Antigua and Barbuda & the EU – Political and Economic relations
Antigua and Barbuda has had a formal relationship with the European Union (then the European Economic Community) since 1984. As a former British colony, which became independent in 1981, it was the entry into the EEC by Britain in 1973 which offered Antigua and Barbuda and other Commonwealth countries in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) the possibility of negotiating their future relations with the EU.
The overall aim of EU co-operation is to improve the quality of life of the populations in the beneficiary countries through targeted and sustainable programmes. In 2010 the EU Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, which covers Antigua and Barbuda, disbursed 130 million euros in development co-operation aid amongst the ten countries it is accredited to in the region.
The co-operation has been underpinned by four Lome agreements and now the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000, through which the European Development Fund (EDF) provides grant aid towards development projects and programmes. The European Commission manages the funds and jointly implements the projects. Lome also introduced the STABEX system, to compensate ACP countries for the shortfall in export earnings due to fluctuations in the prices.
Today the EU is Antigua and Barbuda's largest grant aid partner for development. Some of the projects and programmes supported by the EU include the upgrading and expansion of the Antigua Hotel Training Centre, rehabilitation of the seawall of the historic Nelson Dockyard, construction of a three-storey science block at the Antigua State College, expansion of the Technical Vocational Centre at Tomlinson among others. The present EU 10th EDF intervention in Antigua and Barbuda focuses on Public Financial Management, which has a financial envelope of 3.43 million.
As a response to the present global financial crisis affecting ACP countries, the EU in 2009 proposed a set of measures called Vulnerability FLEX (VFLEX). It is aimed at assisting developing countries that are hit worst by the downturn in trade and falling revenues. This instrument focuses on ensuring spending on social safety nets and is based on the forecast of fiscal losses and other vulnerability criteria. In 2010 the European Union decided to top-up Antigua and Barbuda's 10th EDF allocation with additional VFLEX support of €9 million.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) also helps to implement the EU’s cooperation and development policies outside the EU and has made loans available to Antigua and Barbuda. EIB loans have been utilised in the country for a road rehabilitation programme, an airport navigational system at the V. C. Bird Airport, the improvement of the North Shore Water Distribution System and a livestock development programme. The EIB also participated in the funding of the Antigua and Barbuda component of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States waste management project.
The EU is placing increasing emphasis on climate change, alternative energy and food security as well as mainstreaming issues such as environmental protection, gender and governance in its development co-operation. The EU is committed to the promotion of Human Rights, the rule of law and democracy worldwide. The European Union Delegation continues to work closely with all stakeholders in Antigua and Barbuda and has assisted with the establishment of the Non-state Actors Panel which is actively involved in all aspects of our cooperation from programme formulation to implementation.