Political & Economic Relations

In 1975 the European Community signed a co-operation agreement – the Lomé Convention – with a group of independent African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that included Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. In the next five years, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Vanuatu joined the ACP group on gaining independence.

The signing of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement in Cotonou in June 2000 (the Cotonou Agreement) has brought the number of Pacific ACP (P-ACP) countries from eight to 14 to include four Central Pacific Micronesian countries – the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Nauru and the Republic of Palau – and two South Pacific Polynesian countries – Cook Islands and Niue.

Trade: As signatories to the Cotonou Agreement these 14 Pacific ACP states are entitled to a number of trade and aid advantages in their EU relations, as are the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) of France and (New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna) and the United Kingdom (Pitcairn)

The EU continues to offer preferential access to the PACP under the Everything But Arms (EBA) Initiative and the Cotonou Agreement and represents an important market for exports. Overall, the trade balance is very much in the P-ACP's favour. Special arrangements for sugar (through the Sugar Protocol) and compensation for losses on exports of other commodities (through the former Stabex scheme) have significantly helped Pacific foreign exchange receipts over the years.

The EU has provided a substantial programme of financial and technical co-operation: some €1,330 million has already been transferred to the P-ACP countries and OCTs over the last 20 years, amounting to one quarter of all assistance. Another €400 million is planned over the next five years.

The importance of EU-Pacific relations is confirmed by the permanent presence in Brussels of Pacific ambassadors, representing Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Palau are also based in Brussels. The EU maintains two delegations in Fiji and Papua New Guinea, two Offices in the P-ACP countries (Solomon Islands and Samoa) and one Office to the OCTs (New Caledonia)

Role of the EU Delegation

The Delegations of the European Union complement the Embassies of the European Union Member States. EU law determines the areas and subjects where competency has been transferred from the Member State of the EU, of which the European Union is the executive branch. Embassies of the EU Member States and EU Delegations are bound by the same distribution of competences.

The Delegation is also a major provider and manager of external assistance, both via the European Development Fund and on the basis of the EU budget, which sets a global amount of EU external assistance, apart from the bilateral external assistance of the Member States of the EU.

Common Foreign and Security Policy: The Delegations play a role in the conduct of the Common Foreign and Security Policy providing regular political analysis, conducting evaluations jointly with the EU Member State Embassies and contributing to the policymaking process.

In addition, the Delegations promote the local projection of an image of the European Union that correctly reflects facts, policies, statements and decisions taken by the EU.

This includes a pro-active role in matters pertaining to local information and communication about the EU.