Strategy to strengthen partnership with Pacific
30 May 2006
European Commission proposes strategy to strengthen partnership with the Pacific islands
The European Commission yesterday adopted a proposal to deepen the EU’s relations with the Pacific Islands, in particular the 15 Pacific ACP countries(1). This is the first formal strategy in 30 years of EU-Pacific relations, and it aims to strengthen political dialogue, provide greater focus to development cooperation and improve the effectiveness of aid delivery. The Commission’s proposal reflects the growing environmental, political and economic importance of the Pacific region.
Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, said, ”The Commission’s proposed strategy for a stronger partnership with the Pacific region will strengthen political dialogue and focus development cooperation on sustainable management of natural resources. It will reinforce our solidarity and consolidate a partnership for sustainable development that will help to reduce poverty, in a region threatened by climate change, poverty and weak governance.”
The strategy makes three main proposals:
i Building stronger political relations on interests of common concern such as global political security, trade, economic and social development and the environment;
ii Focusing development cooperation on areas where the Pacific has important needs and where the EU has a comparative advantage and a good track record, such as the sustainable management of natural resources, regional cooperation and good governance (for example, addressing the root causes of instability in the region, reducing corruption);
iii Increasing the efficiency of aid delivery including using more direct budgetary aid and working more closely with other partners, in particular Australia and New Zealand.
The region’s political and economic importance continues to grow due to increasing demand for its substantial natural resources (fish, timber, minerals, oil, gas). The proposed EU strategy takes this into account by focusing on sound management and protection of the environment, crucial to prosperity of the Pacific region.
The region is home to one of the largest remaining tracts of tropical forests in the world. The EU’s aid will help the islands preserve the biodiversity of their forests and fish, deal with the consequences of climate change, and develop disaster preparedness programmes.
The four territories in the Pacific of EU member states (New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna and Pitcairn) represent a valuable and important European presence in the region. The strategy will bring the EU’s relationship with the Pacific in line with the new EU development policy statement, adopted by the EU institutions in December 2005, and the revised Cotonou Agreement of 2005. It will also help turn the EU’s commitments on aid effectiveness into practice in this particular region.
(1) Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.