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EU Relations with Saint Helena

St Helena and Dependencies is a British OCT situated in the South Atlantic. This isolated OCT comprises St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. Its capital is Jamestown. St Helena has a population of around 4,543 in 2007 and Ascension Island of around 1010.


Fishing, raising livestock, and the sales of handicrafts are central to the islands' economy. Per capita GNP is estimated at £ 3.180 for 2003-2004. The territory has few natural resources. The economy depends largely on financial assistance from the UK which amount to about $ 27 M in FY06/07 or almost 70% of annual budgetary revenues. Per capita GNP is estimated at £ 3.180 for 2003-2004. The main export goods are fish (frozen, canned, and salt-dried skipjack, tuna), coffee, and handicrafts. St Helena’s main export partners are the US, Tanzania, Indonesia, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland and Spain. Due to limited jobs on St. Helena, 25% of the work force left the island to seek employment on Ascension Island, on the Falklands, and in the UK. This has a negative impact on the economy. The ability of the Ascension Island Government to finance the provision of essential public services is rather limited and Tristan da Cunha has financed an annual budget deficit from diminishing reserves, which has resulted in a drop in investments and earnings. In view of the MDGs, the social situation on St Helena and Dependencies is positive and there is no evidence of absolute poverty as internationally defined. However, a number of factors must be taken into account: the heavy dependence on financial assistance; the social impact of outward migration; the existence of relative poverty; high disaster vulnerability.

Political background

The UK remains responsible for foreign affairs, defence, internal security, the public service and the offshore financial sector. In other areas, executive power is exercised at island level. The Governor and Commander in Chief of St Helena and Dependencies is Michael Clancy. There are no political parties on the islands. A general election was held on St Helena in August 2005 and on Ascension in November 2005. The next general elections are due by 2009.

Some minor changes in St Helena's political system have been made in order to enhance the authority and accountability of politicians, but - following a public consultation process - major constitutional changes have not taken place.

External and regional environment

The isolation of St Helena and Dependencies and the fact that the islands are not located in an ACP region complicate regional integration and cooperation. Despite its isolation, St Helena & Dependencies has however shown interest in the regional integration process and has, for example, sought commercial relations with Namibia.

Relations with the EU

The focal area under the 9th EDF is the development of infrastructure, to improve access to the islands in order to facilitate economic growth. € 17,794,290, i.e. the 9th EDF territorial allocation of € 8.6 M and € 7.14 M of transfers from previous EDFs and € 2.2 M from the MTR, is allocated as sector policy support.

Under the 10th EDF St. Helena will receive € 15.5 M.

Last update: 17/02/2012 | Top