Since adopting a democratic political system in 1990, Benin has experienced peaceful political transitions. The country is relatively stable despite being situated in the fragile West African region where insecurity is on the increase in some neighbouring countries. The Benin government has launched ambitious structural reforms to improve governance and public finance management as well as stimulate economic transformation.
Cotton production is the main source of income for Benin's population and agriculture accounts for about 23% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Despite the country’s economic growth over the past 2 decades, poverty remains widespread. A lack of diversification is the main reason for Benin’s economic fragility. The country also faces challenges in boosting inclusive growth and providing work opportunities for its large and growing population of young people. Benin is considered a least developed country by the UN.
The European Union (EU) and Benin have built solid relations in the areas of political, economic, and commercial cooperation since 1960. Issues of common interest include human rights, democracy, the rule of law, good governance, security and stability, human development, sustainable growth, protection of the environment, and multilateralism. The new 2021-2027 EU programming is based on these fundamental values and is anchored in the following priority interests.
The three priority areas under EU cooperation are designed to address key challenges facing Benin.
Natural and human capital
EU support will combine actions aimed at both supporting valorisation initiatives in areas of high ecological value, and the development of the ecotourism sector.
EU action will also seek to ensure that the social protection system envisaged by the authorities is implemented in accordance with COVID-19 response plans and beyond, as Benin's development plan instructs, while ensuring that human development is positioned at the center of all national policies, strategies, and measures.
Green and digital economic growth
Priorities in this area will mainly focus on:
- Boosting employment in rural areas, particularly at the level of private actors, family farms, CSOs, and small and medium enterprises.
- Strengthening the capacities of young people through vocational training and developing digital tools focused on agroecology and the circular economy, as well as preserving and enhancing natural resources and biodiversity.
- Maintaining a sustainable food system and promoting the circular economy, able to ensure food security and provide a healthy, balanced diet and nutrition.
EU action in this area is also based on improving growth and the attractiveness of a sustainable port ecosystem.
Prosperous and safe society
In a context of budgetary pressure, where the gap between the financing of the measures of response to the crisis and the need for the recovery of the economy, it is important for the Government of Benin to continue to mobilize internal and external resources.
The EU plans to support Benin to develop its private sector, which is dependent on the establishment of a real consultation framework and structured and regular public-private dialogue, effective in the service of an environment conducive and incentive to private investments and local job creation.
The Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) for Benin for 2021-2024 amounts to €255 million.
Priority area 1: ‘’Natural and human capital’’ pursues efficient management measures and the enhancement of areas with high ecological value while improving the access of the poor and the extremely poor to social services and social protection and strengthening the potential of young people through an inclusive and responsive system. In addition, it aims at a strengthened social protection system, the implementation of the education and health policy, and the professional integration of young people.
Priority area 2: ‘’Green and digital economic growth’’ will promotepublic and private investments for VSMEs and CSOs, vocational training focusing on young people and women, and sustainable agriculture, conservation, and ecotourism. Furthermore, it will contribute to a functional, efficient, and transparent multi-stakeholder integrated digital platform, the protection, and restoration of key high-value ecosystems, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and the increase of private sector investments in sustainable energy.
Priority area 3: ‘’Prosperous and safe society’’will improvethe performance of the tax administration, at the national and local levels, ensure that budget transparency is strengthened, at national and local levels, increase sustainable inclusive economic growth and help createbetter access to quality infrastructure for the needs of businesses, trade, and investments. Finally, it will advance theimprovement of the legislative and regulatory framework related to digitization with support from the EU.
Beninese civil society has largely developed since the advent of democracy in Benin in the early 1990s and contributes to making up for the insufficiencies of the Beninese State, in particular in the field of services essential to the population. The European Union has and will continue to support civil society organizations; their anchoring, their structuring, and their recognition as an actor in democratic life.