During the last years, Colombia achieved significant progress in reducing poverty, although social imbalances and gaps between urban and rural areas still exist. A weak State presence in some parts of the national territory - related to the large socio-economic disparities and the presence of illegal activities- constitute a factor of instability.
Moreover, Colombia still suffers from the domestic armed conflict with guerrilla groups and its ramifications with organised crime (notably in remote rural areas) which has been a major obstacle for development and security in the country. As an upper middle-income country, Colombia should in principle graduate from bilateral cooperation under the DCI. However in December 2013, the EP, EC and the Council decided to make an exception and continue EU cooperation with Colombia for a phase-out period 2014-2017.
EU cooperation 2014-2020
The aim of the 2014-2017 programming (€67 million) is to consolidate the achievements of ongoing past cooperation to help Colombian State to strengthen its presence in the peripheral regions and to overcome the legacy of the internal conflict. Fostering sustainable trade is also an objective for this period.
EU cooperation 2007-2013
For the 2007–2013 period (€163 million) the main focal sectors of EU cooperation were peace and stability, Rule of Law, justice and human rights and productivity, competitiveness and trade. With regards to peacebuilding, the EU has contributed to bringing positive outcomes such as curbing violence and conflict escalation in the conflict zones, strengthening the rule of law, recreating the social fabric and re-establishing mutual trust between local populations and authorities. The Peace Laboratories programmes have gained momentum and generated a wide network of local economic development agencies.
Colombia has a substantial portfolio of EU thematic projects totalling €35 million during the 2007-2013, mainly with a focus on human rights and environment. Colombia will remain eligible for EU thematic and regional cooperation even after the above-mentioned phase-out period.