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Bhutan has undergone massive changes in recent decades, with the development of an economy based largely on agriculture, forestry, hydroelectric power and an emerging tourism sector. It has also moved significantly towards democracy and has created an original development philosophy based on the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH). This seeks to balance spiritual and material advancement through sustainable and equitable economic growth and development; preservation and sustainable use of the environment; preservation and promotion of cultural heritage; and good governance.
EU Assistance programmes - 2007-2013
The main focus of the EU-Bhutan Strategy Paper 2007-2013 [262 KB] is the renewable natural resources sector. Good governance/democratisation and trade facilitation are also being supported. This will help strengthen Bhutan’s development policy and programmes for reducing rural poverty by creating income-generating activities at the rural level and improving farm-to-market access.
Funding of €8 million has been allocated through the multi-annual indicative programme for the period 2007-2010 to support renewable natural resources and good governance. A further €2 million is expected for the following three years (2011-2013) for trade-related assistance.
The EU-Bhutan Country Strategy Paper (2002-2006) [171 KB] allocated €15 million in assistance with priority given to renewable natural resources, especially livestock production and integrated pest management. Health and traditional medicine, trade development and export diversification were also supported.
Ongoing projects include:
- Wang Watershed management project (€9.2 million)
- Medicinal plants project (€4.2 million)
- Livestock sector support (€4.6 million)
- Agriculture sector support (€5 million)
- Trade capacity development project (€1.2 million)
In addition to this bilateral support, the country benefits from regional programmes particularly Asia-Link for higher education, active in the period 2002-2006. In 2007, the programme was replaced by Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Window.
As the assistance programme to Bhutan is relatively small, the Commission does not have an office in the country.
The External Relations Directorate-General is responsible for the EU's cooperation strategy for Bhutan.
The Delegation of the European Union to India, Bhutan and Nepal is responsible for actions in the country.