MONROVIA: True friendship, whether familial, political or diplomatic finds expression not in rhetoric and mere words but in deeds and concrete actions. Liberia, in its 179 years of existence, made friends, and in fact is still making friends. But only a few would boast of, and can be boasted for, a rewarding relationship throughout this period. Amongst the few is the European Union which, during all of the social and economic turbulences that Liberia has endured, including civil war, Ebola, Covid-19, amongst others, has stood tall and strong by the side of the country. This month the relationship which has grown to nobler heights has hit half of a century, leaving behind huge trails of mutual benefits and particularly for Liberia. The current head of mission of the European Union, has been paying tribute, a well deserving tribute, to the 50 years of progress, peace, stability and development associated with the EU-Liberia ties. In an Op-Ed shared with The Analyst, Ambassador Nona Deprez reflects on the five decades of a noble relationship subsisting between the EU and her country. See full text of the Op-Ed below.
EU and Liberia: 50 Years of Partnership for Peace and Development
Op-Ed by Ambassador Nona Deprez
This year marks a significant milestone as we celebrate five decades of fruitful relations between Liberia and the European Union (EU). Throughout this period, this relationship has laid the foundation for a dynamic partnership that has continuously adapted to address both parties’ evolving needs and priorities. Over 50 years, the EU has consistently stood by Liberia, providing support for peace, stability, and development, even during challenging periods such as the civil wars, the Ebola outbreak, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through various instruments and initiatives — from the European Development Fund (EDF) to the current NDICI-Global Europe, Global Gateway, and Team Europe — the EU,its Member States present in the country (Germany, Ireland, France and Sweden) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have been playing a pivotal role in assisting Liberia on its journey toward a more prosperous, inclusive, and resilient society. Our partnership exemplifies the power of effective collaboration, enabling us to shape our actions and influence the future based on shared goals and values. It rests on three essential pillars: political dialogue, development cooperation, and economic cooperation. These pillars are critical in advancing Liberia’s progress and in addressing its challenges.
The EU and Liberia engage in regular political discussions, fostering an exchange of views on crucial topics such as peace, security, democracy, human rights, sustainable development, regional integration, and multilateral cooperation. These discussions build trust and understanding and help forge a shared vision for the future. Moreover, they enable cooperation on pressing global challenges such as climate change, terrorism, and pandemics. These shared values are clearly exemplified by the principled stand for peace and international law that the EU and Liberia have taken after the unprovoked and unjustified Russian aggression against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories by the Russian Federation.
Sustainable development in Liberia has been significantly advanced by the EU-Liberia development cooperation, which has supported vital sectors, including energy, roads, agriculture, health, education, and governance. By prioritizing initiatives that promote renewable energy, food security, gender equality, vocational training, anti-corruption measures, and electoral support, the EU has significantly improved the quality of life and means of subsistence for millions of Liberians. Between 2014 and 2023, the EU’s contribution to Liberia amounted to approximately 432 million US dollars.
Economic cooperation forms a vital foundation for the partnership between the EU and Liberia. Through its efforts in promoting trade, investment, and private-sector development, the EU has significantly driven Liberia’s economic growth. The EU remains Liberia’s key trade and investment partner. By fostering a favourable business environment, improving infrastructure, and advocating for sustainable economic practices, the EU has created opportunities, empowered local entrepreneurs, and contributed to job creation in Liberia.
Our commitment lies in establishing sustainable and equitable trade relations with Liberia and the wider West Africa region. In parallel, Liberia benefits from a most generous EBA scheme (Everything But Arms), which removes tariffs and quotas for all imports of goods (except arms and ammunition), coming into the EU from least developed countries (LDCs).
As we celebrate the progress brought about by our 50 years of partnership, we must also acknowledge that more work needs to be done. The EU remains unwavering in its support for Liberia’s development, promoting good governance, and safeguarding human rights and democracy. We recognize that Liberia faces significant challenges relating to governance and accountability, as well as to poverty, social exclusion, environmental degradation and deforestation. Nevertheless, we firmly believe that addressing these challenges necessitates the collective efforts of all stakeholders, including the government, civil society, the private sector, and development partners. The EU will continue collaborating closely with all stakeholders to overcome these obstacles and build a prosperous future for all.
Ambassador-Head of Delegation of the European Union to Liberia