Despite significant progress in reducing poverty, Colombia is still characterised by large imbalances in income and in access to social services. The gap between urban and rural areas in particular remains large, and is compounded by very unequal access to land in rural areas. The lack of State presence in some parts of the country (related to the large socio-economic disparities and the increase in illegal activities and related violence) is also a cause of instability. Helping the Colombian State strengthen its presence in peripheral regions is one of the main objectives of this EU support.
Another key priority for the EU is to assist Colombia in overcoming the legacy of the internal conflict between the government and guerrilla groups and its ramifications with organised crime (notably in remote rural areas), which has been a major obstacle to development and security in the country, as well as in the wider region.
EU cooperation in Colombia is based on an assessment of policy priorities for the period 2021-2027. The EU and its member states are long-time partners of Colombia, where peace and stability remain at the forefront of our common political interests. The same can be said for efforts to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change, protect the environment and promote green growth, in line with the principles underpinning the EU Green Deal and UNSG Guterres “Making peace with Nature”.
The priority areas are the following:
In 2016, a final agreement to end the armed conflict and build stable and lasting peace ended a 52-year-long conflict between Colombia and the FARC-EP guerrilla. The government is making efforts to fulfil the agreement, as well as to implement structural reforms, increase equality and inclusion of vulnerable people and create a more sustainable business environment for the private sector. International and Colombian civil society organisations have been key in monitoring and denouncing human rights violations during the conflict and after the Peace Agreement was signed.
As an Amazonian country and as the second most biodiverse country in the world, Colombia is a country of great relevance to the EU regarding the protection of biodiversity. The National Development Plan 2018-2022 committed Colombia to a sustainable model of development. The country ratified the Paris Agreement in 2017 and is committed to reducing its greenhouse gases by 51% by 2030. Like the EU, Colombia aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Currently, the sustainable use of biodiversity is the biggest environmental challenge in Colombia.
The Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) for Colombia for 2021-2024 amounts to €75 million.
Priority area 1: ‘Peace’ includes peace building, conflict prevention, reintegration of ex-combatants, and the removal of landmines. Furthermore, it promotes civil society in general; decentralization, anti-corruption, immigration, human rights, and ending violence against women and girls. Digitalisation, science and innovation will be mainstreamed through this priority area, both as a tool for boosting a productive system and to contribute to democracy, transparency and accountability.
Priority area 2: ‘Environment’ focuses on general protection of the environment, involving agriculture, forestry, and fishing, and includesenvironmental policies, biodiversity and environmental research, rural land policy, disaster risk reduction, as well as food safety and quality. Digitalization will be central to investments made under this priority area, as it will provide tools to close the gap between rural and urban Colombia. Science and innovation will also help accelerate the transition towards greener productive systems and the development of remote regions. The role of civil society and youth organizations will be key, as they have the capacity to spread the sustainable development model across rural communities.
Support measures in favour of civil society have been framed by the roadmap for EU engagement with civil society 2018-2020. A new roadmap has been prepared and launched in 2021. Dialogue with civil society is key in all the areas of action of Team Europe in Colombia. It contributes to a deeper understanding of the country, as well to the promotion of EU fundamental values.