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Burundi: EU closes consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou agreement

Council of the EU
  • 14/03/2016
  • 10:35
  • Press release
  • 115/16
  • Foreign affairs & international relations
14/03/2016
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Virginie Battu
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On 14 March 2016, the Council concluded consultations with Burundi under article 96 of the EU-ACP partnership agreement (Cotonou agreement). Commitments proposed by the Burundian government are insufficient to address the EU concerns. The EU has suspended direct financial support to the Burundian administration, including budget support, but is fully maintaining both its financial support to the population and its humanitarian assistance.

In its decision, the Council also set out specific measures to be taken by the Burundian government that could lead to the resumption of full cooperation.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said: " The situation in Burundi remains of serious concern for the EU, though we have seen recently some glimpses of hope. Today's decision makes clear that for our relations to be fully resumed we expect a number of concrete measures to be carried out. The action we are seeking is achievable with will and determination: it builds on measures and processes already set in motion by the African Union, the East African Community and the United Nations, and welcomed by the 5 African Heads of State mandated by the African Union.  In particular we believe it can support the inter-Burundian dialogue mediated by the East African Community which is key to finding a durable political solution to the crisis."

Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, added: "The EU is, and will remain, firmly committed to supporting the Burundian people in this crisis, which has already cost more than 400 lives, left thousands injured and forced over 240 000 people to take refuge in neighbouring countries. We reaffirm our full solidarity with the people of Burundi, who are the first victims of this crisis. We urge the government to show commitments needed to resume normalisation of our relationship with Burundi. Meanwhile, EU funded projects which aim to ensure access to basic services for the population, but without channelling financial resources through accounts held by the Government of Burundi, are being prepared and the EU remains committed to providing emergency assistance".

The Council's decision will be reviewed regularly, at least once every six months, including through  joint monitoring missions by the European External Action Service and the Commission.

Background

On 8 December 2015, consultations took place with the Burundian government under article 96 of the Cotonou agreement in order to examine these concerns and find ways to remedy them. The dialogue was held in the presence of representatives of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, the African Union, the East African Community, and the United Nations.

During the meeting, the parties discussed the necessary measures to ensure a swift return to compliance with democratic principles and values, human rights and the rule of law, on the basis of the Cotonou agreement and the principles set out in the Arusha agreements. Burundian government representatives proposed commitments. However, these have so far been judged unsatisfactory by the EU.

Article 96 provides the legal basis for the suspension of the Cotonou agreement, following a period of dialogue, in cases where one of the parties feels that the agreement's essential and fundamental elements are not being respected.