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International Partnerships


Despite being a lower middle-income country, Timor-Leste is one of the least developed economies in south-east Asia, ranking 133rd out of 187 countries in the 2015 Human Development Report.

Timor-Leste has one of the youngest populations in the Asia and Pacific region, with a median age of 17.4 years - 74% of the population are below the age of 35 years.

Thanks to significant oil and gas revenues since 2004 and substantial international support, the country has focused on consolidating security and stability, providing a foundation for nationhood through building state institutions, rebuilding and improving its infrastructure, and addressing the immediate needs of its people to alleviate poverty, including through large social transfers.

Our priorities

The EU and Timor-Leste have a long-standing partnership and cooperate in the country’s economic and development policies. The EU is the 2nd largest donor of development aid (grant funding) in Timor Leste, after Australia.

The EU is committed to support Timor Leste 2011-2030 Strategic Development plan, which aims to transform Timor-Leste into an upper-middle-income country by 2030 based on rapid, inclusive growth enabling it to improve infrastructure, worker skills, education, training and health systems, and combat poverty and malnutrition.

EU assistance focuses on good governance and rural development (see under “Our programmes”).

Our impact

  • Planting of 200,000 tree seedlings in Baucau, Manatuto, Viqueque and Lautem municipalities
    The large majority of tree seedlings were planted on private land by marginalised farmers, who will benefit in the long run from better employment opportunities in the agroforestry sector.

  • 90 km of roads rehabilitated and maintained to relevant standards

  • Approximately 450,000 worker days of paid work are available through the project; women, youth and people with disabilities are specifically targeted for inclusion.

Our programmes

European development aid to Timor-Leste is mainly funded via the European Development Fund (EDF). The current funding cycle for 2014-2020 amounts to €95 million and focuses on:

  • Good governance – through reforms of the public finance management system, as well as institutions ensuring checks and balances to enable an effective and transparent implementation and monitoring of development policies.

  • Rural development – with specific emphasis on rural access, skill development in rural areas in productive sectors (agricultural production and processing, road construction and maintenance), and on nutrition (with the aim of reducing food insecurity and malnutrition), to improve economic opportunities and the delivery of Government services.

  • Support measures – this includes activities aimed at supporting the programming, preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and visibility of EU-Timor-Leste cooperation, support to the National Authorising Officer to ensure effective management of the National Indicative Programme, and may also cover limited support to assist the country's accession to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and to strengthen the government's capacity to meet its ASEAN commitments.

We channel additional support to Timor-Leste through other EU initiatives, especially for:

  • democracy, civil society, and human rights support

  • gender equality and equity

  • environmental sustainability and climate change

Timor-Leste also benefits from actions under the EU Regional Programme for the Pacific (€166 million) which focuses on:

  • Regional economic integration - including strengthening the regional trade and business enabling environment, as well as increased participation of the private sector in economic integration

  • SustainabIe management of the environment, natural resources and waste – with due regard for the conservation of native biodiversity and climate change adaptation requirements

  • Inclusive and accountable governance and the respect of human rights – including promoting and protecting human rights for all and progress in gender equality and civil society engagement as well as strengthening regional organisations