Thailand is a lower-middle-income country that enjoys strong economic growth despite the setbacks of, for example, the 1997 financial crisis and the 2004 tsunami. It has made remarkable progress in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for poverty, hunger, gender, HIV/AIDS and malaria well ahead of schedule, and is now envisaging the achievement of a set of more ambitious targets called MDG Plus. The European Union’s relations with Thailand have changed over the years from a traditional donor-recipient relationship towards a true partnership for development. The European Commission is developing a role as a facilitator of knowledge sharing and a partner for policy dialogue on key sectoral issues.
EU Aid programmes 2007-2013
The EU-Thailand Strategy Paper (2007-2013) emphasises economic relations, scientific and technological cooperation and education. Capacity constraints crucial to advancing Thailand's national development agenda, collaboration in the fight against organised crime and terrorism, good governance, and human rights will all be addressed. The multi-annual indicative programme for 2007 to 2010, which sets out how spending on the themes identified in the country strategy will take place, allocates €8 million to support these areas.
A new approach has been taken to cooperation the latest EU-Thailand cooperation strategy, which stresses two crucial areas: cooperation facilities for technical assistance and higher education. The cooperation facility relates especially to economic development, such as reforms, trade and investment, customs, free trade agreement, and support for meeting mandatory and voluntary market requirements (environmental regulations, industrial standards, consumer protection, customs, genetically modified organisms, labelling, etc.), which may affect bilateral trade relations. Funding for higher education through a special allocation from the EU Erasmus Mundus programme provides grants to students to study in the EU.
Regional and thematic programmes are also available to provide grant support to relevant organisations in Thailand.
EU-Thailand cooperation for the period 2002-2006 was allocated €10 million to focus on two main priorities:
- Technical assistance and capacity-building activities in the sectors of trade, investment and related areas for sustained cooperation
- Public health and health services through the consolidation of previous assistance to the health reform process.
In 2005, the Thailand Economic Cooperation Small Project Facility (SPF) was created. This funded some 40 projects and activities. Involving a wide range of local partners, the initiative made a considerable contribution in a number of important trade and investment-related areas, ranging from food safety to solar energy.
For 2005-2006, €3.2 million was allocated to a single priority sector: cooperation on higher education through the Erasmus Mundus programme.
Ongoing projects include:
- Bilateral cooperation: three projects in the sectors of public health, environment/ natural resources, and economic cooperation, for a total of €18 million
- ASEAN cooperation: 24 projects in the sectors of higher education, intellectual property rights and standards, energy, environment, economic cooperation, for a total of €58.31 million.
- Asia cooperation: 51 projects in the sectors of higher education, trade and investment, environment, information technology and communication, for a total of €13.67 million.
- Asia-Europe Meeting cooperation: two projects in the sector of financial and social sector reform, for a total of €6.23 million.
- Horizontal (non-governmental organisations) budget-lines/programmes: five projects in the sectors of health and the environment, for a total of €24.23 million
- Support to uprooted populations from neighbouring countries to Thailand and humanitarian assistance: 14 projects, for a total of €19.11 million.
It should be noted that organisations working in Thailand have benefited well in the past from the Asia-wide Programmes and have been involved in a total of 75 projects.
The European External Action Serviceis responsible for drawing up the EU-Thailand cooperation strategy.
More details on the projects and programmes can be found on the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand.