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Europe Day 2024: What EU is for Nepal, what Nepal means for EU

The European Union has been in Nepal at all the critical junctures of the last decades: to support the Nepali peace process, to accompany the first democratic elections.

Every year on the 9th of May we celebrate Europe Day and the Schuman Declaration, a turning point in Europe’s history that laid the foundations of what is now the European Union. On 9 May 1950, 5 years after the end of the Second World War that devastated Europe, the Foreign Affairs Minister of France, Robert Schuman, called on France and Germany to work together to make war on the continent impossible. To make this project of peace stronger, they then offered their cooperation to other European nations. 

‘Growing Stronger Together’ is the slogan marking the 50 years of diplomatic relations between the European Union and Nepal. The European Union has been in Nepal at all the critical junctures of the last decades: to support the Nepali peace process, to accompany the first democratic elections. We were very much here when the terrible earthquakes hit Nepal in 2015 and a few years later, when COVID-19 put a stress test on your health system and economy. 

In this challenging world, we cannot overstate the importance of having good friends. And this is what the European Union is for Nepal and what Nepal is for the European Union.

I will not tell you anything new by saying that, in our world of today, the challenges are many and they are multiplying. To the brutal war of aggression by Russia against Ukraine that has brought back war to our European continent, we now add the inhuman and indiscriminate attacks in Israel in October last year that have unleashed a chain-reaction causing an unprecedented loss of civilian lives, a critical humanitarian situation in Gaza and increased instability in the region. Even peace-loving Nepal has been deeply affected by these crises, and we stand in solidarity with the families who suffer today, be it the family of Bipin Joshi, still held hostage by terrorists, or the families of Nepalis tricked into joining the Russian army.

In this challenging world, we, the European Union, continue to engage globally to promote peace, common values such as the rule of law and human rights, multilateralism and provide humanitarian assistance and partnerships. 

Having overcome many challenges in the last five decades, Nepal is now at a crucial point in its trajectory: It will graduate from Least Developed Country status in 2026 and needs to attract investment to foster economic growth and create business and employment, especially for the young generation. The European Union’s way of supporting Nepal’s agenda is through its “Global Gateway”, together with the European Union Member States and European Development Finance Institutions. 

Global Gateway can support Nepal’s progress and narrow the investment gap through smart, clean and secure investments in quality infrastructure and connectivity.

As a very concrete step in this direction, we are organizing the second EU-Nepal Business Forum next week on 15-16 May, bringing in our EU companies to showcase the potential for investment Nepal holds in a number of sectors. 

Let me conclude by wishing the European Union and Nepal to continue growing stronger together over the next 50 years and beyond.

Veronique Lorenzo is the ambassador of the European Union to Nepal.  The above article is drawn from the remarks ambassador Lorenzo delivered during the Europe Day celebration organized in Kathmandu on Thursday.