GEORGETOWN, Guyana, April 6, 2017 (CMC) – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) hailed its ongoing relationship with the European Union (EU) and said that it was looking forward to building on such a relationship.
Guyana’s President, David Granger, who is also the current CARICOM Chairman, told a ceremony, marking the 60thanniversary of the treaty establishing the European Economic Community (ECC), last night, that the goals of his country, as well as the region, were international peace and economic integration.
He said these goals were shared by the European Union, and were the basis upon which the signing of the Treaty of Rome, occurred 60 years ago.
“The Caribbean, today, like Europe 60 years ago, yearns for peace. The Caribbean seeks international peace, which is characterised by a dignified and secure life for our peoples. It seeks economic progress, which is undergirded by special consideration to the needs and vulnerabilities of small-island, developing and low-lying coastal states, such as Guyana,” Granger said.
He said the goals were also the foundation that have resulted in the Caribbean being part of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), entering into mutually beneficial, preferential agreements with Europe.
“The Caribbean, as party to successive Lomé conventions and signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, looks forward to building on four decades of ACP-EU relations,” he added.
The 79-member ACP Group and European countries have been in a comprehensive and structured partnership since 1975, and the current 20-year Cotonou Treaty, which covers trade, development cooperation and political dialogue between the two parties, ends in 2020.
The ACP Group has already indicated that it intends to speak with one voice, when it negotiates a major partnership framework with the European Union.
Granger told the ceremony that it was the Treaty of Rome that inaugurated a program of economic integration, which allowed the European Union to become a formidable economic community, accounting for 20 percent of global exports and with over 62 percent of its trade being intra-regional.
“The Treaty of Rome was inspired by the philosophy of promoting peace through economic integration. Two World Wars in the first half of the twentieth century had taken a terrible toll on Europe.
“The scars of the Second World War were still visible in 1957, 12 years after it had ended. The Treaty of Rome was signed by six states — which were encouraged by the experience of the European Coal and Steel Community — six years earlier. They were convinced that peace and economic progress could be secured best, through deeper economic integration,” Granger said.
He noted that the treaty served as part of the post-war era of economic integration, preceding the establishment of the Latin America Free Trade Association (1960), Central American Common Market (1960), the Caribbean Free Trade Association (1965) and the Caribbean Community (1973).
“Economic integration was increasing its impetus and impact in other parts of the world. Europe was not alone. The Treaty of Rome has bequeathed a legacy of sustained peace over the past 60 years. The vision of the Treaty’s architects has been vindicated,” Granger said.
The EU Ambassador to Guyana, Jernej Videtic, said that the founding members signed the treaty having been inspired by a dream of a peaceful, common future of European integration.
He said that discussions on ACP-EU relations, beyond 2020, are ongoing, and that these discussions must take place in a transparent manner, in an atmosphere of partnership and cooperation.
“It is, of course, of major importance to Guyana and other Caribbean countries that these discussions proceed, especially in view of the challenges facing the region and indeed the wider world,” Ambassador Videtic said, pledging that the European Union will continue to be a strong and constant partner of Guyana and the Caribbean Community.