EU-Zimbabwe relations: Now on the mend, soon on the go?

Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe. Are Zimbabwe and the European Union finally ready to resume normalized relations? Photo by: Gregg Carlstrom / CC BY-NC

After more than a decade of tensions and sanctions, ties between Zimbabwe and the European Union —  the country’s second-largest donor — are now in a final sprint toward normalized relations.

While Western donors continue to channel funds to multilateral institutions and nongovernmental organizations on the ground, the EU is on course to become the first donor to resume direct aid to the Zimbabwean government. This follows the recent expiration, at the start of the month, of the aid restrictions it had imposed against its African partner more than 12 years ago.

Few will deny that such unprecedented re-engagement represents a promising step for the future of Zimbabwe, which is reeling under the weight of massive public debt. But it also points to the significant amount of efforts that have yet to be made if the southern African country is to finally engage on the path of stability and inclusive growth.

A shift in approach

EU-Zimbabwe relations fall under the Cotonou Agreement, a treaty governing foreign policy, trade and development cooperation ties between the EU and 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

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About the author

  • Devos manola

    Manola De Vos

    Manola De Vos is a development analyst for Devex. Based in Manila, she contributes to the Development Insider and Money Matters newsletters. Prior to joining Devex, Manola worked in conflict analysis and political affairs for the United Nations, International Crisis Group and the European Union.