Government approves new strategy to strengthen democracy in cooperation with Eastern Europe for 2021–2027
Sweden has made a long-term commitment to support the countries in Eastern Europe in their efforts to strengthen democracy and for sustainable economic development. Swedish development assistance is a central part of this support and the Government has therefore approved a new strategy for reform cooperation with Eastern Europe for 2021–2027 with a total budget of approximately 600 million EUR.
Sweden is a long-term partner to the countries in Eastern Europe – Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan – in their efforts to strengthen democracy and for sustainable economic development. The Eastern Partnership – the eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy – offers the countries in the region comprehensive support and opportunities for enhanced cooperation with the EU. Swedish development assistance, or ‘reform cooperation’, is an important part of this offering. Reform cooperation is intended to support the countries’ own reform agendas with the aim of promoting sustainable and democratic development in the region. This includes development of institutions for a functioning market economy and stable states governed by the rule of law, and the growth of a strong civil society. Sweden is one of the largest bilateral donors to Eastern Europe and works with governments, regional and local authorities, and civil society stakeholders. Thesupport in 2022 will amount to approximately SEK 940 million.
Evaluation of the current strategy for support to Eastern Europe has helped guide development towards concrete results. However, the threat to democratic development in the region has increased due to the Russian aggression towards Ukraine, the increasing oppression in Belarus, the still unresolved prolonged conflicts and growing political tensions in a number of countries in the region. The ongoing global pandemic also places additional strain on societies that are already under pressure. In light of this, the Government’s assessment is that the work going forward needs to have an enhanced conflict perspective. Options for contributing to a green climate transition through increased access to renewable energy and phasing out of fossil activities in the region, and promotion of biodiversity and a circular economy, will also be investigated.
“Sweden plays an important role in the difficult process through which the countries in Eastern Europe are going on the path towards democracy and sustainable development. With our continued support to reforms in Eastern Europe, we also contribute to fighting poverty and increasing cooperation with Europe’s neighbourhood and, by extension, our own security and wellbeing,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation Matilda Ernkrans.