The EU's relations with the Pacific

The Pacific region consists of 15 states with a combined area of 528.000 km² and a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 20 million km². Key challenges are related to the low lying nature of some of the islands that make them highly vulnerable to climate change, small populations, vast distances between the countries, and a strong dependence on fossil fuels. When we refer to the Pacific we speak of

- Cook Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Fiji
- Kiribati
- Nauru
- Niue
- Palau
- Papua New Guinea
- Republic of Marshall Islands
- Samoa
- Solomon Islands
- Timor-Leste
- Tonga
- Tuvalu
- Vanuatu

The EU and the Pacific have a longstanding relationship based on the legacy of a shared history, common values, economic and trade cooperation.

Over the last 50 years the relationship was based on development cooperation within the framework of the EU-ACP Partnership established with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, enshrined in the 1975 Lomé Convention and updated in 2000 by the Cotonou Agreement.  The EU is appreciated by the Pacific countries as a constructive and predictable donor, as apart from the conditions set out in the Cotonou Agreement, there are no political conditions or strings attached to EU support.

Lately, the cooperation between the EU and the Pacific has been intensified in various other sectors, like environment, good governance, energy, climate change, fisheries and human rights.

In 2006 a  STRATEGY FOR A STRENGTHENED PARTNERSHIP was adopted to develop EU RELATIONS WITH THE PACIFIC ISLANDS from a mere donor-recipient level to a more political relationship. In 2012 this approach was complemented by the communication 'Towards a renewed EU-Pacific development Partnership (link to doc and link to Council conclusions). They reflect the growing environmental, political and economic importance of the Pacific region with a focus on governance, regionalism and sustainable management of natural resources.

The increasing relevance the EU attaches to its relations with the Pacific is mirrored in the participation of Commission President Barroso at the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) in 2011, of Commissioner Hedegaard in 2013, of the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy  Ashton in 2014 and of Commissioner Cañete in 2015. The PIF is the most relevant political inter-governmental regional organisation in the Pacific including 14 independent island states (all above mentioned countries except Timor-Leste) and Australia and New Zealand.

On 16 June 2015, the PIFS (Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat) and the EU signed the EDF11th Regional Indicative Programme.

With an allocation of EUR 166 million, the Regional Indicative Programme pdf - 2 MB [2 MB] promotes

  • Regional Economic Integration,
  • Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Management of Waste
  • Inclusive and Accountable Governance and the respect of Human Rights

The Pacific islands development Forum (PIDF) is another young organisation promoting green economy and sustainable development by bringing together leaders from the public and private sectors and civil society 

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is EU's largest implementing partner in the Pacific.