Author: ECS Caribbean Mission | Date: 28 July 2011
Efforts have begun in Brussels and Belgium by the Mission of Eastern Caribbean States to ensure that the European Union's broader development agenda reflects the specific structural vulnerabilities of Caribbean small island development states (SIDS).
These vulnerabilities include susceptibility to regularly occurring natural disasters resulting from environmental degradation and climate change, limited economies of scale, geographical remoteness as well limitations on natural, human and technical resource bases and attendant high indebtedness, said ambassador of the Eastern Caribbean States, Shirley Skerritt-Andrew of St Kitts and Nevis.
Permanent delegate of St Kitts and Nevis to UNESCO, Dr David Doyle, hosted key Members of the European Parliament (MEP) and representatives of international organisations at a luncheon discussion.
It was held at the European Parliament under the theme The Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean: Addressing Vulnerability and Volatility through EU Expertise and Funding.
Participants agreed that, in light of the expanding role of the European Parliament in the post Lisbon Treaty EU decision-making process, it is becoming increasingly important that MEPs understand the Caribbean states and advocate on their behalf within the EU, particularly the very vulnerable member states of the OECS sub-region.
The initiative was welcomed by Caribbean ambassadors accredited to the European Union, the secretary general of the ACP Secretariat, the UNESCO representative to the EU, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and leading development policy Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) including Gay Mitchell, Brian Simpson, Ivo Vajgli, Patrice Tirolien, Frank Engel, David Martin, Maurice Ponga, and Peter Stastny.
Furthermore, reference to small island states in the 2nd Revision of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement and efforts at the United Nations and the Commonwealth, make it of paramount importance that EU policies be reoriented toward the idea that, despite the positive achievements of the Caribbean, special attention must be paid to the specific developmental challenges so as not to retard or reverse progress toward sustainable development. Some MEPs mooted the idea of conducting follow up fact finding missions to further their understanding of the region.
In that regard, many MEPs underscored the relevance of the exercise and congratulated Skerritt-Andrew and her team for the initiative undertaken. The ECS Mission hopes to build on this momentum to ensure that the sub-region's interests are consistently advanced.
The ECS Mission in Brussels represents the interest of the OECS member states of Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines to Belgium and the European Union.
To learn more about the work of the Mission, visit its website at http://oecs.org/ecs-mission-in-brussels