The European Commission has adopted today a proposal for a new EU Strategy for the Caribbean. The strategy promotes a strong partnership between the European Union and the Caribbean on development, the fight against poverty, democracy, human rights and global threats to peace, security and stability. The Commission wishes to shape a political partnership based on shared values to address the Caribbean region’s economic and environmental opportunities and promote social cohesion.
”What we are proposing with this new strategy is a mutually beneficial partnership for development, democracy and security. This strong link will help us to address the important challenges of globalisation which the Caribbean region faces today. We must prevent that the region drifts into political insecurity and help the Caribbean region achieve its long term development goals in a self sustaining manner”, said Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid.
The Caribbean region has embarked on a path of regional integration and economic diversification, restructuring and reform. In its strategy paper, the Commission supports this development as a means to harness the opportunities of globalisation by the mostly small and economically vulnerable Caribbean states. The communication adopted today highlights how the challenges facing the Caribbean can be transformed into opportunities with the right ‘policy-mix’. In this context, the Commission proposes a number of concrete actions around three major lines:
A political partnership based on shared values: The development of a strong political partnership between the EU and the Caribbean is a new and central element of the EU’s Caribbean Strategy. A political partnership in particular on good and effective governance is the key to the consolidation of democracy, to respect of human rights, to improvements in gender equality, social cohesion, security, stability, conflict prevention, migration, drugs and regional integration. The EU will systematically support key institutions as central for achieving good governance such as parliaments, the judiciary and public financial management systems. To make these institutions work effectively, the EU will also promote transparency and exchange of information to fight corruption as well as corporate and financial malpractices.
Addressing Economic and environmental opportunities and vulnerabilities: In an increasingly interdependent and globalised world, a major objective of EU Development Policy is to assist developing countries to better harness the globalisation process. To this end, the EU will support the regional integration efforts in the Caribbean and help increase competitiveness, diversify exports and support the establishment of regional markets. The EU will also step up its trade related assistance and support small and medium size enterprises. Environment and natural resources represent an important asset for in particular the poorer part of the local population. Caribbean States face many environmental challenges all of which impact strongly on the region’s economic and social development. The EU will contribute to increasing the region’s capacity in Natural Disaster Management with emphasis on risk reduction, preparedness, early warning, prevention and mitigation.
Promoting Social Cohesion and Combating Poverty: The EU will support the efforts of the Caribbeans to responding to chronic poverty and improve sustainable basic livelihood. In close cooperation with Civil Society, the EU will support national strategies to support social safety nets and income generation for the poorest. The fight against HIV/AIDS and the strengthening of health care systems with special emphasis on human resources and fair access is also a priority in this context. In the area of drugs. The EU will focus on a drug prevention policy, with emphasis on education and awareness, training and support of co-ordination between institutions. Brain-drain, socio-economic alienation and weak social cohesion are realities for many in the Caribbean region. Providing the skill base and ‘know-how’ to take advantage of economic diversification will be a key EU mechanism for overriding the social and socio-economic challenges faced by the Caribbean today.
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