EU pledges 20 mn euros to ease Jordan’s economic woes

Jordanian protesters chant slogans during an anti-austerity rally on June 6, 2018 in Amman
AFP

Amman (AFP) – European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced Sunday 20 million euros ($23.5 million) in aid for Jordan following a wave of anti-austerity protests that led to the prime minister’s resignation.

The EU will support Jordan “with all possible means at our disposal including economic and financial means,” Mogherini said during a visit to Amman. 

“This is a country that has a vital role to play in the region,” she told a news conference.

“You will have always the EU at your side fully supporting your reform work.”

The funds would “address in particular the needs of Jordanians that are particularly vulnerable,” Mogherini said.

Cash-strapped Jordan, a close US ally that relies heavily on donors, is struggling to rein in its debt after securing a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

Austerity measures have seen prices of basic necessities rise across the kingdom, culminating in angry protests over tax proposals — later withdrawn — that forced prime minister Hani Mulki to resign on June 4.

Jordan blames its economic woes on instability rocking the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war in neighbouring Syria.

The World Bank says Jordan has “weak growth prospects” this year, while 18.5 percent of the working age population is unemployed.

Later Sunday Jordan was due to hold talks in Mecca with one of its major donors, Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait on ways to help Amman overcome its economic problems.

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