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.
Colombia would in principle no longer receive bilateral financial assistance from the EU after 2017, following the implementation of the current package of €67 million funded under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) (due to its status as an upper middle income country). Until then, 2 focal sectors have been identified:
- local economic development and institutional strengthening (€53.6 million)
- sustainable trade and investment (€10 million)
The (EUTF) EU-Colombia Trust Fund (€96.4 million) focuses on supporting the implementation of the peace agreement, with the emphasis on integrated rural development in the poorest and most conflict-affected areas and on reintegration of the ex-combatants. Contracts under the EUTF can be signed until December 2020.
Colombia benefits from the Regional Cooperation Programmes for Latin America (LA). With €805 million foreseen for the Multi-annual Indicative programme (MIP) for 2014-2020, the amount has increased substantially compared to the preceding period. Priorities of the MIP are the security-development nexus; good governance, accountability and social equity; inclusive and sustainable growth; environmental sustainability and climate change; and higher education via Erasmus+ 2014-2020.
The Latin American Investment Facility (LAIF) supports 4 bilateral projects in Colombia: ‘Integrated water resources management’ (global amount €142.5 million; EU €4.5 million) and ‘Towards a sustainable development of cities and regions’ with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) (€212 million/€5 million). ’Climate-smart rural landscape’ with AFD (global amount €433 million, EU €7 million) and ’support to Findeter’ with AFD (global amount €150 million, EU: €10 million). The European Investment Bank is preparing a €100 million credit line to Bancoldex.
EU post conflict support: The EU is committed to supporting the Colombian peace agreement between the government and the FARC, the larger of Colombia's 2 main guerrilla groups, signed in November 2016. The EU Trust Fund for Colombia, including contributions from 19 EU member countries, was launched in December 2016. The total amount of the EU Trust Fund is currently €96.4 million.