Our relationship with the Caribbean centres on trade, political, and development partnerships. On the development front, we are the Caribbean’s largest partner. Regarding trade, we signed the first regional Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2008 with the Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific states (CARIFORUM), and we are the CARIFORUM’s second largest trading partner.
The Caribbean is composed of 15 countries, including territories with direct links to European countries: 4 French outermost regions, and 6 Dutch, 1 French, and 5 British Overseas Territories.
In recent years, Caribbean countries have seen high growth rates, an overall reduction of extreme poverty, and human development indicators improving. Haiti remains an exception however as it recovers from a devastating earthquake (2010), although progress has been made on providing access to safe drinking water and ensuring primary education for all children.
Gradual improvement can also be noted in tourism flows and in regional integration. Nevertheless, multiple factors have restricted growth in the region: the global economic crisis, high debt levels, and weak competitiveness. Moreover, countries classified as Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the region are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The African, Caribbean, and Pacific-EU Cotonou Agreement (2000) provides the framework for our cooperation with the Caribbean. This is complimented by the CARIFORUM-EU EPA (2008) and the joint Caribbean-EU partnership strategy (2012).
Our engagement with the Caribbean reflects the diversity of each country in the region. We customise our support to the countries’ varying levels of development in reference to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Our cooperation with the Caribbean is done in a multifaceted context combining bilateral cooperation with individual countries as well as regional cooperation through the:
- Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
- Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Within the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP) under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) €346 million are allocated to the region (2014-2020). The programme puts focus on 3 areas:
- regional economic cooperation and integration
- climate change, environment, disaster management and sustainable energy
- crime and security
Our current approach to cooperation with the Caribbean has evolved based on experiences from past programmes. Equal cooperation is encouraged in which dialogue and knowledge exchanges occur.