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Remarks by CARICOM Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett to the Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM with the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice President of the European Union, Panama, 3 May 2022

  • His Excellency Joseph Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission;
  • Senator the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize and Chair of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations;
  • Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Heads of Delegations of the Caribbean Community; and
  • CARICOM and EU delegations.

Good morning.

We meet today mindful of the longstanding relations, shared interests and functional cooperation which takes place within the CARIFORUM-EU framework as well as the OACPS-EU and EU-LAC platforms. These mechanisms, including the new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement, and the Caribbean-EU Regional Protocol, provide our Member States access to meaningful development assistance and avenues to increase collaboration in trade and development and address the myriad social issues confronting our regions.

Just recently Caribbean States met and discussed actions to ensure the smooth operation of our Post-Cotonou relations, including development cooperation. A full meeting with the EU in the near future should follow this encounter today.

Excellency, you are no doubt seized of the Herculean efforts of CARICOM Member States to build resilience in the fight to combat climate change as well as the protracted COVID-19 pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on our economies.  And we have no doubt that the support of partners is instrumental to the buoying of our economies when we are beset by any crisis, and indeed multiple ones.

The region is therefore highly appreciative of the support provided by the EU as we were confronted by the COVID-19 pandemic and look forward to continuing EU’s support as we seek to rebound.

That recovery from the pandemic is now threatened by the adverse impact of the conflict in Ukraine on our small economies. We must now make adjustments to address the substantial increases in fuel and commodity prices which are affecting developing states particularly deeply/more extensively.

As we contemplate deepening and extending our important partnership it is clear that climate change and realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals must remain at the forefront of our interests. The impact of climate change to our Region and the urgency to protect our planet increases with the inability to seriously pursue the ambition of 1.5° to stay alive. CARICOM applauds the EU’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2050, however, we remain hopeful that the EU and other more advanced countries will recognise the need for greater ambition towards nullifying this existential threat to our vulnerable countries, and act decisively towards our agreed goals.

Our countries require a specific, unique approach to meet this threat including reassessing eligibility for development finance.  An approach that measures our true reality, which is heavily marked by vulnerability. We welcome/continue to call for the European Union’s influential voice in the international donor community, and where it matters most, in the international finance architecture in support of the development of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) to this end.

Ministers, Excellencies, CARICOM welcomes a Europe that champions multilateralism and a rules-based global order through a more active role and stronger voice for all our countries. The future of relations between the Caribbean region and the EU must continue to acknowledge the development interests and priorities of all our countries. The relationship must promote the development of our private sector, improvement of digital connectivity, implementation of human development initiatives and the creation of an environment within which all our countries can benefit equally. We are committed to these goals, and we look forward to productive discussions with the EU today and beyond.


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