in support of a well-planned and implemented security sector reform.