Those technical meetings focused on reviewing the results of INTERREG IV programme; the governance and implementation arrangements, and the communication strategy for INTERREG V; and the pre-selection of eligible projects that aim to enhance cooperation and to promote future development among French territories and the wider Caribbean.
Under the theme, Building The Caribbean Together, the main objectives of the INTERREG V Caraïbes’ 2014-2020 programme are to "strengthen the economic competitiveness of the greater Caribbean, respond to common challenges of environmental and health issues and promote our joint cultural heritage of the region.”
This occasion marks the first time that the INTERREG Programme has been launched in an English-speaking country as organisers wish to express their desire and commitment to create regional partnerships between the French Caribbean and the English (as well as Dutch and Spanish) speaking countries and territories in the region.
Furthermore, by launching in Saint Lucia, organisers wish to accommodate the desire of the OECS to become more involved in the governance of the INTERREG Caribbean programme, while giving all regional stakeholders the opportunity to play a part in efforts by the EU to put trans-national cooperation at the heart of the development and construction of the Greater Caribbean.
Head of the OECS Development Cooperation & Resource Mobilisation Unit, Ms. Beverly Best, reassured stakeholders, and potential partners of the INTERREG Programme, of the commitment and the keen interest of the government of the OECS in ensuring the viability of this partnership and the overall success of the programme.
“We look forward to working closely with all our partners and encourage participation, especially among the public and private sector and civil society, to embrace the opportunities of enhanced regional integration and collaboration within the Caribbean.”
“It is our expressed view that the INTERREG V programme will be critical to developing strategic partnerships for regional cooperation within the Caribbean region, through transnational and cross border cooperation,” Ms. Best said.
Ms. Best also noted that the OECS is the tightest, most closely knit, of the integration movements in the Caribbean region and as such possesses enormous strengths and possibilities that naturally enables this region to explore innovative avenues for stronger collaboration and cooperation with the French territories.
“Martinique is now an associate member of the OECS and negotiations and discussions are well underway for the membership of Saint Martin and Guadeloupe, hopefully by 2017.”
“The opportunities embodied in this programme epitomize a new paradigm for pushing the envelope to strengthen regional integration and collaboration among all OECS members, as well as its eminent members and the wider Caribbean,” Ms. Best said.
The ‘INTERREG V Caraïbes’ operational programme is part of a privileged partnership with the regional organizations of the Caribbean, including the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and with the Dominican Republic CARIFORUM, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which are member organizations of the strategic steering bodies of the programme. It is also consistent with the strategies of other international organizations in the Caribbean, such as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Central American Integration System / Secretariat for Economic Integration Central American (SICA/SEICA).
INTERREG is a series of five programmes designed to stimulate co-operation between specific regions of the European Union (EU) and their neighbouring countries and territories, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Through this cooperation initiative, stakeholders in the French Overseas Departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guyana, as well as the French Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin, have the opportunity to develop and implement “Win-Win projects” by partnering with their neighbours in the region, representing more than 40 countries and territories located in and around the Caribbean sea.
The INTERREG programme is based on several priority axes: employment and innovation, natural hazards, the natural and cultural environment, public health and renewable energies.
Given the growing importance of regional co-operation, the programme benefits from a substantial budgetary increase from € 63 million to € 86 million, of which € 64.2 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is to support the projects to be covered by the programme in need of the French Overseas Departments and Territories.
About the ‘INTERREG Caraïbes’ programme
The ‘INTERREG Caraïbes’ programme is based in Basse-Terre, capital of the French Overseas Department and Region of Guadeloupe. The Regional Council of Guadeloupe, in its capacity as the management authority, ensures the implementation of the ‘INTERREG Caraïbes’ -European regional co-operation programme.
The first INTERREG programme began in 1989; INTERREG IV covered the period 2007–2013; and the European Commission approved INTERREG V, covering the period of 2014-2020, on 1st December 2015.