The regional integration process in the Eastern and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region (ESA-IO region) was institutionalised in the late seventies. This has led to the formation of regional organisations with mandates to address specific issues and having ultimate common development objectives, such as Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
The EU is a long-standing supporter of the ESA-IO region. Its support is enshrined in the Regional Strategy Paper, which is the EU's programme for supporting regional integration in the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean. Under the 10th European Development Fund (2008 - 2013), a financial envelope of EUR 645 million has been allocated to the ESA-IO to support regional economic integration, especially regional integration policies, trade and Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with the EU and regional sector policies. Programmes are identified and developed under the framework of the Inter-Regional Coordination Committee (IRCC) which was established to ensure the overall coordination within the ESA-IO region.
Our support reflects the EU's strong commitment to regional integration in Africa as a whole, and this region in particular, as well as our faith in the ability of the above mentioned four regional organisations to progress with their integration agenda. This was further reconfirmed during the regional Inter-Regional Coordination Committee (IRCC) meetings.
The EU is a strong supporter of the regional integration, which is considered, based on EU's own experience, a fundamental pillar for peace and prosperity to facilitate the integration within the region, and ultimately a wider integration into the world economy.