The fate of the European Union’s future aid support for Pacific has been sealed in a recent leadership meeting between the two regions.
High-level officials from Pacific ACP countries and the European Union met last week in Apia, Samoa to cement the regions’ bilateral development cooperation under the framework of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) from 2014 to 2020.
The meeting has catalyzed EU’s extended support for each of the Pacific island states, as the 10th EDF covering 2008 to 2013 expires this year.
A representative from the EU Delegation for the Pacific told Devex that the event marks an important step in the programming of the EU’s next funding cycle.
“You can rest assured that [the] EU will continue supporting the Pacific in the 11th EDF,” said the EU official.While the amount of funding is yet to be decided as the EU budget is negotiated in Brussels, European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs remarked at the event that he expects the level of the next funding cycle to at least match the €785 million ($1.01 billion) in recieved during the past five years by national and regional development funding by 14 Pacific countries. The areas of focus included energy, water and sanitation, and rural development.
On the kind of assistance to be supplied, the official said the priorities and the areas of intervention will be decided jointly with the partner countries.
“That said, during the meeting there was a lot of interest from the Pacific countries on cooperation in the fields of energy and sustainable development,” he added.
The event led to the signing of a new financing agreement between the EU and Pacific countries to improve the latter’s access to water and sanitation, both targets of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for 2015.
The two-day consultative meeting kicked off with a joint debate on EU’s upcoming policies and initiatives on development cooperation and regional priorities.
Piebalgs and Tuiloma Neroni Slade, secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and regional authorizing officer for the EDF, led the presentations and open discussions during the meeting in Apia.
“I am eager to hear views on how to make EU-Pacific cooperation even more effective, including the concrete results that partner countries want to achieve with the support of the EU,” said Piebalgs, commenting on the event. “It is my intention to engage in a broader debate on development cooperation in a post-2015 framework whose relevance for both the Pacific and the EU is unquestionable.”
The 14 Pacific ACP countries represented in the meeting were the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
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