By Benjamin Flowers
The European Union (EU) has more than doubled the amount of regional funding for the Caribbean.
EU High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, signed a new regional funding program, valued at €346 million (US $396.1 million). The new program increased the available amount from €165 million and will run to 2020.
The funds form a part of the EU’s overall support package given to Latin America and the Caribbean, valued at €700 million. The proposal for the increase was presented at the EUCELAC Heads of State and Government Summit (June 10-11) and the EU-CELAC Business Summit.
The Caribbean funds are targeted at addressing regional challenges in three main areas already identified as priorities in the 2012 Joint Caribbean-EU partnership strategy.
Those areas are: Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration, which will receive €102 million; Climate Change, Environment, Disaster Management and Sustainable Energy – €61.5 million; Crime and Security – €44 million; and €135 million will be allocated to the Caribbean Investment Facility (CIF), which will be used to blend grant resources with additional funding from European and regional finance institutions in the private sector to facilitate mobilizing much needed infrastructural investment.
“With this new funding, we want to further strengthen our common efforts towards more inclusive and sustainable development and prosperity, and will continue to stand by the side of the Caribbean people to continue to develop our excellent, mutually beneficial partnership, based on respect and common values”, Mogherini said.
According to the Ministry of Economic Development, the EU is the largest source of grant funding in Belize.