EU: Regional strategy for Central America 2007-2013
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The regional strategy paper (RSP) for Central America aims at responding to the needs of the region as regards the strengthening of regional integration, stability, social and economic cohesion and sustainable development. The RSP and the Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) for the period 2007-2013 present the details of implementation.

European Commission - Central America Regional Strategy Paper for 2007-2013

SUMMARY

 

The regional strategy paper (RSP) for 2007-2013 defines the objectives and priorities for cooperation at regional level in Central America. It supplements the country strategy papers (CSPs) established for each country in the region, i.e. Costa Rica, Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama .

The RSP is also part of a strategic partnership with the region. The European Union (EU) intends to support the regional integration process in Central America, in particular within the framework of a future association agreement, including a free trade agreement. The RSP is based on the experience gained from the RSP for 2002-2006 (PDF), from which it learnt a number of lessons.

The region shares common political, economic, social and environmental challenges related mainly to:

•  strengthening democracy (human rights, rule of law and justice system, public sector management, strengthening the role of civil society and political parties);

•  security in the region, which is experiencing increasing insecurity, whether as regards common law delinquency, organised crime, drug trafficking or money laundering;

•  economic development, which requires further integration into the world economy, progress at regional internal market level, improved productivity and competitiveness, and a regional environment that is suitable for foreign investment;

•  further social cohesion, as a means of combating a high level of poverty, inequality and social discrimination;

•  protection of the environment given the region's vulnerability to natural disasters, unsustainable natural resource exploitation (forests, biodiversity, mines), and the development of renewable energy against the background of high dependency on fossil fuels.

The following challenges associated with regional integration should also be added: weakness of regional institutions, insufficient political will, lack of harmonization of policies and structures, insufficient funding and the absence of a dispute settlement mechanism.

 

EU response strategy

The strategy and the indicative programme identify three priority areas for cooperation, defined in conjunction with partner countries, regional authorities, delegations and EU Member States present in Central America.

The objective of the first component is to strengthen the institutional system with a view to regional integration (capacities, funding, structure and functioning). It concerns the agents of regional integration, e.g. regional organisations, coordination organisations or national entities.

The second component concerns support for economic integration leading to a cu4stoms union. The intensification of trade, a regional regulatory approach and convergence of support policies (free movement of goods and services, property rights, investment, health and plant health standards, etc.) are specific priorities.

The last component concerns the strengthening of regional governance and security matters. Cooperation between national authorities (customs, police, justice etc) will promote regional integration. Specific programmes are possible, e.g., for the prevention of crime, the improvement of mutual knowledge of Member States' judicial and regulatory systems, and joint operations at the frontiers.

The programmes incorporate cross-cutting issues such as equal opportunities, the environment and human rights. Moreover, civil society is involved in planning in order to encourage social ownership of the integration process and the visibility of EU action.

 

Implementation details

The beneficiaries of cooperation are the entities of the Central American Integration System (SICA (ES), SIECA (ES), PARLACEN (ES)), intergovernmental organisations and commissions, national organisations and members of civil society participating in the regional integration process.

Indicative funding under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) amounts to 75 million, allocated according to the priorities and the indicative programmes for 2007-2010 and 2011-2013. Other instruments may also contribute to funding, such as thematic funding (human rights and democracy, environmental conservation, co-funding by non state actors) or regional programmes for Latin America.

Performance indicators will be defined during the elaboration of aid programmes.

 

Background

This paper is included within the context of development cooperation (Article 117 of the Treaty establishing the European Community) and the Development Consensus.

It is based on the Framework Agreement for political dialogue and cooperation between the EU and Central America (1993), reviewed in 2003. It is also included in the political dialogue initiated by the San José dialogue. Generally speaking, the dialogue between the EU and Latin America has been the subject of a number of summits; the most recent one was held in Vienna in 2006 (Vienna Agreement 2006) gave rise to a Commission Communication on a reinforced partnership with Latin America (2005).

 

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