The European Union has pledged assistance of up to €90 million per year for rural development, education, governance and peace-building in Burma from 2014 to 2020.
A press release by the EU on Thursday cited the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, as saying: “The development taking place in Myanmar [Burma] is unprecedented and to needs to be acknowledged. But we must not forget about the challenges ahead, for which the EU, as one of the main donors, will stand by with further support to continue the necessary reforms in the country. This will be done in coordination with EU Member States and other donors, and in harmony with the [Burmese] government’s own plans.”
The announcement came during a meeting of the EU-Myanmar Taskforce in Rangoon from 13-15 November, a conference that was joined by more than 400 participants including EU and Burmese government officials, as well as businesspeople.
President’s Office Minister Soe Thane said at the event that the Burmese government has been working on introducing a new democratic system while at the same time implementing public-focused development programmes. He urged EU member countries to continue their assistance to the country.
Aung Tun Thet, a presidential economic advisor, said discussions from the meeting will promote political and economic relations between Burma and the EU.
“The more international contact we have, the better it is for our country – especially with someone like the EU who we didn’t have relations with previously,” he said. “The EU can provide us with technology and financial support, both of which are beneficial for the reforms necessary in our country.
“We cannot just focus on either political or economic relation, we need to focus on both,” he said. “Previously, we had no political engagement with the EU and because we do now, the economic channel has been opened.”
Maung Maung Lay, vice-president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the meeting was the result of the reforms implemented in Burma.
“Burma had been long isolated by the international community and now we are being rewarded for the satisfactory changes implemented by civil society groups under the president’s supervision as they re-establish communications with us,” he said. “This event signifies the EU’s intention to keep Burma on track with its democratic reforms.”