The Director-General of the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, Stefano Manservisi, was in Cuba, Colombia and Haiti last week to discuss the EU’s current and future partnerships with these countries on bilateral, regional and global issues.
In Cuba, where he started his week of visits, Mr Manservisi held meetings with high-ranking political figures, including Vice-President Ricardo Cabrisas, with whom he discussed current and bilateral cooperation and joint efforts on sustainable development. He also met the deputy minister for foreign affairs, Mr Rogelio Sierra, and the deputy minister for external trade and foreign investment, Ms Ileana Núnez Mordoche. Mr Manservisi and Ms Núnez Mordoche signed three agreements providing EU funding: €7.5 million for sustainable investments in the agricultural, energy and food production sector in central Cuba; €4 million for renewables and energy efficiency in Cuba; and nearly €2 million to shore up resilience in five coastal municipalities affected by Hurricane Irma last year.
The main focal areas for EU-Cuba bilateral cooperation at present are energy, agriculture and economic modernisation. Both the EU and Cuba consider that these areas will remain pertinent in the coming years, which is why cooperation on them will intensify, thanks in part to regular sector dialogues, starting with energy in 2019. Cuba faces the challenge of being exposed to natural disasters and climate change effects, and it requires technology and know-how in key areas such as renewable energies. Culture is another area in which the EU and Cuba will work to bolster cooperation.
Mr Manservisi then travelled to Colombia. On day one of his two-day visit he met the trade, environment and agriculture ministers in the new Colombian Government and announced that €15 million would go into achieving the targets under ongoing EU budget support programmes for their ministries; the focus would be on key areas like land ownership formalisation and support for women in rural communities. More broadly, the EU and Colombia will continue building on their solid partnership to deliver on common global goals such as sustainable development and combating climate change, together with goals for the country, starting with a robust peace process. Mr Manservisi confirmed that, overall, an extra €60 million would be available for bilateral cooperation with Colombia to meet these goals.
On the following day the Director-General chaired the annual Strategic Board meeting of the EU Trust Fund (EUTF) for Colombia, under which the European Union, the Colombian Government and EU Member States work to consolidate the peace process in the country. Mr Manservisi himself has called the peace process one of the most welcome events of the century. To reaffirm its steadfast commitment to peace in Colombia, the European Union has increased the EUTF’s budget from €96 to €120 million, for projects around local development, victim support and reintegration support for ex-combatants. Some EU Member States have also pledged to increase their contributions to the EUTF. To see the reintegration process at first hand, Mr Manservisi visited a Trust Fund project supporting economic development in conflict-affected areas, with a specific component covering a reintegration zone for ex-FARC members. He also met with human rights defenders working for peace in Columbia.
To conclude his visit, Mr Manservisi spent two days in Haiti. Since the terrible earthquake in 2010, the European Union has been providing financial and technical assistance to aid Haiti’s recovery. Mr Manservisi reaffirmed the European Union’s support for Haiti in the current difficult situation and its commitment, as a major donor, to continue assisting the country’s development efforts. The European Union’s support in Haiti, the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, focuses on State and administrative reform, education, urban development and infrastructures, and food and nutritional security.
On his first day in Haiti Mr Manservisi held a number of working meetings – notably with Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant and the government ministers for foreign affairs, planning, public works, economy and finance, agriculture, education, and the environment. The talks were frank and fruitful, taking stock of current bilateral cooperation and focusing on the state of the reforms linked to the current state-building contract. They also discussed how to approach the remaining funding envelope for food and nutritional security, education and infrastructures.
On day two, together with President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti, the Director-General visited EU-funded infrastructure projects in the Nord-Est department, like work on the RN3 highway. Together they also inspected public energy and irrigation works that the Haitian state has carried out with its own resources.
DG Manservisi in Cuba (Delegation press release, Spanish)
DG Manservisi in Colombia (Colombian agency for international cooperation, Spanish)
DG Manservisi in Haiti (newspaper article, French)