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Monday, May 15, 2006 

Barbados in the forefront on EU-Caribbean relations
´Web Posted - Mon May 15 2006
By Terence Murrell
Barbados, the host country of the European Commission Delegation in the Eastern Caribbean, is leading the way in many respects when it comes to EU-Caribbean relations.

This view was expressed by Amos Tincani, Head of the Delega tion of the European Commission to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, during a speech he delivered recently as part of the Commissions Europe Day celebrations. According to Tincani, Barbados was looking at retooling its sugarcane industry well before t he EU sugar reforms were started, and has also adopted a National Strategic Plan to become a developed country by 2025.

Already under the current 9th European Development Fund's National Indicative Programme (EDF/NIP), we provide direct budget assist ance to the health sector against health policy reforms...2006 is the 40th anniversary of independence of Barbados and the 30th anniversary of our Delegation here. Through our continued assistance, we will support you in your development goals, he stated.

Highlighting a number of other developments in EU-Caribbean relations over the last 12 months, Tincani noted the adoption by the European Commission of a strategy paper on the Caribbean. According to him this is the very first time that the European Commission has tried to define its own objectives for the Caribbean and why it wants to remain engaged in the region. This, strategy, already approved by the Council of Ministers, was presented at the recent European Union-Latin America and Caribbean (EU-LAC) summit in Vienna.

Another development is the EU Communication on the Caribbean programme, intended to highlight how the challenges facing the Caribbean can be transformed into opportunities by focusing on the right policy-mix. The strateg y is a strong mutually beneficial partnership within which the two sides will work together towards the shared ideals of democracy and human rights and in the fight against poverty and global threats to peace, security and stability.
The EU will also assi st the Caribbean to achieve the region's development objectives and to respond to the many specific challenges facing the region, noted Tincani.
In enhancing the Caribbean's own reform and development agenda, the objectives of the EU's approach are b ased on three dimensions: (1) shaping a political partnership based on shared values; (2) addressing economic and environmental opportunities and vulnerabilities; (3) and promoting social cohesion and combating poverty.
A second major development is the reform of the EU sugar Common Market Organisation, entailing a reduction of the intervention price applicable to ACP sugar protocol countries. The reform has triggered the strongest emotional reactions from the region.

I would like only to refer to the words of CDB President Dr Compton Bourne at the recent sugar workshop held here in Barbados, that the reform of the Caribbean sugar sector would have been necessary even without the EU price reduction. We are now looking forward to the future.
The Sugar Protocol countries have submitted their adaptation strategies, and we in the Commission are busy preparing our response, said Tincani.

He added, The Commission has just made a formal proposal of ¬ 165 m grant aid for 2007, which would, if approv ed by the Council and Parliament, represent a four-fold increase over 2006. It would represent more than 470% of the expected revenue loss under the Sugar protocol in 2007, and more than 65% of the revenue loss calculated with the full price cut, starting in 2009.

Another process of key importance to the region highlighted by Tincani is the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, which last September in Saint Lucia entered the negotiating phase. The EPA is supporting current regional integration processes as a stepping stone to higher competitiveness. Through the Caribbean Regional Programme we are supporting the CARICOM Single Market.
On the aid front, we are considering with our partner countries the possibility of policy based assistance and direct budget support. Here again, let us hope that improved economic policies and accelerated aid flows will go hand in hand. Let me recall however, that Eastern Caribbean countries remain the world's highest beneficiaries of EU assistance on a per capita basis.

Barbados Advocate ©2000

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