Staff reporter 

The new European Union Ambassador, His Excellency Hervé Delphin presented his Letters of Credence to His Majesty The King at an official ceremony yesterday. 

The ceremony was followed by an audience with His Majesty The King, which allowed for a rich exchange on Bhutan’s perspectives and the visionary initiative of the Gelephu Mindfulness City. 

 “The European Union has been a major and reliable partner for Bhutan over the past decades. Our partnership has expanded and evolved, accompanying Bhutan’s unique socio-economic growth model, centered on sustainable and human development. Looking ahead, we are committed to pursue this high value and quality relationship as the Kingdom of Bhutan embraces a new phase of its history,” Ambassador Delphin said.

 Following the presentation of his credentials, the newly appointed Ambassador also met with the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and members of the government, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, D.N. Dhungyel and speaker of the National Assembly, Lungten Dorji.

Today, the Ambassador will meet with the Minister for Finance, Lekey Dorji, the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Younten Phuntsho, Home Affairs Minister Tshering as well as the chairperson of the National Council Sangay Dorji and other Bhutanese high-level officials, parliamentarians, and partners in Bhutan’s development.

The EU and Bhutan have a long history of cooperation, with the first EU-Bhutan development programme dating back to 1982. 

While the cooperation has deepened and widened over the years, the current partnership is focused on three priority areas—climate change, green growth for a resilient Bhutan, good governance for inclusive socio-economic development and digital transition using technology as a driver of productivity, according to the press release from the EU.

 The European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU’s Bank, recently signed its first-ever investment support for Bhutan in April 2024, providing a thirty-year EIB loan for Euro 150 million. This financing aims to support the construction of small to mid-size run-of-river hydropower plants and solar photovoltaic generation to help the Bhutanese government diversify the country’s power mix. 

 “While Bhutan has graduated from the least developed countries status, our commitment to continue supporting Bhutan’s development remains steadfast. We value Bhutan’s constructive engagement at regional and global levels, driven by stability, peace and human progress.” the Ambassador Delphin added.

 The European Union is committed to assisting Bhutan in achieving sustainable and inclusive development, in alignment with the United Nations 2030 Agenda, the Global Gateway Strategy, and the EU Indo-Pacific Strategy. The EU supports Bhutan in delivering on its priorities through a budget allocation of Euro 31 million (2021-2024), which is transmitted directly into the treasury. 

Additionally, funds are provided for projects in support of Sustainable Consumption and Production (Euro 3.3 million), Civil Societies and their engagement with the Parliament (Euro 3.4 million), Public Finance Management capacity development (Euro 2 million) and support to investments (Euro 1.3 million).  

 The EU and Bhutan are currently consulting about future development assistance (2021-2027) in line with Bhutan’s 12th Plan, it added. 

 The EU is Bhutan’s third biggest development cooperation partner after India and Japan. The EU27 is Bhutan’s 2nd biggest export market and Bhutan’s 3rd import partner.

  Trade between the EU and Bhutan amounts to Euro 61 million in 2022.