Vietnam is a fast growing lower middle-income country with a population of around 95 million and a market-oriented socialist economy. It is among the fastest growing economies in ASEAN and a strong regional player. Living standards have improved quickly in the last three decades, and poverty now affects less than 10% of the population. But despite progress, a deep urban–rural divide persists: over 70% of Vietnam’s poor are from ethnic minorities.
In Vietnam, Official Development Assistance has made a substantial contribution to the national development agenda, helping to meet the costs of this country’s economic transition, the expansion of its infrastructure, the development of public health and education systems, and ambitious programmes to fight poverty and inequality. Vietnam is now entering a new phase of its national development, and the country has set out to become a modern and industrialised country by 2020.
In a context of increased disengagement and gradual phasing out of several traditional European grant donors over the coming years, the EU is playing an important role in supporting Vietnam to address its remaining development challenges.
The two focal sectors of EU-Vietnam cooperation for the period of 2014-2020 are Sustainable energy as well as governance and rule of law.
- 395 health centres
With the support of development partners and notably the EU, the Vietnamese authorities have achieved substantial results, particularly in the poorest provinces. EU budget support contributed to the construction or renovation of municipal health centres in the most disadvantaged communes of poorest districts in 36 provinces of Vietnam
- 97% of children immunised
The proportion of fully immunised children under 1 year of age exceeded 97%, well above the target of 90%, thanks to EU budget support
- 88.1% health insurance coverage
With the support of development partners and notably the EU, the government has worked hard to expand the coverage of health insurance and improve the benefits package and the
quality of services, especially at grassroots level. Thanks to EU support, health insurance coverage has shifted from 57.3% in 2009 to 88.1% in 2018.
- Control hospital over-crowding
The EU assisted directly in the implementation of the Government action program to fight "hospital over-crowding". According to statistics, 23 "nuclear" central hospitals and 127 "satellite" hospitals of 62 provinces of Vietnam (out of 63 provinces) have been upgraded in terms of infrastructure, equipment, technology transfer and trained professionals.
- Over 56,000 rural households connected to the national electricity grid
The EU supports the implementation of the national programme on electricity supply to rural, mountainous and islands areas through direct budget support to the State Budget of Vietnam. In addition, the EU strongly supports the development of sustainable off-grid electricity services in 26 provinces.
- Enabling environment for the establishment of a sustainable renewable energy market
Thanks to its technical cooperation and policy dialogue, the EU has significantly contributed to the development of the legal and technical frameworks to attract private investors in the renewable energy market.
- The EU promotes and supports the Vietnam Energy Partnership Group (VEPG) to improve coordination and policy dialogue between development partners and the Government of Vietnam on energy related issues. In November 2018, a set of 40 policy recommendations has been endorsed during the second VEPG high-level meeting.
- Access to legal advice
The EU, through its EU-JULE programme, provided technical guidance and training on effective response to gender-based violence, child abuse and sexual exploitation: 140 legal aid providers (including 73 women) and 104 prosecutorial officers (including 44 women) were trained on dealing with child sexual exploitation.
- A study on the possibility for Vietnam to accede to the second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) aiming at the abolition of death penalty was conducted and discussed during a workshop.
The EU contributes to making the energy sector more sustainable by:
- fostering private sector investment and “greening”
- increasing the share of renewable energies
- ensuring access for all to energy at affordable prices, especially for the poor and near poor
The rural electrification effort in Vietnam has been massive with the share of households with access to electricity growing from 2.5% in 1975 to 99% in 2018. However, a significant part of the rural population has only intermittent access to the national grid and still relies on biomass to meet its energy needs. The EU supports interventions aimed at increasing and securing access to electricity, with particular focus on poorer areas; itpromotes the increase of renewable energy, such as wind and solar in the energy mix and encourages energy efficiency.
EU cooperation also addresses governance and rule of law challenges, on both the demand-side and the supply-side, focusing on areas where the EU has a comparative advantage and where results have a greater potential impact on democracy and citizens’ rights, such as a business-enabling environment, enhanced accountability and transparency, and enabling the civil society and citizens’ participation.
EU support may also relate to areas such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as economic governance-related issues, specifically through a programme to support progress in public finance management playing a complementary role to the efforts to ensure good governance.