On 26 October in Brussels, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis represented the EU at an international meeting. He was requested to replace Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and co-chair the second meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council.
“After more than eight years of our EU membership and with only eight months to go before our Presidency of the EU Council, we are executing our first task of the Presidency. This request shows that Lithuania’s future Presidency is trusted,” Ažubalis said.
When opening the second meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council, Lithuanian Foreign Minister said that over the past four years progress was achieved in the cooperation between the two regions, but their citizens would benefit from faster implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement.
“The Economic Partnership Agreement is being implemented and some countries are already benefitting substantially from it. Like you, I would, however, like to see an even more tangible region-wide outcome in terms of development and economic growth. I hope that when we leave this meeting, it will be with a clear vision on how to get the best possible mileage from the opportunities that the Agreement offers, Ažubalis welcomed the Caribbean Trade Ministers on behalf of the EU.
The meeting of the Joint Council discussed a series of issues related to the trade and development aspects of the EPA and a number of concrete solutions to problems were identified. The importance of putting in place an effective monitoring mechanism was agreed to help in ensuring that things are progressing according to the schedules set out in the EPA.
The EU and CARIFORUM delegations discussed further provision of the EU development cooperation assistance in the changing global world. Participants discussed the need to mobilize the EU efforts to provide aid to the world’s poorest people, also taking into consideration the particular vulnerabilities of the largely Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean and the impact of natural conditions on their development.
The Joint Council decided to include into the Economic Partnership Agreement commitments of one of the Caribbean countries grouped in CARIFORUM –the Bahamas - to open up the market for investment and services.