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EU Approves More Aid To Armenia


Belgium -- EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn gives a press conference on the review of the European policy and enlargement negotiations, at the European Commission in Brussels, November 18, 2015

Belgium -- EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn gives a press conference on the review of the European policy and enlargement negotiations, at the European Commission in Brussels, November 18, 2015

The European Union has allocated 30 million euros ($33 million) in fresh assistance to Armenia that will mainly finance reforms designed to streamline the country’s labor market and boost public oversight of its finances.

“This renewed support to our eastern neighbor will allow crucial reforms to take place,” Johannes Hahn, the EU’s European neighborhood and enlargement commissioner, said on Wednesday.

“This is good news for Armenian citizens as these reforms, be it through better public services or increased job opportunities, will benefit them directly,” Hahn added in a statement released by the EU’s executive body, the European Commission.

The commission specified that the largest segment of the aid package, worth 15 million euros, will be spent on improving “the efficiency of Armenia's labor market and the employability of its workforce, with a particular emphasis on agricultural employment.” This is supposed to help develop a “national system of professional orientation” and “career guidance centers” for rural workforce.

The EU will spend another 10 million euros on making public spending in Armenia more transparent and efficient. “This should also help prevent corruption,” said the European Commission statement.

It was not clear whether these sums will be directly channeled into the Armenian state budget and spent by the Armenian government.

The remaining 5 million euros will be allocated to Armenian non-governmental organizations monitoring and trying to influence government policies. The statement did not name those groups.

The fresh aid was announced more than one week after the EU and Armenia began official negotiations in Brussels on a wide-ranging agreement to deepen their relations. It is expected to contain many political and economic provisions of an Association Agreement nearly signed by the two sides two years ago. The EU abandoned that deal after Armenia unexpectedly decided to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.

The EU’s previous aid allocation to Armenia, worth 77.5 million euros, was announced in January.

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