Key EU-CARIFORUM meeting opens today
CARIFORUM Director General Percival Marie said his team will be making strong representation for the region when the 11th European Development Fund
CARIFORUM Director General Percival Marie
(EDF) Programming Seminar for the Caribbean region opens today.
Marie told media operatives here on Wednesday that his team plans to hold bilateral meetings with the European Union delegation, putting forward what the region hopes to accomplish from the funds obtained through the 11th EDF.
During November last year, a special CARIFORUM council meeting was held with ministers, where the ministerial council had before them a concept paper on 11th EDF regional programming. There, officials from across the region sought to identify Caribbean priorities.
According to Marie, ministerial endorsement and instructions for amendments to that paper were given. The secretariat and directorate were also instructed to convene a meeting of Caribbean stakeholders, who could serve to offer collectively advise on the priorities and assist in refining the document that had been considered by ministers.
“In that context, we brought together CARIFORUM member states representatives of regional civil society and representatives of regional organisations likely to be involved in the evolution of the regional indicative programme and probably in having an interest in implementation of these areas,” the body’s head added.
Over the past two days he said the team has looked at an internal document which identified priorities for use of EU resources in the next cycle.
The group also looked at draft guidelines issued by the EU for the 11th programme. He said, “We think that coming out of those meetings the priorities of the region in terms of going forward with the 11th EDF has been clearly identified and articulated.”
Marie noted that the region will have to make optimum use of the 11th EDF, as these funds are being made available at a critical time, when EU member states are faced with fiscal and economic pressures.
Added to that, there are also ongoing debates on differentiation and graduation of some Caribbean countries benefiting from the grant resources.
“So, for us as a region, this pool of resources and the use to which these resources are put are of significant importance,” Marie asserted.
The team said it anticipated that it will begin formally the joint programming process with the EU at the seminar, where the commission will give an indication of some of the proposals that it has in respect of approaches, to regional programming.
Both the EU and CARIFORUM, at the ministerial level, have endorsed a joint strategy, specifying five thematic areas: regional integration and cooperation, cooperation on crime and security, climate change issues, support for institutional and economic development of Haiti, and collaboration at the international level.
These matters were discussed in depth during a ministerial meeting in June in the Dominican Republic and were endorsed by regional ministers.
At present, while CARIFORUM has had discussions in anticipation of an announcement of the funds to be allocated towards the 11th EDF, focus will only be placed on the broad areas. The team hopes to look at the details, during bilateral talks this week which will zoom on joint management proposals for projects and programme identification.
European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs is expected to hold separate bilateral meetings with the National Authorising Officers (NAOs) and will also meet with representatives of the CARIFORUM Directorate.
The commissioner will address the plenary session during the opening ceremony today at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal. He will pay courtesy calls on President Donald Ramotar, and Caricom and CARIFORUM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque.
He will also meet with European Union member states’ diplomats and Caribbean civil society organisation representatives.
The 11th European Development Fund will cover the period 2014-2020, and it is expected that the European Union will provide its CARIFORUM partners with one billion euros (US$1.4 billion) in grants for the most vulnerable people in the Caribbean region.