The European Union (EU) and the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) have signed a €346 million cooperation programme to develop the region.
EU High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini and CARIFORUM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque signed the agreement on Thursday in Brussels, where the Second EU-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Summit was being held.
A joint communique said the cooperation programme is a significant contribution to Caribbean development efforts. It noted that it would focus on regional integration, climate change, sustainable energy and environment, and crime and security, and would include allocations to the Caribbean Investment Facility, which is aimed at stimulating further investment in the region, as well as multi-country initiatives.
The communique noted that the meeting of Heads of State and Governments of the CARIFORUM and Mogherini provided an opportunity to welcome and exchange views on the implementation of the Joint Caribbean-European Union Partnership Strategy, adopted in November 2012, which offers a facilitating framework for the further strengthening of the bi-regional partnership.
“They decided to step up efforts to implement the Joint Strategy and agreed to pursue concrete operational actions towards cooperation in other priority areas,” it said.
Also discussed at the meeting were challenges and opportunities for further integration and more inclusive development in the region; reconstruction and development in Haiti; the fight against poverty; environment protection, disaster risk reduction and the fight against climate change, including the enhanced use of clean energies; improving governance in both regions; crime and security; and cooperation in bi-regional and multilateral fora and on global issues.
The communique also said both the EU and CARIFORUM will continue to work towards effective implementation of projects financed by the European Development Fund. It noted too that they have started a five-year review of the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), with a view to improving its performance. “While recognising the challenges in its implementation, the Leaders agreed that the EPA can offer important opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development,” it said.
According to the communique, the leaders also recognised the importance of social and economic development to the attainment of citizen security. They further acknowledged the EU Strategy on Citizen Security in Central America and the Caribbean as an important contribution to the promotion of regional and international cooperation in this field but stressed the importance of incorporating “the human development dimension” into public safety strategies, while adhering to the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of states and respect for human rights. It was noted that proposals to set up appropriate benchmarks and monitoring mechanisms, to be presented by CARIFORUM, will be considered.
In addition, the leaders welcomed the collaborative approach of the European Union to its cooperation and engagement with both Central America and the Caribbean on the enhancement of citizen security. They also agreed to consider partnering with leaders from Central America to address the security threats which both regions face as well as their root causes.