EU relations with Caribbean countries are based on political relations, trade and development funding at both national and regional levels. The ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement in 2000, signed by 15 Caribbean nations, is the framework for cooperation. It is complemented by the 2008 Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with CARIFORUM (the Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States) and the 2012 Joint Caribbean EU Partnership Strategy. The Caribbean region also includes 16 territories with direct links to EU member states (four French 'outermost regions'; and 12 'overseas territories'– five British, six Dutch and one French territory).
Human development indicators have improved in all Caribbean countries except Haiti, which suffered a devastating earthquake in January 2010. The Caribbean has had relatively high growth rates, with several countries improving income distribution, raising per capita social public expenditures and applying macroeconomic policies that avoided a harsher impact of the global economic and financial crisis. Progress has been positive on reducing extreme poverty, providing access to safe drinking water and eliminating gender disparity in primary education, with these targets already achieved several years ahead of the 2015 deadline. However, the global economic and financial crisis, the high debt levels, weak competitiveness and the erosion of trade preferences for the region's traditional commodities have constrained growth notwithstanding recovery with gradual improvement in tourism flows and in the capacity to reduce vulnerabilities via regional integration.
The EU has accompanied Haiti's efforts in promoting development and reconstruction of the single fragile country in the Caribbean. For this purpose, €112 million were specifically allocated to support the democratic and economic governance of the country (e.g. political dialogue, rule of law and human rights, Public Finance Management reforms, anti-corruption, regional integration, administration reforms). EU relations and cooperation with Cuba continue to be carried out on a bilateral and regional basis. The adoption of the Cuba Negotiating Directives by the European Council (February 2014) opened the way to negotiations on a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement with Cuba.
EU Cooperation 2014-2020
The inherent vulnerability of the region to natural disasters and the increase in violence and crime in the Caribbean will continue to impose high social and economic costs and will continue to need particular attention under the 11th EDF Caribbean Regional Programme (CRIP). The total indicative 11th EDF allocation to the Caribbean Regional Programme is €346 million. This represents a substantial increase in respect to the allocation of the 10th EDF (€165 million). Based on the assessment of major regional challenges, and in line with the priorities defined in the EU 2012 Joint Caribbean-EU Partnership Strategy, the CRIP will address three focal areas, namely regional economic cooperation and integration, climate change, environment, disaster management and sustainable energy and crime and security.
The choice of the sectors reflects the specificity and needs of the region which is characterised by a degree of inherent vulnerability due to the small size (small island states) of its countries.
EU Cooperation 2008-2013
For the period 2008-2013, the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) provided approximately €1 billion for the implementation of the national and regional programmes in the Caribbean. The 10th EDF Caribbean Regional Programme (€165 million), had one single focal sector 'Regional Integration and Cooperation’, with the aim of supporting the various integration processes in which CARIFORUM countries are involved as well as on EPA implementation. The main projects funded under the 10th EDF are Economic Integration and Trade of OECS (€12.6 million), CSME integration programme with a budget of (€27.5 million), the EPA implementation programme (€46.5 million), the Regional Private Sector Development Programme (€28.3 million) and the bi-national Haiti/Dominican Republic (€22.4 million).