Today, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, attended the 16th Overseas Countries and Territories - European Union (OCT-EU) Forum in Brussels. During the Forum, Commissioner Mimica launched seven new programmes worth EUR 103 million with high-level representatives of twenty five Overseas Countries and Territories.
At the forum, Commissioner Mimica reaffirmed the importance of the association between the European Union and Overseas Countries and Territories: "We may be far apart, but the partnership between the EU and the Overseas Countries and Territories is very strong and will continue to grow in the future. These programmes will benefit people in some of the remotest corners of our world, from the Poles to the Tropics. By better connecting them to the global economy, while preserving precious resources, this EUR 103 million will help to ensure that together we leave no one behind."
Programmes agreed today include: The digital telecommunications sectors of Saint Helena (EUR 21.5 million) and Wallis & Futuna (EUR 19.6 million) will be supported in order to reduce the isolation of local populations on these islands. The programme supporting Montserrat (EUR 18.4 million) will target the sustainable economic development of the island as a whole. Pitcairn’s programme (EUR 2.4 million) is focusing on tourism, the main economic driver of the island.
Two regional programmes benefit Overseas Countries and Territories in the Pacific Ocean (EUR 36 million) and in the Indian Ocean (EUR 4 million). Both programmes address the preservation of biodiversity – a sector of strategic importance, given that the EU's outermost regions and Overseas Countries and Territories hold 80% of the European Union's biodiversity. The scope of the Pacific programme is broader and encompasses several other environmental dimensions.
A programme will also be launched with the Prime Minister of Turks and Caicos in her capacity as chair of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (EUR 1.1 million).
Twenty-five Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), located around four of the world's oceans, are associated with the European Union. The association between the OCTs and the EU promotes the economic and social development of the countries and territories and seeks to establish close economic relations between them and the European Union. Thanks to this association OCTs receive financial support from the European Union through the European Development Fund (EDF) and/or the European Union's general budget.