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CARIFORUM DG: ACP-EU parliamentary assembly should address EU’s differentiation policies

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Caribbean parliamentarians must utilise the opportunity of the 9th Regional Meeting of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) to join with Caribbean leaders in taking a strong stand against the EU’s approach to differentiation.

The EU has indicated that it will apply the principle of differentiation to the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) National Indicative Programmes (NIPs), with the resultant effect that the majority of NIPs in the Caribbean Region will be cut. Such action is regrettable.

The Director-General of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) Directorate in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Mr Ivan Ogando Lora, expressed this view en route to the JPA, which will be held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from 14-16 February, 2013.

He further stated that “the European Union (EU) has been a valued, longstanding development partner. However, its stance on differentiation has prompted the CARIFORUM Region to take a hard look at this partnership, as, at a time when regional states are counting on reliable resources to implement the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Caribbean-EU Joint Strategy — neither of which makes specific provisions for financial support — the EDF, as the core source for financing development cooperation within the framework of CARIFORUM-EU relations, now faces the prospect of being scaled back.” Mr Ogando cautioned that the mechanics of the application of differentiation remain internal to the European Commission.

Mr. Ogando was invited by the JPA organizers to participate in the 9th Regional Meeting and deliver an address on the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. His speech will delve into various facets of the implementation of the EPA, with a particular focus on issues of note that the CARIFORUM and EU sides have engaged on through the Joint Institutions that oversee the implementation process. In taking stock of the Agreement’s implementation and elaborating on the future of CARIFORUM-EU relations, Mr. Ogando indicated that he will call attention to the negative effects of the EU’s New Development Policy, about which Caribbean leaders have already raised serious concerns.

Most recently, Caribbean Heads of Government voiced their concerns with respect to the new EU Development Policy, in discussions with President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission José Manuel Durão Barroso, on the occasion of a CARIFORUM-EU High-Level Meeting held in the margins of the first Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States (CELAC)-EU Summit in Chile last month.

At another recent high profile event — the Seventh Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in December 2012 – the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and the then Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, Dr. the Hon. Kenny D. Anthony described as “disquieting” the issues of differentiation and graduation, which he said “target the economic vitality and the future development of some vulnerable [ACP] Member States.”

The Secretary-General of CARIFORUM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, also expressed concern over the possibility of a decrease in development assistance from the EU under the new EU Development Policy. In an address to the Twentieth Meeting of the CARIFORUM Council of Ministers in Santo Domingo in November 2012, he underscored that the new policy threatened to cast a shadow over CARIFORUM-EU relations.

According to organizers of the upcoming JPA, the Meeting will be jointly chaired by the two Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU JPA, Musikari Kombo and Louis Michel. It is expected to bring together 15 JPA parliamentarians from national parliaments of the Caribbean Region and an equal number of JPA Members from the European Parliament to exchange views on a number of issues of interest to the Caribbean.

The fifteen signatory Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (CARIFORUM) States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.

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