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Remarks by the Secretary-General of CARIFORUM/CARICOM Dr. Carla N. Barnett at the Launch of the Caribbean-EU Partnerships 2021-2027 Bridgetown, Barbados, 11 October, 2022

  • Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados;
  • Honourable E.P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Immigration of Antigua and Barbuda, and Chairman of the Caribbean Forum of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM);
  • Other Honourable Ministers;
  • Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships of the European Commission;
  • Your Excellency Malgorzata Wasilewska, Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean;
  • Other Members of Staff of the Delegation of the European Union;
  • Representatives of Regional Institutions;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

This morning, the IMF warned that the “worst is yet to come”; a third of global economies will face recessions next year.  This warning should not shock us since the world is facing multiple crises simultaneously. In this regard, developing countries are facing the worst crises. We are gripped by the fallout from the pandemic, continuously impacted by disasters and burdened by debt – some of which are caused by the disasters, climate change impacts and food an energy insecurity, the development path of the Caribbean is unsteady at best. Small, vulnerable economies cannot survive alone.  Partnerships remain a core component of our development needs.

This latest iteration of the development cooperation relationship between the Caribbean and the European Union that is being launched today is a partnership with a focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  The proposal to center work on the SDGs that relate to human development and education, including poverty eradication, zero hunger, health, education, access to energy, and reducing inequalities is important, if we are to not only survive, but to thrive. Furthermore, the emphasis on the international development agenda, in particular on climate change, biodiversity and financing for development, are at the core of Caribbean calls for meaningful sustainable development. In an increasingly fractured multilateral environment, the principles underlying our work are even more critical.  

The European Union’s (EU) cooperation with the Caribbean for 2021-2027, is framed by partnerships in three specific areas: (1) Green Deal; (2) Economic Resilience and Trade; and (3) Governance, Security and Human Development. In addition to the three areas, provision is made for cooperation in strategic communications, public diplomacy and policy dialogue.  Taken together, these support calls by the Caribbean for resilience building and sustainable communities.

The funding in programmable grant resources for these Caribbean priorities, include multi-annual national programmes and, as with past funding cycles, a regional programme, all of which has the potential to assist the Caribbean as we seek to effectively address those critical issues which are standing in the way of our sustainable development and, as in the case of climate change, challenge our very survival.

It is important that the Caribbean will also have opportunities to access the European Sustainable Fund, within which we are advised that Regional Platforms, including a Caribbean Platform, are to be established. Enhancing and nurturing democratic governance in the Caribbean cannot be understated. It is therefore most welcomed that it will be possible for the Region to access thematic programmes in areas such as, (a) Human Rights and Democracy (b) Civil Society Organizations (c) Peace, Stability and Conflict Prevention and (d) Global Challenges – whether through negotiated access or in a competitive environment. We look forward to being able to access those resources.

The EU remains a valuable development partner of the Caribbean, for which I express my appreciation on behalf of the Region.

There is a lot of work to be done to develop these areas of cooperation, and the Caribbean Members States and the CARIFORUM Secretariat look forward to working together with the EU in the spirit of partnership to develop and implement actions that contribute to the sustainable development of our nations and our peoples.   

I thank you very much.

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