South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, and with it came ambitious plans to build the foundations of the world's newest state. The EU rallied behind the country's state- and nation-building efforts through significant diplomatic, political, humanitarian and developmental support. However, development plans were put on hold following the breakout of conflict in 2013, which saw South Sudan descend into widespread violence and chaos. The signature of a peace agreement in August 2015 and its implementation offer the prospect of resuming development cooperation.
Between 2010 and 2011, the European Union allocated to South Sudan a package of €285 million from the European Development Fund to cope with the immense needs of state- and capacity-building, and to contribute to fighting poverty, empowering local communities and delivering early peace dividends to the population. EU development support focuses on agriculture and food security (to enhance the productivity of small farmers, strengthen markets and value chains, and construct rural roads), basic services delivery (primarily health and education), justice and reconciliation, and on public financial management to improve local governance and promote a culture of transparency and accountability.
In South Sudan, the EU follows a joint approach with EU Member States concerning implementation. For example, in the sector of health the EU has worked together with the UK Department for International Development on a project to increase access to health services. Since 2012, this project has increased the number of outpatient consultations of children under the age of five from 770 000 to 1.9 million, and has increased the percentage of one year olds vaccinated with a third dose of the DPT vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) from 11% to 56%.
In December 2013, disputes between the political leadership led to violent conflict across the country. South Sudan consequently suffered a grave humanitarian crisis, human rights violations and economic deterioration, as well as large numbers of displaced people, including to neighbouring countries. Following long peace negotiations, an Agreement on the resolution of the conflict was signed by the South Sudanese parties in August 2015. However, the situation remains very fragile. As a witness to the peace agreement, the EU is fully committed to facilitating its implementation
Under the new EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, €77.6 million have already been dedicated to support the basic needs of people affected by the conflict in the areas of health, education and local governance, following the signature of the peace agreement in August 2015.
South Sudan also benefits from other actions under the EU Emergency Trust Fund, including creating the conditions for displaced South Sudanese to return to their homes. Other EU instruments such as the African Peace Facility also support the peace agreement, in particular regarding security arrangements and the monitoring of the ceasefire.
The EU is actively encouraging South Sudan to accede to the Cotonou Agreement, in order to create a more predictable and long-term partnership with the EU and its Member States.
South Sudan is also a beneficiary of EU Humanitarian aid funding, as well as from the EU’s Food Security and Non-State Actors Programmes, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.