The focus of cooperation with Yemen – a low-income country which currently ranks 154 out of 187 in the UN Human Development Index – is improving its governance and reducing poverty by stimulating economic growth and developing human capital. These goals will notably be supported by increasing the capacity of the state to deliver basic social services and offer social protection to its people and encouraging job creation through the expansion of the private sector.

The EU is backing the transition process, led by the newly elected President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government of national unity, following the Yemeni revolution of 2011 which challenged traditional power relationships and led to demands for a civil state based on rights and an end to corruption and nepotism.

 Cooperation on political and socio-economic fronts

South-West of the Arabian Peninsula, in terms of surface area, Yemen is the 50th largest country in the world (527,968 km²). Out of its 25 million population, 68% live in rural areas and 44% are under the age of 15. Although 50% are active in agriculture and two-thirds dependent on the sector for their livelihood, agriculture currently accounts for 11% of the country's GDP. Yemen's formal economy is mainly based on fossil fuels – a depleting resource – and some industry, although an estimated 90% of its economy and employment are informal. Despite a relatively small donor community – the main EU donors being the EU, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands – several other European countries have just opened a presence in the country in the wake of the 2011 events in the capital Sana'a, or have committed some aid, even if limited to humanitarian support.

Since the country's unification, the EU has committed about €300 million to Yemen, the majority of which has been spent on projects relating to food aid and food security (€101 million) and economic development (€ 84 million). The current focus of cooperation enshrined in the EU's Country Strategy Paper 2007-13 is on assisting the Yemeni government on both political and socio-economic fronts using various EU funding instruments:

  • the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) for bilateral geographic cooperation – in the form of successive multi-annual indicative programmes (MIP) – and thematic envelopes, of which the most important is the food security thematic programme;
  • the Instrument for Stability (IfS), both short-term and long-term;
  • the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), supporting a range of projects on human rights (fighting the death penalty, addressing prison conditions, women's rights, trafficking of children, to name just a few areas);
  • the ERASMUS programme, allowing some 15 to 20 Yemeni students each year to study in Europe fully funded at university, master or PhD degree level.



MIP 2011-13

€ Mil





State building and governance




18 M



Social sectors







Social Welfare







10 M





Economic development and Livelihoods







Livelihoods and nutrition enhancement







€71 Mil

€20 Mil

€18 Mil

€33 Mil


The former MIP (2007-10) provided some €160 million in financial assistance to the country under both bilateral and thematic envelopes, including humanitarian aid.

Cooperation since 1978

Cooperation between the European Commission and Yemen began in 1978. Relations were formalised in 1984 through a development cooperation agreement with North Yemen, which was extended five years after unification in 1990 to cover the entire country. In July 1988, a strengthened cooperation agreement focusing on commercial, development and economic issues came into force – the basis for a long-term contractual commitment between the Commission and Yemen. Yemen also benefits from duty- and quota- free access to the EU market for all products originating in the country, except arms. In 2004, the launch of political dialogue and adoption of the EU-Yemen joint declaration broadened relations with the country by targeting stability, security and good governance and development in an integrated way. In the same year, the European Council adopted the Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and Middle East, which seeks to engage with countries in the region to further political and economic reform process.

At a donors' conference organised in Riyadh 3-4 September 2012, the EU pledged over €170 million for 2012-13 with programmes addressing the transition priorities set out by the newly-elected government for national unity.

Key country statistics

  • Total population (2015): 26 832 000
  • Life expectancy (at birth) (2015): 62 years (male), 65 years (female)
  • Human Development Index - Low human development (2014): 0.498
  • Income share held by lowest 40% of income distribution (2005): 19.6%
  • Lower middle income country - Gross National Income per capita (2005): 738 US$ (constant 2005 US$)
  • Average Gross Domestic Product growth over 5 years (2004-2008): 3.9%

Selected results achieved with EU support through projects and programmes completed between mid-2014 and mid-2015

Good Governance and Human Rights

  • 1 000 staff members of the supreme committee of elections and referenda were trained in the administration of elections.
  • 150 participants from civil society organisations were trained to enhance their capability to conduct election monitoring.
  • Senior management (heads of department and their deputies) of the House of Representatives were trained in leadership skills
  • 4 training modules have been delivered to the House of Representatives providing advanced legislative training (legislative drafting, parliamentary research methods, legislative and oversight report writing, methods and mechanisms of oversight).
  • A new child rights law was drafted to improve the child rights component within national legislation (approval pending).
  • 50 youths sentenced to death -and believed to have been minors below 18 years when they committed their offence- have received support for clemency, a fair trial and access to legal support.
  • 380 judges and prosecutors were trained in child rights and child rights sensitive procedures.
  • 840 youths (310 female and 530 male) who have been victims of violence and/or in conflict with the law have received legal support (290 victims of violence and in conflict with the law and 550 youths in conflict with the law.
  • 300 (18 women and 282 men) police officers and other public servants were trained in various areas such as explosive devices, crisis management, police management, counter-terrorism, narcotics, corruption, crime scene investigation and forensics, road accidents, protection of public places and cybercrime and civil defence.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment

  • 60 politically active women were trained to raise their political promotion skills and 16 female journalists were trained in advocating women's political participation.


News & Events