The main goal of the partnership between the European Union and Lebanon is to promote the development of Lebanon as a democratic, politically open and economically strong neighbour of the European Union. Today, the European Union - Lebanon Association Agreement , adopted in 2002 and entered into force on 1 April 2006, forms the legal basis for this partnership in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan for implementing the Association Agreement is based on the respect of democratic principles and fundamental human rights, providing a framework for political dialogue, co-operation in economic policy as well as a close co-operation in the social field and a better understanding amongst cultures.
Co-operation Programmes 2007-2013
The Country Strategy Paper for the period 2007-2013 , adopted in 2007 under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, provides the framework in which European Union's assistance will be made available to Lebanon over the period 2007-2013. The Country Strategy Paper aims at supporting Lebanon’s own programme of democratic, social and economic reforms and at assisting the country in the reconstruction process after the 2006 military conflict with Israel.
The European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument
The National Indicative Programme for 2011-2013 for Lebanon is based on a thorough review of the current Country Strategy Paper. The outcome of this review confirmed the validity of the strategic priorities for Lebanon until 2013. An envelope of €150 million is envisaged for the period 2011-2013 covering three main sectors of support:
- political reform,
- socio-economic reforms and
- reconstruction and recovery.
Lebanon is also eligible for funding in the framework of the European Union’s twinning initiative.
The European Union's bi-lateral co-operation with Lebanon under the National Indicative Programme for 2007-2010 carried a budget of €187 million and was structured around the support sectors mentionned above. Following the conflict with Israel during the summer of 2006, some re-allocations between the three sectors in the National Indicative Programme were introduced in order to better fit the needs after the conflict.
Other budget lines
Under the Instrument for Stability, there were two projects funded in 2007 and 2008:
- “Promoting political stabilisation and national reconciliation in Lebanon by strengthening the democratic legitimacy of its Parliament” of €4 million and
- “Support to the return and reintegration of Palestinian refugees displaced from Nahr el Bared camp” of €6.8 million.
The latter was complementary to the €8 million project to support the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared funded through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument in 2008.
The European Union also supported the Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon via various budget lines outside the bilateral budget for Lebanon. Projects in the following areas were implemented: water, sanitation, economic development, education and training, culture and health. Another focus area is rehabilitation and protection of the refugees. Support is given mainly through non-governmental organisations and United Nations Works and Relief Agency. A significant part of the assistance to the Palestinian refugees is managed by European Commission's Directorate-General for Humanitarian aid and Civil protection.
Co-operation until 2006
Following the aftermath of the 34 Day War between Israel and Lebanese militias in the summer of 2006, the European Union pledged more than €100 million under the 2006 budget to assist Lebanon with the recovery. €54 million were pledged for humanitarian assistance, €42 million for the short-term needs and €11 million for the evacuation of around 50,000 persons.
From 1995 to 2006, Lebanon benefitted from funds under the MEDA programme, amounting to more than €300 million in assistance from the European Union. The MEDA II programme focussed on implementing the Association Agreement, fostering jobs and growth, and reducing poverty. Projects were approved in the field of demining, assistance to South Lebanon, promotion of human rights, environment and culture.
European Investment Bank loans
Lebanon also benefited from long-term loans and risk capital facilities, provided and managed by the European Investment Bank. Among the areas supported by the European Investment Bank financing were road transport infrastructure projects and waste water projects. Environmental projects received support in the form og interest rate reduction from the European Union. Since 1992, a total amount of €723 million in the forms of European Investment Bank loans were signed with Lebanon.
For the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and EU policy towards Lebanon see the European External Action Service website.