EU Cooperation with Trinidad & Tobago
EU Cooperation with Trinidad & Tobago
The European Commission – A Partner in Development Cooperation
The beginning of the partnership in development cooperation between the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the European Commission go back to the mid 1970’s. Since then, under successive 5 –year cycles, loan and grant funding has been made available to assist the government and the people of Trinidad and Tobago on the path towards a developed nation. During the past 15 years the European Commission has allocated grant funding worth more than € 100 million for Trinidad and Tobago. Initially, infrastructure related programmes such as roads, agriculture and rural development were dominant. More recently the focus has shifted to social development programmes and the promotion of economic diversification.
Poverty Reduction and fight against HIV/AIDS
The € 6 million Poverty Reduction Programme came to an end in December 2008. The programme created structures for decentralised delivery of social services and created 15 NGO networks to help address the poverty at the grass root level. Some 600 grants were approved under the programme, amounting up to TTD 75 000 per grant for community based initiatives to combat different faces of poverty. See pictures of the small grant projects
The € 7.3 million support for the battle against HIV/AIDS was granted against the statistics revealing that the Caribbean is the second most affected region by HIV in the world. With the EU's support, Antiretroviral Medication (ARV) is funded for people living with HIV. The EU's assistance will end in 2009 and will assist in revising the National HIV strategic plan, which was extended after its expiry in 2008.
Tertiary Education Reform
- Signature of the € 27.3 million programme on Tertiary Education Reform in March 2007 also reformed the working relationship between the Government and the European Commission. This programme is the first undertaking in Trinidad and Tobago to be implemented by sector budget support method rather than traditional project support. This approach entails increased dialogue at policy level between the Government and the European Commission and assumes a greater responsibility and ownership for the implementation of the programme at the Government side. Thus, budget support programmes can only be adopted in countries with stable financial management and institutions such as in Trinidad and Tobago. The programme, which focuses on Support to the Non- University Tertiary Education Sector identifies the following goals as priority areas for policy reform:
- Restructuring the public and private system - through the development of a coherent and seamless tertiary education and training system responsive to socio-economic development needs and goals;
- Widening Access - through the adoption of an inclusive approach to post secondary education and training provision;
- Reforming the curriculum and improving teaching - to prepare students for effective citizenship and the world of work with emphasis on sciences, innovation and entrepreneurship, and languages;
- Financing the system – through the design and implementation of funding and resource allocation mechanisms that promote equity and access, improve programme quality and encourage operational efficiency;
- Managing the system – through strengthening leadership and managerial capacity at sectoral and institutional level; and enhancing research capacity to support data – driven strategic planning, policy formulation and evaluation
Restructuring of the Sugar Sector
The European Commission has also allocated more than €75 million to Trinidad and Tobago in order to assist in the restructuring of the sugar industry. Special attention is being devoted to diversifying the economic base of the sugar dependent areas and mitigating the social, economic and environmental impacts of the restructuring process. In 2008, the Government signed the first Financing Agreement and was able to access the first annual allocation of € 6 million. In 2010, the Government received an additional €13.034.000 and in 2012, the Government received €16.585.000.
In 2009, a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the restructuring measures was conducted. The SEA concluded that the restructuring of the sugar sector has a variety of impacts on the environment on macro – and micro level, positive and negative. The main recommendations provide, amongst others, for an integrated water management plan, climate change adaptation strategy and a socio-economic assessment focusing on labour availability. The environmental impacts include an increase in demand for water for the agricultural sectors, the loss of carbon sinks, and the increase in industrial and human settlement developments. There is also a positive effect of increased biodiversity due to the cessation of aerial pesticide spraying, and monoculture. The SEA provides micro and sectoral specific recommendations for agricultural, residential and industrial development plans stemming from the restructured sugar sector. The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has established an inter-ministerial working group to discuss the findings and recommendations of the SEA and how to implement them. A baseline study conducted in 2010 states that the main socioeconomic impacts are an increase in employment opportunities, increased housing availability and increased economic diversification.
Other progress in the restructuring programme to date includes:
- TT$82M in payments to more than 3000 cane farmers as transitional support
- The issuance of agricultural leases to former Caroni employees
- Regularization of the status of farmers squatting on Caroni lands
- Compensation to 9000 former employees of Caroni 1975 Ltd
- Purchase of pension annuities for former Caroni employees
- Construction of access roads for 17 agricultural estates and 28 subdivisions
- Revision of the agricultural incentive programme
- A survey of the socio-economic conditions in the former sugar areas.
SEA Final Report [3 MB]
SRA socioeconomic baseline [7 MB]
The 10th EDF cooperation programmes
In December 2008, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the European Commission signed the Country Support Paper 2008-2013 [112 KB] . Under this €25.5 million Development Partnership Agreement, assistance will be provided in two main areas: 1. Support to Enabling Competitive Business and 2. Good and Effective Governance. More particularly, in the area of Enabling competitive Business, the Agreement will support the enabling conditions and regulatory environment for the non-energy industrial and service sectors. Specific actions to be supported include closer university-industry cooperation; assistance to the small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector; and innovative and export-oriented activities. In the area of Good Governance, the Prorgamme will support the efforts of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in the fight against organised crime with emphasis on drugs trafficking and money laundering and strengthening the Environmental Commission in enforcing environmental legislation and dispensing justice in environmental maters.
The EU HIV programmes
The € 7.3 million support for the battle against HIV/AIDS was granted against the statistics revealing that the Caribbean is the second most affected region by HIV in the world. With the EU's support, Antiretroviral Medication (ARV) was funded for people living with HIV. The EU's assistance to the National HIV Strategic Plan ended in 2009.
Regional Integration & Cooperation
In addition to the national cooperation programmes, Trinidad and Tobago participates in a number of European Commission funded initiatives to enhance regional integration and cooperation. Port of Spain based institutions such as the CARICOM Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) receive assistance from the European Commission to strengthen the rule of law in the Caribbean. To prepare for natural hazards, construction of the four (4) European Commission funded Weather Radars, will be completed in February 2009. This will link Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Belize and Guyana to a wider Caribbean early warning weather system network. An HIV project for the OCT’s is also been supported by the EC and implemented by PAHO. The European Commission also supports the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) in its objective to improve forest management in the region. Other regional agencies such as ECLAC, ACS, and OECS are also engaged to provide support through technical cooperation activities to the region.
The way ahead
Evolution of the working methods and sectors covered under the EC – T&T partnership reflects changes in the broader economic and social thinking. The European Commission recognizes Trinidad and Tobago as a valuable trading partner with the countries of the European Union on the one hand and as a player with significant influence at the Caribbean regional integration effort on the other hand. Traditional aid-based approach as regards the development cooperation has now graduated to appreciating the importance of a more holistic approach including trade aspects and a variety of stakeholders in the process. Development cooperation is increasingly seen as a partnership between different donors, government and the civil society, including non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and the private sector.