The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Tuiloma Neroni Slade, and the European Commissioner for Development, Mr Louis Michel have signed documents formalising the Pacific Regional Strategy Paper (RSP) and the Regional Indicative Programme (RIP).The signing was done at a ceremony held in Strasbourg, France, during the European Development Day on 15th November 2008
The RSP and the RIP form the basis for co-operation between the Pacific ACP States (PACPS) and the European Commission for the period 2008-2013.
Prepared on the basis of intense consultations among regional stakeholders as well as between the PIFS and the European Commission (EC), the RSP identifies two focal sectors for co-operation:
(1) Regional Economic Integration; and
(2) Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Environment.
A non-focal sector for organisational strengthening and civil society participation in the development process is also included in the RSP.
An indicative allocation totalling EU$95 million has been made for assistance in the three areas, EU$45 million for the first focal sector, EU$40 million, for the second, and EU$10 million for the non-focal sector. Work has already begun on the preparation of projects in each area for 2009.
The intention is to identify two major projects for funding in the first two focal sectors: for the first sector, projects relating to economic integration and trade and human resources; and, for the second sector, projects in areas relating to sustainable management of both marine resources and land resources to cover both the fisheries and agricultural sectors.
Speaking at a round table meeting of representatives of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regional integration organisations and Commissioner Michel, organised by the EC and held immediately before the signing ceremony, Mr Slade, the Regional Authorising Officer for the RIP, expressed the region's appreciation for the assistance that had been provided in the past to the PACPS by the EC and the assistance that had been committed by the EC for the coming five-year period.
Outlining the region's programme priorities under the Pacific Plan, the Forum Secretary General Mr Slade explained how the assistance from the EC would greatly facilitate efforts by the PACPS to deepen their own regional economic integration as well as to conclude an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU) as a positive basis for strengthening relations between the region and the EU for many years to come.