Wednesday, 25 September 2013

CARIFORUM concerned about new EU aid policies

THE methods employed by the European Union to “graduate” countries within the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Block is causing some knocking of heads between the two trading partners.

Speaking in Guyana last week at the opening ceremony of the 11th European Development Fund Programming Seminar, Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States (CARIFORUM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, pointed to the principles of differentiation and graduation from access to grant resources as a bone of contention in an otherwise “meaningful and mature relationship with the EU”.

The EU has maintained that any application of the differentiation to ACP-EU co-operation provided would go hand in hand with a consultative approach, in keeping with the spirit of the Cotonou Agreement.

In a policy proposal entitled “Agenda for Change”, which was endorsed by EU Members of Development Corporation back in May 2012, the need to strengthen differentiation – not a new concept in the ACP-EU relationship – was highlighted. That proposal cited the need for using a varying mix of policies and instruments across the countries and regions; differentiating the level of assistance provided
according to country needs, capacity, country commitments and performance and potential impact; and also differentiating a country or region’s eligibility to accessing that assistance. The EU has acknowledged that Differentiation will “unmistakably affect ACP-EU development co-operation more so going forward than it has done in the past”, according to a White Paper published by the European Centre for Development Policy Management.

Ambassador LaRocque contended last week that certain criteria which the EU was proposing to use in order to determine a country’s level of development did not always paint a true picture of what was taking place on the ground.

“The use of per capita income to determine a country’s level of development and its need for grant and concessional financing, does not provide the true picture. Per capita income is, at best, an arithmetic ratio that does not address levels of poverty, distribution of income, levels of indebtedness, vulnerability
and the capacity to self-generate sustainable economic and social development,” the Ambassador pointed out.

He signalled the Caribbean’s continued willingness to discuss the policies in question with the EU and added that we hoped to be able to do so particularly within the context of SIDS and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

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