On 23/06/2010 the European Commission together with the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international donors welcomed Mauritania's renewed commitments for good governance and reconfirmed support to resume development cooperation, which was frozen in 2008 after a military coup. The international community has pledged a potential commitment of more than €2,5 billion (around $3,2 billion).
The two day Round Table discussion was organised by the European Commission and the Government of Mauritania. It was the first opportunity since the return to constitutional order, to discuss the country's strategic plans, geopolitical situation, progress to improve governance and reforms in various sectors, such as public finances, transport, energy, education and private investment.
The European Council closed consultation on Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement and co-operation with Mauritania was fully restored on 25 January 2010. The National Indicative Programme for Mauritania, which was adopted before the coup d’état of August 2008, will be implemented and possibly adjusted on the basis of the priorities of the new government and an analysis of effectiveness and needs. Under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), €156 million are available until end 2013 for activities in the areas identified in decentralisation and governance (€ 47m), infrastructure (€ 56m), possible general budget support (€ 40m), and other activities including in the area of management of migration flows (€ 13m).
The Round Table discussions were attended by the Prime Minister of Mauritania, Mr. Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf along with several Ministers. Other participants included Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of Spain and participants from International Organisations and civil society.
Mauritania-EU relations are framed within several partnerships. The Revised Cotonou agreement is the main framework for the EU's relations with ACP states. The Country Strategy Paper 2008-2013 defines the main different sectors of co-operation under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). While not being a full member of the Economic Community of Western Africa (ECOWAS), Mauritania is nevertheless part of the Regional Strategy of the European Union. Since 2007, Maurtiania is also a member of the "Union pour la Méditerannée".
Following the 2008 coup, Mauritania had been put under the procedure of Article 96 of the Cotonou agreement. This implies that all European Development Aid towards Mauritania (except humanitarian aid and direct support to the population) was frozen. After consultations with the EU, the definition and implementation of a consensual agreement between the Mauritanian parties leading to a return to constitutional order, the European Council decided to close Article 96 consultations and co-operation was gradually restored from the end of 2009 onwards. The co-operation was fully restored by a Council Decision of 25 January 2010.
The 10th European Development Fund foresees an amount of € 156 million for Mauritania. Some examples of actions include:
- The European Union is an important partner in contributing to the improvement of governance. € 47 Million of the 10th EDF are dedicated to this goal, with particular support to decentralisation, local development, modernisation of the administration, justice and civil society.
- Removal of sunken ships in Nouadhibou bay. This € 26 Million project aims at improving safety and industrial activities in the bay.
- Construction of the Kaédi-M’Bout-Selibaby-Gouraye road. This project aims at constructing a paved road of 312 kilometres, and will allow greater access to and from the regions in the South, until present suffering from isolation from production centres. The EU contribution to this project amounts to € 62 million.
- The EU is a partner in a project to improve the living conditions in the rural region of the Afetout. The project, with funding of € 79,000 will raise the socio-economic level in the region, provide better water access to more than 4,000 people and improve food security for more than 200 families.
The EU and Mauritania have strong economic ties in the fisheries sector as well. In 2006 a Fisheries Partnership Agreement was signed covering the period 2006-2012 with a financial contribution amounting to €305 million. The agreement provides financial and technical support to develop the national fishing industry on a sustainable basis in return for fishing rights for EU vessels. This is the most important fisheries agreement for the EU, both in the financial and economical sense.