**The Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham
Prime Minister of the Bahamas**
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was a delegate – one of 60 Heads of State and Government from the EU Member States, Latin America and the Caribbean – at the European Union/Latin American and the Caribbean (EU/LAC) Summit held in Lima, Peru this past weekend. While in Lima, the Prime Minister addressed participants in a CARIFORUM-EU Summit on “Promoting a Sustainable EU-Caribbean Partnership.”
The Prime Minister, who is the current chairman of the CARICOM CARIFORUM, acknowledged with thanks the opportunity to offer views on the development of a sustainable relationship between the EU and the CARIFORUM countries.
Notwithstanding the long and historical importance of the relationship, he noted the lack of consistency of European focus on the Caribbean. *”Now we are looking forward to the development of a new, mature and sustainable relationship, one that is focused and constructive, characterized by strengthened and enhanced cooperation and dialogue.”*
He acknowledged, however, that the relationship still is in transition with the move away from an era of preferential trading arrangements as expressed by the trade component of the ACP-EC Cotonou Agreement to a more mature arrangement in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which will guide future CARIFORUM-EU relations. *”This new relationship of reciprocity in trade, with its inclusion of a focus on trade in services and investments, offers the possibility for cooperation in new and innovative areas.”*
Prime Minister Ingraham pointed to the issues discussed within the larger EU-LAC process (see link to the Summit’s Communiqué below), acknowledging a number of specific issues/areas in which enhanced cooperation is possible: Climate Change, Food Security, Political Dialogue, Regional Integration, and addressing Vulnerabilities and Social Issues. These, he said, reflect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the maturing relationship between the EU and the CARIFORUM. *”It cannot be overstated that focused attention needs to be paid to the EU-Caribbean relationship in all of its aspects and that programmes of cooperation and dialogue should be fully explored and enhanced.”*
Also emphasized was the importance of EU support for the development of CARIFORUM competitiveness and production capacities. He said a productive, competitive Caribbean will be far better placed to take advantage of the opportunities which may be derived from the Cotonou and the EPA and hence prove to be a far more reliable partner to the EU.
In conclusion, the Prime Minister reiterated that a mutually beneficial relationship is clearly the only basis upon which to build and maintain a sustainable EU-Cariforum relationship, and said towards this end, *”We propose the establishment of a CARIFORUM/EU Political Forum.”*
The European Union says its overall objective for the Summit was to reiterate the great importance of the European Union’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), to underline the genuine mutual interests of the regions and to demonstrate the continuing commitment to strengthening the EU-LAC Strategic Partnership.
The Lima Summit provided another important opportunity for political dialogue at the highest level in order to address major challenges in a frank and open way and to assess recent developments in both regions. It was also an occasion to give more visibility to the extensive cooperation between both partners, and to analyze the action and policies undertaken within the framework of the EU-LAC Strategic Partnership.