The European Union and CARIFORUM met for the first CARIFORUM-EU Political Dialogue at Kingston, Jamaica, to discuss issues of interest and relevance to both parties within the framework of the upcoming EU-CARIFORUM Summit to take place in Madrid on 17 May 2010.

The European Union delegation was led by the current Spanish Presidency, acting on behalf of the High Representative, in the person of Secretary of State for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, His Excellency Juan Pablo de Laiglesia. The CARIFORUM delegation was led by the Honourable Dr David Estwick, Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce of Barbados, and included the Honourable Dr. Kenneth Baugh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica and His Excellency, Edwin Carrington, Secretary General of CARIFORUM.

This political dialogue represents the determination of both Parties to enhance the relations currently existing between the two regions. It is in keeping with the Lima Declaration of 17th May 2008 which agreed to the establishment of mechanisms for a structured and comprehensive political dialogue. It is also complemented by the provisions of Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and comes within the context of a long standing and fruitful partnership which has evolved through the years between both regions. The EU and CARIFORUM have recognised the need to intensify the relationship and look forward to a successful outcome of the Summit in Madrid.

It is yet another symbol of the decision on the part of the European Union and the member countries of CARIFORUM to strengthen a stable relationship, based on partnership and common values of respect for democracy, the rule of law and for human rights for all, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, as well as the promotion of sustainable development for their citizens. It also expresses the desire for a far reaching partnership based on mutual cooperation in a variety of areas. Several other preparatory meetings are being held, including the Seminar on the Joint Caribbean – EU Strategy in Barbados, which took place 4 – 5 March 2010 and the first the EPA Council to take place in the near future.

Both Parties exchanged views on forthcoming political events, specifically the upcoming EU-CARIFORUM Summit and the wider EU-LAC Summit in Madrid.

There was a fruitful exchange of views on hemispheric issues related to Latin America and the Caribbean and the growing cooperation taking place between CARIFORUM countries and hemispheric neighbours, specifically the Rio Group, the Latin American and Caribbean Integration Development Process (CALC), UNASUR and the Latin American Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA).

The European Union informed of the initiatives being sponsored with respect to human rights and specifically the moratorium on the death penalty and the International Criminal Court. The CARIFORUM delegation recalled the position of Member States at International fora on the death penalty and International Criminal Court. The CARIFORUM delegates advised their European Union partners of the challenges being faced by the region with respect to security matters, especially the challenges confronted with problems such as drug trafficking and the trade in small arms among other issues.

Other challenges facing the Caribbean were discussed and special mention was made of the global financial crisis, regional food security, the high dependence on energy and problems related to climate change and natural disasters. In this context the idea was mooted to hold a bi-regional EU- CARIFORUM conference on climate change ahead of COP 16 in Cancun. The European Union expressed its willingness to work closely with partners to find common ground and to provide assistance to the Caribbean region.

Both sides exchanged views on the operationalisation of an effective EU-Caribbean strategy which included an analysis of the implications of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and the relations with the European Union. The CARIFORUM delegation provided an update on the integration process and the steps towards sustainable economic development for which the European Union committed its full support. It was agreed that this political dialogue and other preparatory activities are the right steps to other global events with the aim of establishing a wider Caribbean-European Union strategy that will be drafted jointly and for which an outline will be presented to the Heads of State and of Government at the Summit in Madrid.

The Parties also discussed the situation in Haiti and recorded the immediate support of the countries of the Caribbean as well as of the European Union to one of the CARIFORUM Member States that had suffered so gravely from the effects of the January 12 earthquake. The European Union outlined the efforts it had undertaken, the prompt response from its Member States and their participation in the process towards strong governance and a viable reconstruction programme. The meeting highlighted the need for the Government of Haiti to play the lead role in reconstruction. Furthermore, both Parties discussed the possibility of working jointly to ensure Haiti’s development in the near future. In addition, both Parties approved a Declaration in support of the Government and people of Haiti in its recovery and reconstruction process. The Declaration is attached In conclusion, CARIFORUM and EU expressed appreciation to the Government and people of Jamaica for the excellent organization which made the meeting a success.

EU CARIFORUM Senior Officials Meeting on Political Dialogue

– CARIFORUM and the European Union, in the context of the High Level CARIFORUM EU Meeting held in Kingston, Jamaica on 23rd March 2010, exchanged views on the Reconstruction and Institutional Support for Haiti.

– Both sides also agreed that the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Haiti would also receive primary focus on the agenda of the CARIFORUM–EU Summit to be held in Madrid, Spain in May 2010.

– Both sides agreed on the need for further cooperation between CARIFORUM and the EU and recognized that there is tangible assistance that is still necessary in the short, medium and long term to shore up the courageous attempts being made by Haiti to cope with the devastation caused by the earthquake of 12th January 2010. In this regard, both sides looked forward to broad participation in the International Donor Conference scheduled to be held in New York on 31st March 2010 where it is anticipated that the Strategic Plan for the Reconstruction of Haiti will be presented and pledges will be made.

– Both sides recognized that the strategy and programmes for Haiti’s reconstruction must take into account, in accordance with the universally recognized principles of ownership, efficiency and aid effectiveness, the vision and priorities of the Government of Haiti, in accordance with respect for the sovereignty of Haiti and the dignity of the Haitian people.

– They encouraged the continued support of CARIFORUM, the EU and the international community as a whole in the recovery and reconstruction efforts that are ongoing in Haiti in order to achieve stability, long-term security and sustainable development in that country.

– They noted that the response of the International Community, and particularly that of the Latin American and Caribbean countries and that of the EU, has been commendable. They recognised that the great challenge is to sustain the effort of reconstruction in the medium to long run, in collaboration with all actors who are contributing to Haiti’s sustainable development in a spirit of solidarity and goodwill.

Council of the European Council