Civil society focus falls on EU funds


CIVIL SOCIETY has a chance to chart a course for its needs through the cooperation between the European Union (EU) and CARIFORUM.Last week delegates from across the region met for a two-day forum of civil society organisations for the purpose of framing a proposal for submission to access the European Development Fund.Chairman of the Non-State Actors’ Advisory Panel, Rodney Grant, said many important development issues were discussed at the two-day meeting at Savannah Hotel, in Hastings, Christ Church.“Basically, the reason behind the meeting was to come up with an agenda for what are the issues that we feel are important to represent this $4.85 million because, clearly, you can’t say you have this money and that’s it.“You have to articulate what it is you are going to do with this $4.85 million and this is the reason for the meeting. This is part of a broader envelope that the European Union (EU) has made available to regional governments,” Grant said.The meeting was the initiative of the Non-State Actors’ Advisory Panel of Barbados and served to combine efforts with the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), which was mandated to hold a regional meeting with non-governmental organisations, labour and the private sector representatives to come up with a non-state actors’ proposal for the regional indicative programme between the European Commission and CARIFORUM.According to Grant, the EU has stated that civil society must be included in the process because civil society represented the voice of the people.“. . . So to us, this is an important process. It is much more than just how we are going to spend the money, but it is ensuring we are included in the process.”The Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce, the Caribbean Congress of Labour, the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation and the CPDC are the four regional organisations recognised by CARIFORUM, but only one of them can sign the partnership agreement.Head of the European Commission delegation, Robert Baldwin, was in no doubt the meeting was an important event for civil society in the Caribbean.“It’s a great chance for them to have a bigger voice in what goes on. It’s a great chance for them to also improve the coordination among themselves so that they can have consolidated positions,” Baldwin said. (MK)


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