By Alan Ah Mu
APIA: THURSDAY 4 APRIL 2013: Aid from the European Union has lifted the quality of life in Samoa.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi gave as some examples of that as improved access to water, rural schools and a rise in rural incomes.
“And I am grateful for that,” Tuilaepa said.
Tuilaepa today gave the welcoming address to representatives of EU and 14 Pacific countries gathered at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel to discuss aid for 2014 – 2020.
The Pacific countries eligible for EU aid are members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states.
EU delivers aid to the 14 Pacific-ACP countries through the European Development Fund (EDF).
The 14 Pacific ACP countries present in Samoa include Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Over today and tomorrow they meet with European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, to discuss the EU bilateral development cooperation covering the period 2014-2020.
Over the last 20 years EU has provided a substantial programme of financial and technical co-operation: some €1,330 million has already been transferred to the P-ACP countries and OCTs, amounting to one quarter of all assistance.
In 2008-2013 a total of €785 million in national and regional development funding have been allocated to the Pacific region.
It was for supporting national initiatives in energy, water and sanitation and rural development.
All together the 15 PACP countries (including Timor Leste) benefited from an EDF bilateral assistance of €400 million in addition to the other streams of funds (more than €350 million).
Human rights, education, the environment, climate change, energy efficiency, water and sanitation and trade remain the European Union’s main areas of focus in the Pacific, aiming to better the livelihoods of its 10 million inhabitants.
Among others, it provides €100 million for energy in the Pacific, which is expected to directly benefit 100,000 people.
“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 Commissioner Piebalgs.
“It is my intention to engage in a broader debate on development cooperation in a post-2015 framework (post-Millennium Development Goals) whose relevance for both the Pacific and the EU is unquestionable”.
The two-day consultative meeting (4-5 April) starts with a joint debate on topics of common interest, including new EU policies and initiatives regarding future development cooperation, the priorities for the Region, the revision of the Pacific Plan as well as the complementarity with other development partners activities. The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Regional Authorising Officer for the EDF, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, will join Commissioner Piebalgs for the presentations and the open discussion that followed.
Since the Lomé I Convention in 1975 the European Union and the Pacific countries have forged a strong and lasting partnership on the basis of jointly identified mutual and complementary interests and benefits, signifying a continued engagement between the regions and its people.
For the Pacific the EU made available €785 million from 2008 to 2013, targeting in particular climate change and energy efficiency.
Additionally, the EU is providing €1.8 million to fund humanitarian assistance to communities affected by Tropical Cyclone Evan.
The EU is committed to strengthening the cooperation with the Pacific on a range of important issues such as climate change, human rights, democracy, good governance, poverty eradication and sustainable development.
The EDF is the main instrument for delivering EU development funding under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States. Each EDF is concluded for a multi-annual period.
The 11th EDF will cover the period 2014-2020.
Apart from bilateral development cooperation the Pacific regional programme is an important part of EU development cooperation with the Pacific.
The €114 million allocated under the 10th EDF support projects aiming at strengthening the regional economic integration (€59 million) and the sustainable management of natural resources and environment (€45 million).
Other EU funds (€10 million) add up to this covering cross-sectoral support, in particular in the field of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.
The European Union is made up of 27 Member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies.
Together, during a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms.
The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders.”
The European Commission is the EU’s executive body.