The partnership between the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union (EU) remains very important to both Sides, certainly to CARIFORUM.
The EU has been and remains a reliable Caribbean development partner whose support is important in the region’s efforts towards its sustainable and inclusive growth and development.
As the Chair of CARIFORUM, I speak on behalf of all 16 States when I say how deeply appreciative the governments and peoples of the region have been to be beneficiaries of successive multi-annual aid programmes from the EU.
For the new funding cycle 2021-2027 under the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI-Global Europe), there have been significant changes, some not so palatable, which we will have an opportunity to discuss during our high-level dialogue tomorrow. However, as a true partner, the EU has specifically earmarked 800 million Euros for the Caribbean. A dedicated window stipulated at 208 million Euros will address regional priority projects and programmes.
The EU Cooperation with the Caribbean over the next few years will seek to reinforce the Caribbean-EU partnership in three priority areas:
- green deal
- economic resilience and trade
- governance, security and human development
The first partnership reflects the convergence of priorities of the two regions on Green Deal issues such as climate change, disaster management and green transition.
CARIFORUM States are extremely susceptible to external shocks which have the effect of exacerbating existing human and social vulnerabilities. CARIFORUM States are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, such as hurricanes (which can erode the domestic capital stock, increase the costs of capital through high replacement rates, and ultimately force governments to resort to additional borrowing to aid recovery). The projected impacts of global climate change on CARIFORUM States are expected to be devastating. These impacts are expected to be exacerbated due to the limited adaptive capacity of the States.
With an increase in the quantity and intensity of natural disasters and with unsustainable production, management and consumption patterns and the generation of waste, support for green deal issues is timely.
The second partnership – Economic Resilience and Trade, reflects among other things, an area where both sides can take better advantage of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. The region anticipates that through this partnership there will be renewed interest of EU IFIs (and I note the Vice President of the EIB is part of the Commission’s delegation and intends to share some useful information with us. We hope it will also bring to the region the EU private sector as well as EU Member States that have a limited presence in CARIFORUM. It goes without saying that we also anticipate that the ground work will be further enhanced to facilitate CARIFORUM States meaningfully benefitting from the EPA, as contemplated when it was signed. The last review was not flattering.
CARIFORUM States have an intrinsic economic vulnerability defined by high public debts, limited fiscal space, small scale and fragmented markets, often geographic isolation and reliance on few sectors, exposed to all kinds of external shocks. Supporting sustainable growth and decent jobs, facilitating trade and promoting regional integration through this partnership is timely and must be promoted and ensured.
The third partnership aims to bridge the gap by providing support for certain governance, security and human development challenges.
Caribbean societies face common and intertwined societal challenges, such as high youth unemployment and the vulnerability to shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic which pronounce social inequalities. We welcome support here as well. However, support to ensure safer, more inclusive and resilient societies must be driven by the needs of the CARIFORUM States and of the region. Our specific circumstances must be taken into account.
The Caribbean Regional Multi-Annual Indicative Programme 2021-2027 adopted by the European Commission will undoubtedly help meet the challenges of Caribbean development. CARIFORUM is deeply appreciative of the EU’s continued support to the Region. Especially at this time as the relationship between the two regions is evolving.
That said, certain core principles should remain constant. I am here referring to the global aid effectiveness principles. We therefore look forward to effectively participating in project identification, design, implementation at the national level and the regional level through our coordinating centre – the CARIFORUM Directorate.
The evolving relationship has been described as the more mature relationship. At the same time the asymmetries are without question. In that sense, now more than ever, CARIFORUM needs the EU’s continued support for our coordinating bodies and processes.
Commissioner, your presence here in the region, not only for the launch of the three Caribbean-EU partnerships but to dialogue with us on the Caribbean-EU partnership is testament to the strength and durability of the relationship between our two regions.
Commissioner, other colleagues from the EU, on behalf of the CARIFORUM States – THANK YOU.