- Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on Thursday (June 11) ended her participation in a two-day summit of Heads of State and Government of the 28-member European Union (EU) and the 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
- The EU is the leading foreign investor in the CELAC region and is its second largest trade partner.
- The Prime Minister also convened a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy Brey on Thursday and also held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Lofven on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on Thursday (June 11) ended her participation in a two-day summit of Heads of State and Government of the 28-member European Union (EU) and the 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).The EU is the leading foreign investor in the CELAC region and is its second largest trade partner. The summit was held under the joint presidency of the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk; President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker; and Pro Tempore President of CELAC, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador.
In the final engagement over the two days, the Prime Minister led the Jamaican delegation in a meeting between the EU and the CARIFORUM group of countries on Thursday afternoon. CARIFORUM includes 14 member states of the 15-member Caribbean Community and the Dominican Republic.
On Thursday morning, the EU and CELAC leaders met at a retreat to discuss international issues and developments. At the retreat Prime Minister Simpson Miller spoke about some of the major issues of concern to Jamaica. These included the need for greater levels of development financing for developing countries within the framework of the Post 2015 Development Agenda, as well as practical on-the-ground programmes to prevent and respond to the effects of climate change. Prime Minister Simpson Miller also pressed for changes to be made to the existing classification of some developing countries as “middle income” thus locking them out of the possibility for greater levels of funding for development and other economic support.
The Prime Minister also convened a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy Brey on Thursday and also held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Lofven on Wednesday. The bilateral meetings reviewed several areas of cooperation between Jamaica and the two EU countries and identified additional areas of cooperation to be pursued.
Technology transfer, agriculture and agro-processing formed a major part of the talks with Spain. In addition to exchanging views on financing for the development, and the commitment of Jamaica and Sweden to programmes for the mitigation of the effects of climate change, Prime Ministers Simpson Miller and Lofven spoke of the commitment of their governments to prudent macro-economic management, trade and investment facilitation, employment creation, gender equality, the protection of children and social programmes for the most vulnerable segments of their populations.
Two plenary sessions of the EU-CELAC summit on Wednesday, chaired by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, explored ways to reinvigorate the bi-regional partnership between the EU and CELAC countries and addressed the different challenges faced by both groups and how they could increase bi-regional cooperation to address them. These challenges were identified as including climate change, security, drug trafficking and issues pertaining to the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
The outcome of the meeting include a joint agreement for increased cooperation in several areas such as migration, the fight against illicit drugs, poverty reduction and climate change, as well as a restatement of the EU’s support for CELAC countries.
The European Commission also announced over 800 million Euros in support to the Caribbean and Latin American region. This includes 346 million Euros in funding for programmes in the Caribbean up to 2020. The Commission said that over the period there will be an EU contribution of 118 million Euros for strategic investment projects, 230 million Euros to support the efforts towards the sustainable development of Latin America and the Caribbean, 81.5 million Euros to finance capacity building projects linking European and Latin American higher education institutions, and around 25 million Euros for a new fibre-optic cable connecting Europe and Latin America.
The summit received reports from the Seventh CELAC-EU Trade Unions Forum and the Eighth Meeting of CELAC-EU Civil Society held in March this year; as well as the Youth Forum held in April and the First Forum of Mayors, which was held on June 4. Reports were also received from the EU-CELAC Academic Summit held June 8 to 9 and an EU-CELAC Business Summit on June 10.
European Union assistance to the Caribbean countries is mainly channeled through the European Development Fund (EDF). European Union Commission publications have noted that for the period 2014 to 2020, the overall allocation from the EDF to the Caribbean was projected at around one billion Euros, focused largely on projects in renewable energy, health, competitive economy, climate change and public administration reform including public finance and justice.
The EU is the main source of grant funding to Jamaica and last year the EU allocated 46 Million Euros in development assistance to Jamaica under the 11th EDF. Jamaica has had a longstanding relationship with the EU spanning 40 years. Over this period, the EU is reported to have contributed an estimated J$170 billion in development assistance to Jamaica for projects and programmes covering a wide range of areas. These areas include education, agriculture, security, justice reform, public financial management, tax reform, small business development, poverty alleviation, youth and Community development, rural development, physical infrastructure and climate change.
Some specific programmes in recent times have included the Sugar Transformation Programme, the J$1.7 Billion Sugar Estates Barracks Relocation Project, the Banana Support Programme and construction of the North-Coast Highway.