EU adopts proposal for new Caribbean strategy

The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a new strategy for the Caribbean that will see greater support for good governance, natural disaster management and the poverty fight.

In a statement released on Thursday, the EU said it wished to shape a political partnership based on shared values to address the Carib-bean region's economic and environmental opportunities and to promote social cohesion. "What we are proposing with this new strategy is mutually beneficial partnerships for development, democracy and security," Commissioner for Develop-ment and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel was quoted as saying. He said the EU must prevent the region from drifting into political instability and help it achieve its long-term development goals in a self-sustaining manner. Michel added that the partnership would be a strong link that would help to address the important challenges of globalisation that face the region today.

It was noted that the region has embarked on a path of regional integration and economic diversification, restructuring and reform.

The commission said its strategy paper supported this development as a means of the countries of the region harnessing the opportunities of globalisation. In this context, Michel said, the commission proposes a number of concrete actions along a number of lines.

A political partnership based on shared values is one of three major dimensions of the strategy. One of its the key elements is the development of a strong partnership between the EU and the Caribbean and the strategy sees a particular focus on good governance as being a key to consolidating democracy, respect for human rights, improvements in gender equality, social cohesion, security, stability and other important areas.

"The EU will systematically support key institutions as central for achieving good governance such as parliaments, the judiciary and public financial management systems," the statement added. It said to make these institutions run efficiently the EU would also promote transparency and exchange of information to fight corruption as well as corporate and financial malpractices.

Addressing economic and environmental opportunities and vulnerabilities is the second major dimension of the strategy. The EU said that in an increasingly interdependent and globalised world, assisting developed countries to better harness the globalisation process is a major objective of the EU development policy. In order to achieve this, the EU proposes to support the regional integration efforts in the region and help to increase competitiveness, diversify exports and support the establishment of regional markets. It said the EU would also step up its trade related assistance and support small and medium size enterprises. It also said that environment and natural resources represent an important asset for the poorer part of the Caribbean. And while noting that the region faced many environmental challenges, it also promised to contribute to increasing the region's capacity in natural disaster management with a particular emphasis on risk reduction, preparedness, early warning, prevention and mitigation.

The EU also pledged support to Caribbean efforts in poverty alleviation and the improvement of sustainable basic livelihood as part of its proposals for promoting social cohesion and combating poverty. The statement said that in close cooperation with civil society, the EU would support national strategies for 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," it noted. In the area of drugs, the EU will focus on a drug-prevention policy with emphasis on education and awareness, training and support of inter-agency cooperation. It also recognised that brain drain, socio-economic alienation and weak social cohesion are realities for many in the region. As a result, it said providing the skill-base and know-how to take advantage of economic diversification would be a key EU mechanism for confronting challenges facing the region.

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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