Forum SG welcomes European Union’s ongoing commitment, support for Pacific: Opening remarks at the EDF-11’s 5th regional steering committee Pacific meeting.

Opening remarks by Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor, Co-Chair

5TH MEETING OF THE REGIONAL STEERING COMMITTEE FOR THE PACIFIC,

FOR THE 11TH EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT FUND (EDF) PACIFIC REGIONAL INDICATIVE PROGRAMME

His Excellency Sujiro Seam, Representative of the European Union to the Pacific,  Mr Jean-Louis Ville, Director East, South-East Asia and the Pacific,  Representatives of the Pacific ACP Member States, Representatives of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific,  Implementing Agencies of the 11th European Development Fund Regional Indicative Programme

Ladies and Gentlemen

We meet on this occasion in such unprecedented circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed reframed our priorities and how we work together as a nation; as a region; and in partnership with our development partners, to deliver individually for our economies and collectively for our region.

I take this opportunity to sincerely acknowledge the ongoing commitment and partnership of the European Union in supporting our region in the advancement of our regional priorities.  Development partnerships are never truly seamless and require the concerted effort of all parties to jointly work together to identify priorities and progress implementation effectively.

To that end, I am very pleased with the evolution of the Pacific – EU partnership as compared to when I first began my tenure as Secretary General 6 years ago. I welcome the willingness and commitment of the EU to continue to work with the region in support of our regional priorities and mechanisms.
I will be frank and acknowledge that yes there continues to be challenges, particularly as it relates to the stringency of EU programming rules and regulations, however, I will also be honest and commend the strides that we have made together with the EU through its Pacific Delegation Office to work together to ensure the success of this programme in our region.

This annual meeting is an opportunity for us to collectively take stock of the progress we have made on implementing and working towards the objectives that we set out under the Regional Indicative Programme for the 11th European Development Fund. I acknowledge also the support of the implementing agencies: our CROP family, the development partners and multilateral institutions who work together to realise the objectives of our Regional Indicative Programme.

This meeting is also an opportune time to discuss the progress of the Post Cotonou Negotiations and its implications on this development relationship moving forward.

Indeed, this will form the substantive portion of our discussions this evening and I encourage the Pacific ACP Member States, in particular, to utilise the availability of our Brussels based EU colleagues to clarify the contours and expectations of our development cooperation relationship moving forward.

Excellencies, Colleagues, COVID-19 has placed us in unchartered waters and the only way we will navigate the impacts of COVID-19 successfully is if we do so together – I cannot overemphasise enough the importance of strong regional and international collaboration and coordination. It will require of us flexibility and astuteness in how we manage and prioritise the implementation of our activities – to that end, I am very pleased to acknowledge the recent reprioritisation of Euro 22 million to support the Pacific region’s preparedness against COVID-19, including the response capacities of countries with fragile health care systems.

Excellencies, Colleagues, with those few words, I wish us all well in our deliberations this evening and tomorrow afternoon.  I thank you.–ENDS

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