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Haiti tops EU, cariforum summit agenda

Published:Friday | March 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

A packed agenda has been set for next month's Ministerial Summit of the EU/CARIFORUM in Madrid, Spain, Spanish Minister of State Juan Pablo Laiglesia has disclosed.

Laiglesia, the secretary of state for Latin America and the Caribbean, told The Gleaner that Haiti's restoration will be atop the agenda.

At the same time, Laiglesia, who was in the island for the EU/ CARIFORUM dialogues on political dialogue in Kingston, lavished praise on Jamaica for what he described as the leading role Jamaica has played in the Haiti restoration programme.

Laiglesia also cited the Government's productive co-operation in the bilateral relations with Spain as another plus going into the Ministerial Summit.

"Spanish investments are in good health and new ones are coming inspite of the global (economic) crisis," Laiglesia said. "We have had the opportunity to review it with the prime minister and we are very satisfied," he said.

Laiglesia said the ministers would focus their attention on ongoing discussions on political dialogue, new partnership agreements, security, human-rights issues, food security and climate changes.

"All's set for the summit as we have built a good forum on which to start," Laiglesia said.

On the issue of food security, Laiglesia commented, "Many things have been done, but many more can be done."

He revealed that much attention will be placed on the status of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) at next month's summit.

"A new approach is being taken with respect to ACP countries as these discussions will embrace elements of cooperation and political dialogue," Laiglesia said.

The EPA is designed to create a free-trade area between the European Commission of the European Union and ACP countries.

Trade agreements

It is in response to continuing criticism that the non-reciprocal and discriminating preferential trade agreements offered by the EU are incompatible with World Trade Organisation rules.

Due to the continuing WTO incompatibility of previous arrangements, the EPA's key feature is its reciprocity and non-discriminatory nature.

Laiglesia conceded that there have been challenges as each member state is required to implement aspects of the agreement.

"The main challenge is to put the EPA into operation and that is not easy as each country is required to identify projects in order to draw down funds for development," Laiglesia asserted. "The Ministerial Council will be reviewing the implementation at the summit."

Laiglesia revealed that the summit would also focus on the application of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Amends the treaty

The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) was signed by EU member states on December 13, 2007, and entered into force in December 2009.

The document amends the treaty on European Union and the treaty establishing the European Community.

Prominent changes included more qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers, increased involvement of the European Parliament in the legislative process through extended co-decision with the Council of Ministers, the elimination of the pillar system and the creation of a long-term president of the European Council and a high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to present a united position on EU policies.

The treaty also made the union's human-rights charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, legally binding.