European Union suspends development support for Myanmar

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

The European Union has suspended its support for development projects in Myanmar to avoid providing financial assistance to the military after it seized power last month, officials said on Thursday.

The 27-nation EU informed a committee of the World Trade Organization that it had put on hold all development cooperation that would support the military authorities, a Geneva-based trade official said.

The European Commission, the EU executive, confirmed it had suspended the budgetary support, which in past years has involved more than 200 million euros (an equivalent of $240.7 million) in separate programmes often running typically for four years.

The EU’s decision follows international condemnation of the February 1 military coup in Myanmar that overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. As protests continue against the junta, the United Nations special envoy on Myanmar said 38 people had been killed on Wednesday.

EU development assistance to Myanmar has focused on education, justice, elections and supporting nutrition in rural areas, in one of Asia’s poorest countries.

EU foreign ministers agreed last month to look into sanctions that could target businesses owned by the army, but ruled out any curtailing of trade preferences for Myanmar to avoid hurting the poorest workers in textiles.

Myanmar benefits from the EU’s “Everything But Arms” scheme, which grants duty-free, quota-free access for all its exports, except arms and ammunition, to the EU market of 450 million consumers.

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