(CMC) The European Union says while it is moving to reform its relationship with the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries it is also necessary for there to be a new paradigm regarding its investments at the regional level.
The Barbados-based EU Ambassador to CARIFORUM, Daniela Tramacere, said it was important now for the investments at the regional level resonate at the national level.
“Indeed, national ownership is the single most important ingredient in regional integration. To reword an old maxim, in this new world paradigm you need to strategise globally, think regionally, and act locally. Be assured that in this new normal the EU will always stand with you,” she told delegates attending a workshop dedicated to the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Standby Facilities financed by the EU under the Caribbean Regional Programme.
The two-day workshop ends later on Friday.
The EU diplomat noted that an independent appraisal of the CSME commissioned by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments a few years ago confirmed that the limited administrative capacity at the national level was a hindrance to capitalising on the benefits of the CSME that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the 15-member regional grouping.
The CSME is regarded by regional governments as the Caribbean’s response to a changing global environment characterised by the loss of preferential treatment for the goods and services on the international market and Tramacere said the outcome of the appraisal was the establishment of the CSME Standby Facility dedicated to interventions at the national level; with a complementary facility being established for the Economic Partnership Agreement.
“This approach recognises that whereas the European Union (EU) and CARIFORUM/CARICOM are committed to the implementation of the CSME and EPA, we both acknowledge that final responsibility for implementation, ownership, and sustainability must lie with the CARIFORUM member states.
“Further, I must underscore that we see the EPA and CSME as two interrelated dimensions of the region’s integration thrust. This interconnectedness of the EPA and CSME is further evidenced by the similarity of the support areas under the respective standby facilities.”
She said these included support to quality infrastructures; improved market penetration through export readiness and establishing contacts between retailers and producers; and strengthening of accreditation and certification systems for greater opportunities for citizens working in a CARIFORUM member state other than their home country.
“As we continue to transform our relationship with the region from one of donor-recipient to one of mature partners in development, it will become increasingly important that our investments at the regional level through CARICOM, CARIFORUM, or organisations such as CROSQ and Caribbean Export, resonate at the national level.
The diplomat told the delegates that they should use the event “as an unfiltered lens for determining whether the facilities were the right tools for the job of member states in their efforts.
“If not, you should also provide practical solutions as to what might be better tools, or if we need to change the job description,” she said, urging them to get beyond the rhetoric to address various pertinent questions including did the facilities work as the right vehicle for support at the national level and what can be done differently.
Tramacere said that over the past decade, the EU has invested approximately EUR 37 million (One EURO=US$1.29 cents) in support of the CSME and another EUR 46.5 million to support EPA implementation.
“As we move into the 11th EDF (European Development Fund), it is imperative that our continued support is premised on demonstrated utility, efficiency, and value-for-money from our previous investments. This is not only a requirement of our EU taxpayers, but a commitment to the citizens of the Caribbean,” she told the workshop.