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European Commission


Brussels, 18 September 2013

EU relations with the Caribbean

Europe has strong historic, economic and cultural ties with the Caribbean region. The EU's relations with the Caribbean countries are based on political relations, trade and development. In addition to the 2002 Cotonou Agreement (a partnership agreement between a group of 80 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU that expires in 2020), the relationship is complemented by the EU-CARIFORUM1 Economic Partnership Agreement, covering trade related issues and the Joint Caribbean EU Partnership Strategy, dealing with political issues.

Summits of the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) leaders take place biennially, the last one was held in Santiago, Chile, in January 2013. For the period 2008-2013, the European Development Fund (EDF) has provided approximately €938 million for the implementation of National and the Caribbean regional indicative programmes.

Joint EU-Caribbean Partnership Strategy

In November 2012 the EU Council endorsed the Joint EU-Caribbean Partnership Strategy, which had been developed on the basis of the decision of the May 2010 EU-CARIFORUM Summit in Madrid and was elaborated jointly by the EU and CARIFORUM countries. CARIFORUM Ministers endorsed the new Strategy at their annual ministerial meeting in November 2012.

The Strategy aims to enhance the EU-Caribbean relations by strengthening the political dimension of the relationship alongside the more traditional existing trade and development aspects. It allows parties to intensify their cooperation in a number of core areas of mutual interest, namely: regional integration, reconstruction of Haiti, climate change and natural disasters, crime and security and joint action in multilateral fora.

Cooperation under the European Development Fund

The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main instrument for providing EU aid for development cooperation in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. Each EDF is concluded for a multi-annual period and is implemented within the framework of an agreement guiding the relations between the EU and each partner country or region. Geographical cooperation with the ACP under the EDF is complemented by development aid provided by the EU’s general budget and by bilateral cooperation and contributions from individual Member States to multilateral development cooperation.

The 10th European Development Fund (2008–2013) foresaw at its launch approximately €737 million in national programmes to the Caribbean countries. Focal sectors are in the area of governance and competitiveness or infrastructure/interconnectivity, macroeconomic budgetary support or poverty reduction.

The 10th EDF Caribbean Regional Programme has received an allocation of €165 million. The Regional Programme focuses on support to regional integration and EPA implementation. Outside the focal sector a programme to support the fight against drugs and improve security of the region is currently under preparation.

Results of EU-Caribbean Regional Cooperation

The main programme of support to the Caribbean under the 9th European Development Fund (2003-2007) was the Caribbean Integration Support Programme (CISP). The CISP focused on strengthening the capacities of several key regional institutions, including the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre, the Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality and the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. Human resources in the CARICOM Secretariat were also improved significantly through the CISP programme, which recruited up to 86 people. Moreover, the capacity of the CARICOM Secretariat has also been supported by Technical Cooperation Facilities.

EU intervention also benefitted law enforcement agencies through training and capacity development. With EU support, the Drugs Council's sharing of information contributed to better programmes for demand and supply reduction.

Under the 10th EDF (2008-2013) support is provided through the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and economic integration programme. These initiatives build on the lessons learned under the previous programmes and will i.a. further strengthen the capacities at the CARICOM Secretariat with the setting up of a dedicated Project Management Team.

Results of EU development cooperation with Haiti

On 12 January 2010, Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake that took 222,750 people's lives, injured many thousands and made 1.7 million homeless. Since day one, the European Union has been fully mobilized to respond to the needs of the Haitian population, providing both immediate humanitarian relief on a massive scale, as well as longer-term development aid. The EU has committed €540 million for financing projects in a number of priority areas, such as supporting the State's budget, road infrastructure rehabilitation, agriculture, education, human rights, food security, electoral assistance and support to trade.

For instance, over the last five years, the EU has supported a €38 million programme (PARQE) for improving the quality of public primary education in Haiti. The objective was to increase the number of schools, the quality of the facilities and the training of teachers. Under this programme, the EU has contributed to the establishment of 17 educational support centres (EFACAPs: “Ecoles fondamentales d’application/Centres d’appui pédagogique”) which provide training and pedagogic assistance to primary and vocational education teachers. Moreover, this programme has funded the rehabilitation of 77 schools and the creation of 81 new classrooms. Around 7,000 teachers received training across the country and at least 120,000 children have benefitted from the overall project.

The EU's humanitarian response to the earthquake has continued throughout 2011 and 2012, addressing the prevalent humanitarian needs. Total humanitarian aid to Haiti 2011-2012 has now reached €72.75 million.

The EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement

On October 15, 2008 an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was signed between the EU and Caribbean countries. The EU-CARIFORUM EPA is a pioneering agreement in the international trading system. It is the first genuinely comprehensive North-South trade agreement that promotes sustainable development, builds a regional market among developing countries and helps eliminate poverty. It puts the Caribbean on the map as an expanding market, where traders and investors can find opportunities for growth and security for their investments.

Through the EPA the two regions aim to build on their long-established economic ties to foster growth, jobs and development in the Caribbean. The EU worked together with the Haitian authorities in order to adjust some of Haiti’s tariff commitments in light of its specific needs as least-developed country (LDC). This made it possible for Haiti to sign the EPA in December 2009.

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CARIFORUM includes 14 of the 15 members of CARICOM plus Cuba and the Dominican Republic

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