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 its development indicators are mostly good, keeping the country well on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
The Cook Islands' isolation from foreign markets, a lack of natural resources, dispersed populations, inadequate infrastructure and a vulnerability to natural disasters, all hinder economic development.
The Country Strategy Paper for the Cook Islands (2008-13) and a multi-annual indicative programme set out the priorities for the €3.3 million 10thEuropean Development Fund budget (2008-13): reliable water supplies, sanitation, wastewater treatment and sewerage collection and energy.
The Cook Islands also benefits from funding under the 10th EDF to promote regional integration and trade-related issues, including implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
All EU projects in the Cook Islands 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.