The relations enjoyed between the EU and Sierra Leone have grown considerably over the last years. They are guided by the Cotonou Agreementbetween the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries signed in June 2000 in Benin. The EU is Sierra Leone's first trading partner and, together with EU Member States, its most important donor. The EU has been active in Sierra Leone since 1976.

The EU supports the political, social and economic development of Sierra Leone and its citizens. The main focus of our cooperation is to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty and to improve the livelihood of the citizens. The EU has programmed EUR 360 million in assistance for Sierra Leone for the current period (2008 to 2013) with our main instrument being the European Development Fund. The next cooperation programme covering 2014 to 2020 is under preparation. The principal focus of EU support to Sierra Leone is concentrated in the areas of agriculture, food security, environmental protection, education, economic reforms, institutional capacity building, good governance and infrastructure. European citizens continue to remain highly committed to supporting international cooperation and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The EU also works towards the respect for and promotion of human rights and the consolidation of democracy in Sierra Leone and holds a regular political dialogue with the state authorities, civil society and political parties. The EU also aims to promote the gradual integration of Sierra Leone into the world economy.

The European Union, comprising twenty-eight Member States, is a unique experiment in economic integration and political union based on the free will of Member States to pool their sovereignty and forge harmonized and common policies. It dates back to the declaration of the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, on 9 May 1950. Under the Treaty of Lisbon (2009) the EU established the European External Action Service (EEAS), which leads and orients international relations through its network of EU Delegations accredited to third countries and international organizations.

Thank you for your interest.

Peter Versteeg

Head of the EU Delegation to Sierra Leone