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The Cook Islands comprises 15 small islands scattered over some 2 million km² of the South Pacific Ocean. Poverty levels are amongst the lowest in the region and the country is generally showing a good performance on development indicators. This keeps the Cook Islands well on track to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. However, the country's economic development is hindered by the isolation from foreign markets, the lack of natural resources, dispersed populations, the susceptibility to natural disasters and inadequate infrastructure.
The Country Strategy Paper for the Cook Islands (2008-2013) presents the strategic framework for cooperation between the European Commission (EC) and the Cook Islands under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). EC assistance will concentrate on the water and energy sector and in particular the reliable provision of water and sanitation. It is planned to support water supply projects as well as projects aiming to increase the country's wastewater treatment and sewer collection capacity to control lagoon pollution.
Additional aid will be granted for promoting regional integration and trade-related issues, such as the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The EC's total allocation foreseen for the Cook Islands under 10th EDF funding (2008-2013) amounts to €3.3 million to address these priorities.
All EU projects in the Cook Islands will also address cross-cutting issues such as democracy, good governance, human rights, the rights of children and indigenous people, gender equality, environmental sustainability and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Country Strategy Paper for the Cook Islands (2002-2007) gave priority to the development of the outer islands under 9th EDF funding. The still ongoing Outer Islands Social Development Programme (OISDP) aims to raise the standard of social services delivery in the outer islands by providing improved infrastructure, equipment and supplies as well as by ensuring adequate maintenance. The programme also provides for housing opportunities to facilitate the recruitment and training of teachers and health workers.
For further details on projects and programmes in the Cook Islands funded from the European Development Fund and the general budget of the EU, please visit the project's section of the website of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific on Fiji Island, responsible for the Cook Islands.
Other sources of information
The Directorate-General for Development is responsible for drawing up the cooperation strategy with the Cook Islands.
More information on EU relations with the Cook Islands is available on the pages of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific on Fiji Island, which is also responsible for co-operation activities in Cook Islands.
Information on trade relations in the ACP region can be found on the website of the Directorate-General for Trade.