Brussels, 18 October 2007
Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "With this signing, the Pacific Islands will be that little bit closer to Europe. I am delighted to see that agreed strategies are on the way now for concrete projects for the benefit of the peoples of the Pacific Region".
The country strategy papers signed today set out the Commission’s aid programmes for 13 Pacific States and earmark € 267 million for development projects in the fields of sustainable management of natural resources (renewable energy in particular), economic growth and good governance. The European Union’s strategy for the Pacific adopted in 2006 is now on its way thanks to the adoption of the country strategy papers.
The 13 Pacific States in question are: Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
A Special Consultative Session European Union-Pacific Islands Forum is planned for tomorrow with a view to launching an enhanced political dialogue between the two regions. Now the European Union and the States of the Pacific Region can regularly discuss subjects of common interest: security, trade, environment as well as social and economic development.
The Pacific Ocean covers one third of the earth. The Pacific Island States enjoy an amazing ecological heritage (biodiversity of forest or fish for example) but their preservation is threatened by climate change (sea level rise, cyclones, typhoons) and their geographic situation distant from the main consumption centres make it difficult for them to benefit from the globalised economy. Facing climate change, the Commission has launched a new Global Climate Change Alliance to help the most affected developing countries.
In 1975, the European Community set up a partnership to foster economic development in the Pacific Island Region. The Community has financed programmes since then to ensure better economic growth in a number of fields: fisheries, tourism, education, trade, water, energy, transport and the private sector. This partnership was renewed by the Cotonou Agreement. This agreement, signed on 23 June 2000 in Cotonou (Benin) and revised in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005, links the EU and 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. It focuses on poverty reduction as its principal objective to be achieved through political dialogue, development aid and closer economic and trade co-operation.
Funding for development programmes comes from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and the Pacific States are the first to sign the country strategy papers in the framework of the 10th EDF. Country Strategy Papers for Africa and the Caribbean will follow.
In conformity with the European Consensus on Development adopted in 2005, ownership and the effectiveness of aid are two central themes that inspire partners of the European Union on their way toward development.