Sri Lanka is largely a low-lying island, with mountains in the south-central part, and a population of 19 million. Its high population density has put great pressure on the environment. Land degradation, depletion of water resources, deterioration of coastal habitats, and pollution associated with urban and industrial activities have become acute environmental problems with a significant impact on economic and social conditions. It is progressing well towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals in the areas of universal primary-school enrolment, gender equality, and infant and maternal mortality. However, it has also suffered over 20 years of political turmoil and internal conflict and 23% of the population remains below the national poverty line. Those living in the northeast have suffered particularly from both the continuing wars and the tsunami of 2004. The ceasefire of 2002 was followed in 2003 by the Tokyo Donors Conference which helped to prepare the ground for intensified international cooperation by focusing on stability issues.
EU Aid programmes 2007-2013
The recent failure of peace talks and the current political situation make the framing of the new cooperation strategy for the future difficult. In the EU-Sri Lanka Country Strategy Paper (2007-2013) [480 KB] , a total of €112 million has been allocated to the country. It envisages several scenarios from the present, high-intensity conflict, to peace, or at least the full respect of a cease-fire agreement. If peace could be achieved, EU cooperation would concentrate on integrated district development in those areas most affected by poverty in the north and east of the country. In the current situation, support could be provided to conflict-affected people or for conflict mitigation, human rights, good governance and rule of law.
From 2002-2006 [301 KB] , a sum of €15 million was made available for cooperation projects and €3 million for trade and economic cooperation. A trade development project (€1.4 million), focusing on economic cooperation helped Sri Lanka to modernise its regulatory framework for trade and investment and to enhance the export potential of garments, gems and jewellery. The Small Projects Facility (€1.6 million) helped to develop business links and investment.
Additionally, €32 million were allocated for assistance to uprooted people, supporting the northeast housing reconstruction programme implemented by the World Bank.
Other activities have been financed through the Humanitarian Aid Office, thematic budget lines, such as Action Against Anti-Personnel Landmines, non-governmental organisation co-financing, or regional programmes, such as the Asia-wide programmes (covering business, higher education, environmental) or the EU-Sri Lanka Civil Aviation project.
The EU response to the tsunami of 26 December 2004 amounted to €95 million over a two-year period (2005-2006) for reconstruction. This followed the humanitarian assistance (€42 million) that started flowing to Sri Lanka from January 2005 and the €2.3 million provided under the Rapid Reaction Mechanism to launch the longer-term reconstruction work.
This reconstruction programme is based on a fair allocation of resources between the northeast and the south of the country and focuses on revitalising livelihoods in the north and east, rehabilitating the Matara-Batticaloa Road, and on community development in the Ampara District, which was most affected by the tsunami (livelihoods, roads rehabilitation, waste management and environment restoration). The failure of the Post-Tsunami Operation Management Structure after the Supreme Court ruled it illegal in November 2005, and the escalation of the conflict from December 2005, blockades on humanitarian access, increasing costs of the building materials, transport and manpower, all caused severe delays in the implementation of these programmes.
Other proposed projects were not implemented mainly as a result of a donors’ agreement that progress first had to be made with the peace process.
The European External Action Service is responsible for drawing up the EU-Cambodia cooperation strategy.
Information on ongoing programmes or projects can be found on the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka.