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Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Caribbean needs awareness of a changing Europe

How well does the Caribbean relate to the European Union? In a region that still sees Europe as the source of development assistance, has not fully erased a belief in special arrangements for commodities and is dubious about the value of the Economic Partnership Agreement, there seems little awareness of the ways in which Europe is changing. Last week in Brussels the Caribbean Tourism Organisation held its annual summit. This forward-looking and positive event, attended by Ministers, Ambassadors, Caricom and the private sector, was important as it sought to focus European and Caribbean minds on the significance of the tourism industry, when it comes to shaping future EU-Cariforum policy. The dialogue covered areas as diverse as the environment, taxation, social policy, economic recovery and marketing; but what was also of interest was the way in which interlocutors on the European side demonstrated how significantly European thinking was changing. Traditionally the relationship between Europe and the Caribbean was managed through a bilateral dialogue with the European Commission’s Development Directorate or multilaterally in conjunction with the African Caribbean and Pacific group of states (the ACP). However, this began to change in the 1990s when the trade aspects of the relationship were removed to Europe’s Trade Directorate. For a while the exchanges on trade issues were sympathetic if tough. However, as the personnel changed and more importantly Europe through the Trade Directorate sought ways to end the preferential arrangements with the ACP, EC officials with little sensitivity or knowledge of former colonial relationships began to prevail. The consequence was that the link between trade and development began to attenuate.

Source: dominicantoday.com