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.