Fighting poverty and helping the country on its path towards inclusive and sustainable growth are the overarching aims of EU support to Pakistan. These goals will only be achieved if founded on political stability, social cohesion, the creation of productive and decent work opportunities, human and social development, the rule of law, and diversification of economic activity.
Pakistan's 150 million population has the highest growth rate in South Asia. Progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been slow – especially those relating to infant mortality, child malnutrition and primary school enrolment. Social sectors require more resources and major environmental problems include serious water shortages caused by demographic pressure, deforestation and degradation of rangelands. Social inequity and governance are further issues to be addressed. The economic growth of recent years appears to have had little impact on poverty, which affects over a third of the population. A country prone to natural disasters, the 2005 earthquake – followed by floods in 2010 and 2011 – caused widespread destruction.
The EU-Pakistan Country Cooperation Strategy (2007-2013) sets out two main priority areas:
Rural development and natural resources management – the main concern here is the deteriorating state of the environment and declining water resources. The objective is to improve livelihoods and spur income generation and employment in rural communities, including those with big refugee populations.
Education and human resources development – the aim is to increase access to basic education and improve vocational training to prepare the growing number of young people for the job market.
Further EU support goes to programmes in the areas of human rights, democratisation and trade development.
To address the above priorities, the EU-Pakistan bilateral programme allocated €200 million for the period 2007-2010 and around €213 million for the period 2011-2013.
EU programmes in Pakistan are aligned as far as possible to the strategies set out by the Pakistani government.
Pakistan also accesses EU thematic programmes – topics benefitting all partners – and Asia-wide programmes e.g. in the areas of human rights, civil society and environment.