EU to focus on education

Kathmandu, May 8 :

European Union (EU) is likely to devote most of its financial assistance to Nepal on the education sector from next year onwards.

Eduardo Lechuga Jimenez, Charge D’affaires a.i., delegation of the European Commission to Nepal also hinted at an improved financial assistance outlay for Nepal, if ‘the political situation permits’.

He told The Himalayan Times that even as EU prepares its global plans for 2007-2013, it is likely to lay greater emphasis on education in Nepal, as it is the basis of all empowerment and growth.

Jimenez, however, hastened to add that this would not mean the end of EU efforts to deal

with on-going issues of poverty alleviation, human rights and conflict resolution in Nepal.

Significantly, EU has not funded any new projects since February 1, 2005 in Nepal, although it has been working according to a four-year long comprehensive plan for 2002-2006.

EU had earmarked $80 million for spending in Nepal during this period.

This means, at an average, for the 14 and half months since February 1 2005, Nepal has not received close to $24 million in financial assistance from EU. During this period, EU however continued to support its on-going projects.

Talking about the future, Jimenez sounds upbeat about the forthcoming country strategy paper 2007-2013, under which a new emphasis is likely to be laid on ‘economic cooperation’ with greater ‘private sector participation’.

Jimenez points to economic cooperation that has not only been the very basis of the union between 25 divergent nations in Europe, but the source of greater wealth generation.

In the wake of Nepal’s accession to the World Trade Organisaion (WTO), another body that depends on economic cooperation for achieving growth and prosperity, Nepal has but little

option to opt for economic cooperation as an engine of growth.

This is where Jimenez sees a much greater role for the European Union.

The EU can share its experience and lend its expertise to Nepal in strengthening its private sector and forge stronger bridges of economic


Talking about the ties between Nepal and EU, he refers to the treaty signed between the two in 1998 valid for a period of 10 years, at the end of which it is meant to be negotiated once again. “As far as I am concerned, it is a fine document and can be continued with. There is really no need to re-negotiate it,” feels Jimenez.

Indeed, the document has helped EU to continue to extend its support to Nepal well over the last eight years.

Today EU is one of the largest donors in the world. It makes up for close to 56 per cent of all aid extended globally. Although, currently most of EU aid flows towards Africa, one of poorest regions of the world, Jimenez feels that there is a strong likelihood that more resources would be directed towards Nepal now that democracy has found better footing here.