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Significant new EU development assistance foreseen for Central America

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6a00d8341d945753ef017c317ffeb6970b-800wiSupporting security and the rule of law, disaster management and the fight against climate change, will be among the priorities for EU Development Assistance in the period 2014-2020. EU funds will be made available to that end, as well as to improve regional integration across Central America, as announced by European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

Speaking ahead of an official visit to the region, during which the Commissioner will visit Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, he outlined that support for 2014-2020 to Central America is expected to be around €900 million. Subject to final approval by the Council and European Parliament, the new funds would include bilateral cooperation with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as regional cooperation (which also includes Costa Rica and Panama).

Commissioner Piebalgs said: "Central America is now on average a medium-low income region, but there are still real differences amongst the different countries. In line with the recent Agenda for Change - the EU’s blueprint to refocus our aid to make it as effective as possible - we are determined to make sure our support reaches those countries, and sectors, which need it most. This way we are ensuring that our aid to the region will be better targeted and more efficient."

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In Nicaragua, for example, the poorest country in Central America, 46% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, while in Costa Rica and Panama the percentage of people living in poverty is 24% and 29%, respectively.

During his visit, which takes place from 4th-10th October, Commissioner Piebalgs is expected to meet Presidents Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Mauricio Funes of El Salvador, and ministers and representatives from civil society, as well as visiting projects in the field.

Besides the support it provides to each country bilaterally, the EU is the leading donor to the Central America Integration System and its institutions, committing €95 million since 2007. This support has been concentrated in three areas: regional integration, customs union and common policies, and regional governance and security.

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Background

The Central American region has established a comprehensive relationship with the EU, which includes political dialogue, cooperation and a favourable trade regime. An Association Agreement between the EU and Central America was signed in 2012. The agreement's trade part is provisionally applied with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Provisional application will soon be extended to cover Guatemala.

The main recipients of regional projects' support are the institutions of the Central American Integrations System (SICA). SICA was set up to promote Central America's integration, with an emphasis on democracy, respect for human rights, and the establishment of equitable development for the people of Central America.

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Kazakh president sets out five priorities for #Kazakhstan’s 'Third Stage of Modernization' 

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In his annual address to the nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, announced five main priorities as part of what he described as “Kazakhstan’s third stage of modernization”. The priorities are aimed at ensuring economic growth and supporting the country to become one of the top 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050.

The five priorities are: Acceleration of technological modernization of the economy, improved business environment, macroeconomic stability, improved quality of human capital and institutional reforms, including improved security and more action to tackle corruption.

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President Nazarbayev said in his annual address: “I am setting the task of ensuring the implementation of the Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan. It is necessary to create a new model of economic growth that will ensure the country's global competitiveness.”

He added: “This modernization is not a plan to combat current global challenges, but a reliable bridge to the future, to meet the objectives of Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy. It will be carried out on the basis of the 100 Concrete Steps Plan of the Nation.”

The Head of State also instructed the Government to developa package of measures for the technological re-equipment of basic industries by 2025.

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The annual address followed a special announcement given by the President last week, in which he set out bold plansto increase the powers of parliament. President Nazarbayev stated that these constitutional reforms are aimed at furthering the democratic development of Kazakhstan, as the Government will be accountable to parliament.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev has proposed a constitutional reform aimed at furthering the democratic development of Kazakhstan. During a special televised address to the nation on 25 January, the President announced a number of functions that would be transferred either to the Government or Parliament. Public discussions on the proposed constitutional reforms will take place for the next month, concluding on 26 February. After this, the reforms will be presented to Parliament.