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How Will Brexit Affect Laos?

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Although the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, the union’s development assistance to Laos will not change, an EU diplomat has confirmed.

EU Delegation Chargé d’Affaires Mr Michel Goffin clarified the union’s aid prospects when speaking to Vientiane Times during an annual meeting with the former EU Erasmus Plus scholarship recipients, which also bid farewell to 12 new awardees in Vientiane last Friday. 

“There will not be any change in EU development strategy for Laos until 2020 as it falls in our current programming period 2014-2020,” Mr Goffin said. 

“But after 2020 we will have to see what achievements we reach in terms of country development and then work closely with the government to determine where the needs are in order to decide our next assistance programme.” 

The EU said the aid programme for Laos over this period has already been allocated and will not be changed. 

In the meantime, the amount of the EU’s aid for least developed countries will not decrease even after 2020, given that the number of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) will decline. 

According to the EU Delegation in Vientiane, the union will cut aid to countries that are above the poverty line and shift it to the LDC countries. 

Despite the global economic slowdown, EU assistance to Laos continues to increase. The main bilateral programmes that are implemented in Laos aim to reduce poverty by supporting the government’s objective to graduate from LDC status by 2020. From 2007-2013, the funding provided by the EU amounted to more than 69 million euros. The current programming period of 2014-2020 has witnessed a substantial increase with a total amount of 207 million euros. In line with the 8th National Socio-economic Development Plan, Millennium Development Goals, and the recent Sustainable Development Goals, EU development cooperation mainly targets three key sectors – nutrition, education and governance – while maintaining its support to the areas of trade and private sector assistance, agriculture and rural development, health, environment and natural resources, and UXO assistance. 

The relations between Laos and the EU stretch beyond development assistance. Both sides are enjoying a more mature relationship on other levels such as political dialogue, in particular a genuine discourse on human rights every year. 

Laos and the EU have enjoyed a continuing and fruitful relationship since both sides signed the 1997 Cooperation Agreement. The signing paved the way f or the two sides to further consolidate their cooperation including areas related to trade and investment. 

Beyond the EU’s bilateral cooperation with Laos, Lao civil society organisations as well as international non-governmental actors play an important role and continue to receive support notably through regional and thematic programmes to ensure efficient service delivery and community participation throughout the country.

Source: Vientiane Times