El Salvador has made significant progress in reducing poverty through the implementation of social policies especially in the areas of health and education. However, the country still faces several social, economic and security related challenges. Over the last 15 years, El Salvador has experienced modest economic growth with low levels of productivity, employment creation and investment. Progress has been made on democracy and the human rights situation but the country's political system and state institutions remain fragile. El Salvador is signatory of the EU-Central America Association Agreement, a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU with a strong focus on development cooperation.
EU cooperation 2014-2020
For the period 2014-2020, the strategic objectives of the EU's cooperation with El Salvador are a continuation of those that have governed such activities in the country to date. Therefore EU support over the 2014–2020 period, with an allocation of €149 million, will be continue to be focused on youth and social inclusion and private sector development. In addition, El Salvador continues benefiting during 2014-2020 from the EU sub-regional programme for Central America (increased to €120 million). The focal sectors of cooperation for the sub-regional programme have been updated to better respond to the Association Agreement and the emerging needs of the region, namely security and impunity, climate change and private sector development as a vehicle for generating employment opportunities.
EU cooperation 2007-2013
An indicative allocation of €121 million was earmarked for El Salvador in the period 2007–2013 under the EU for Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) for three sectors of intervention, namely social cohesion and human security and economic growth, regional integration and trade. El Salvador has benefited during 2007-2013 from the EU regional programme for Central America (€95 million) in the areas of regional economic integration, security and rule of law and climate change and disaster management.
In El Salvador, the programme "Comunidades Solidarias" (PACSES), to which the EU provided €47 million, was set up by the Government to increase the provision of public services to the poorest and most vulnerable people. The programme is expected to reach over 13% of the total population (around 750 000 people), being women, children, young people at risk and the elderly the priority groups. Some expected results are that an additional 51% of people older than 70 will be covered by basic pension, 260 000 families will receive preventive medical care, 15 offices will be set up for the prevention of violence against women, 80% of population in the municipalities will be covered with access to drinking water and basic sanitation (13% increase in coverage) and 95% of the population will be provided with access to electricity (13% increase in coverage).
The EU also funded activities through EU thematic lines in the areas of human rights, food security and environment and co-finances projects with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). There are around 50 on-going EU thematic projects and the total portfolio amounts to €17.6 million.