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Deputy Prime Minister Attends the Sixth Summit of EU-LAC Heads of State and Government

Photo Credit: "Council of the European Union"

On 18 May 2010, the Honourable Brent Symonette, M.P., Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, represented The Bahamas at the Sixth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held in Madrid under the auspices of the Spanish Presidency of the European Union. Prior to the Summit, he represented The Bahamas at the EU-CARIFORUM Summit, the EU-LAC Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and the First Meeting of the Joint EU-CARIFORUM Council under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), all of which took place on 17 May 2010 in Madrid, Spain.

The EU-CARIFORUM Summit on 17 May 2010 was co-chaired by Senator the Honourable Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, and the President of the European Council, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy.  The two sides discussed issues concerning the strengthening of the bilateral relationship to include such issues as climate change and natural disasters that affect the Caribbean region in particular, such as the devastating earthquake that ravaged Haiti in January of this year.

In relation to the disaster in Haiti, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero reconfirmed the commitment of the EU and Spain "to lead the efforts and provide financial support for the reconstruction that has already begun".

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, announced the launch of the specific EU-CARIFORUM dialogue dedicated to climate change, as well as a bilateral summit on this issue during the second six months of this year. The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso, also took part actively in the meeting.  The Summit adopted an Outline for a Joint Caribbean-EU Partnership Strategy, which now has to be further developed.

The Inaugural meeting of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA Joint Council was also convened in Madrid on 17 May 2010.  Ministers agreed to the adoption of the Rules of Procedures of the Joint EC-CARIFORUM Council, the CARIFORUM-EC Trade and Development Committee and the Special Committees; the adoption of the Rules of Procedures for Dispute Settlement; and exchanged views on the implementation of the Agreement

The Sixth EU-LAC Summit opened with a dinner on 17 May 2010 hosted by His Royal Highness The Prince of Asturias, Felipe, son of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, at the Royal Palace in Madrid, and continued the next day with a series of meetings that culminated in the adoption of the Madrid Declaration and Action Plan, identifying areas of cooperation in the fields of energy, the environment, education, research and innovation,  and the fight against drugs - with their respective financing instruments - which will be reviewed at the Seventh Summit, to take place in Chile in 2012. The two regions promised to work together on coming out of the international economic crisis, combating climate change, designing a new international financial architecture and actively promoting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Other major achievements of the Madrid Summit were the launch of a Latin America Investment Facility and the EU-LAC Foundation.  The Latin America Investment Facility (LAIF) was launched jointly by the European Commission and the Spanish Presidency, and has been established by the European Commission to mobilise additional financing in Latin America to support investment projects by bringing together grants from the Commission with loans from European development finance institutions.

The EU-LAC Foundation will contribute to the strengthening of the EU-LAC bi-regional partnership process involving participation and inputs of civil society and other social actors to encourage further mutual knowledge, understanding and visibility between both regions.   This new institution will be financially supported by EU-LAC countries and the European Commission.  To date the host city of the Foundation has yet to be decided. The candidate cites are Hamburg (Germany), Milan (Italy) and Paris (France).

Accompanying the Deputy Prime Minister to the Madrid meetings were Mr. Frank Davis, First Secretary and Consul, Bahamas High Commission, London; and Ms. Carol Young, Assistant Economist, Ministry of Finance, Nassau.

For details on the outcomes of the Summit, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/lac/index_en.htm