30 Oct 2006

EU agreements with Pacific to be development focused

5:31 am on 30 October 2006

The European Union is to move to a development focus in the negotiations over

Economic Partnership Agreements, after calls for a change in direction by Pacific Island Forum leaders.

The European Commission's special adviser on development, Athanassios

Theodorakis, says the EU will not force any country into such an agreement, but it

believes they are of strategic importance for the gradual integration of

Pacific Island countries into world markets.

He says properly targeted development assistance and appropriate trade

policies are probably the best way to develop a strong, self sustaining


The Cook Islands Foreign minister, Wilkie Rasmussen, says Pacific Island

countries had told the EU that the goalposts had to stop shifting and

there needed to be a development focus, which the EU agreed to.

": Let's identify the priorities and then lets start working together on a"

parallel line, that's how they described it, a line we're looking at the

funding that is already here and this economic partnership agreement that we

are working towards for implementation in 2008.

The negotiations are to be stepped up to meet the EPA deadline.