CARIFORUM-European Union Political Dialogue at the Level of Senior Officials, 15 March 2016, Georgetown, Guyana‏

1. CARIFORUM and European Union (EU) senior officials held a one-day political dialogue in Georgetown, Guyana on 15 March 2016, at which they reaffirmed the two regions’ commitment to strengthen their longstanding partnership.

2. The Meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Sparte Odera, Advisor to the National Authorizing Officer of Haiti, on behalf of CARIFORUM, and Mr. Aldo Dell’Ariccia, Head of Division, Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Division of the European External Action Service (EEAS), on behalf of the EU.

3. As this was the first political dialogue since 2012, the two Sides welcomed the opportunity of the Meeting to have wide-ranging discussions on several aspects of their partnership. There was an in-depth exchange of views on the political and economic situation in both Regions, including issues related to migration. Updates were also received on governance and human rights issues of mutual interest. The two Sides acknowledged their shared commitment to democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law, the protection of vulnerable groups, and the advancement of gender equality. The two Sides exchanged views on the subject of Dominican citizens of Haitian descent. The Dominican Republic provided information on action it had been taking and CARICOM States expressed their continuing concern.

4. In addition, focus was placed on the implementation of the Joint Caribbean-EU Partnership Strategy, which has as its major themes: Regional Integration and Cooperation in the Wider Caribbean; Reconstruction of Haiti; Climate Change and Natural Disasters; Crime and Security; and Joint Action in Bi-regional and Multi-lateral Fora and on Global Issues. Both sides recognized the importance of consultation and cooperation within international fora, such as the United Nations. The two Sides agreed to convene the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Working Group on the Joint Strategy, with a view to keeping the Strategy under continuous review.

5. The implementation and programming of the 10th and 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP) also came up for discussion. The two Sides acknowledged that there were certain challenges in programme implementation and took note of the remedial action being taken. With respect to the 11th EDF CRIP, the two Sides recalled that it is based on the Joint Strategy. They noted that the 11th EDF CRIP, valued at €346 million, was signed in June 2015 and that it makes provisions as follows: Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration, €102.0 million; Climate Change, Disaster Management, Environment and Sustainable Energy, €61.5 million; Crime and Security, €44.0 million; Caribbean Investment Facility, €135.0 million; Technical Cooperation Facility, €3.5 million. Note was taken that the 11th EDF Programming process is in its early stages.

6. The two Sides highlighted the importance of accelerating regional integration to support developmental goals in the Caribbean and, in this regard, called for the effective implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

7. Both sides underlined their determination to advance common interests in an array of areas germane to their Partnership, including, Citizen Security and future ACP-EU Relations in the post-Cotonou period. International issues of mutual interest also commanded attention. In this regard, they reiterated their commitment to closer cooperation and joint action in the context of: the implementation of the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); addressing the vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS); Climate Change and the implementation of the conclusions of COP21; and Cooperation at the United Nations and World Trade Organization.

8. CARIFORUM expressed its deep concern that recent developments on taxation in the EU have the potential to negatively impact the economies of a number of CARIFORUM States. The EU provided an update on the European Commission’s recent Communication on an External Strategy for Effective Taxation as Part of its Anti-Tax Avoidance Package. There was agreement to discuss a range of issues affecting the financial services sector, including taxation and correspondent banking, within the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Working Group on the Joint Strategy, to provide an opportunity to exchange information and explore what actions can be carried out to avoid negative repercussions in CARIFORUM States.

9. Both sides agreed that this Meeting was crucial in preparing the ground for an anticipated political dialogue at the Ministerial level. It was agreed that more frequent high-level dialogue is essential to advance the CARIFORUM-EU Partnership.

10. CARIFORUM and the EU expressed their deep appreciation to the Government and people of Guyana for the warm hospitality, excellent arrangements and courtesies extended which greatly facilitated the fruitful deliberations of the political dialogue.

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