European Union (EU) Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs on Thursday announced a one billion Euro grant package for the Caribbean.
Addressing the opening of a two-day programming seminar for the Caribbean being held in Guyana, Piebalgs said the EU wants to use some of the funds to tackle rising crime and help in the reconstruction of Haiti which continues to suffer from hurricanes and an earthquake in recent years.
“Security, in my opinion, is very much related to the fight against drugs because that is an enormous potential of money and lawlessness and as the countries are relatively small, it is extremely difficult to fight global crimes,” he said.
Experts say the Caribbean is a transit-point for South American cocaine to North America and Europe, contributing to the proliferation of guns and the emergence of youth gangs.
Funds would also be spent on climate change and energy to build resilience against exogenous shocks.
The EU Commissioner said the emphasis would be on predictability and delivery of results for bilateral and regional projects. “We are not disengaging but we are trying actually to focus more on quality in a more strategic approach with you,” he said.
He said some of the grant funds would be used to “scale up cooperation efforts with Haiti, which is continuing its struggle towards reconstruction and against poverty.”
Aimed at ensuring that there is value for money, Piebalgs hopes to that the Caribbean Investment Facility can be used to work with investment banks to blend loans with grants and mobilize sufficient resources for larger-scale infrastructure projects.
Secretary General of the 15-nation Caribbean Forum of the former European colonies in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific, Irwin La Rocque hoped that the Regional Programme for the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) would be based on several areas that have been previously identified.
He also expected that the distribution of the funds between and within those areas would reflect the Caribbean’s regional and national priorities in keeping with the CARIFORUM/ EU Joint Strategy
The areas include strengthening regional integration and cooperation processes; implementation of the Caricom Single Market and Economy and the Economic Union of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, effective implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement, development of enterprise through private sector development, energy, education and skills development, and Food and Nutrition Security.
The CARIFORUM/EU Joint Strategy, endorsed by the European and CARIFORUM Council of Ministers, provides that “the guiding principles for the Joint Strategy are joint ownership, mutual accountability, solidarity, co-management and co-responsibility
Other themes cover the reconstruction and institutional support to Haiti; Climate Change and natural disasters, and Crime and Security.