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St. Kitts and Nevis has had a formal relationship with the European Union (then the European Economic Community) since 1984. As a former British colony, which became independent in 1983, it was the entry into the EEC by Britain in 1973 which offered St. Kitts and Nevis and other Commonwealth countries in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) the possibility of negotiating their future relations with the EU.
The overall aim of EU co-operation is to improve the quality of life of the populations in the beneficiary countries through targeted and sustainable programmes. In 2014 the EU Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, which covers St. Kitts and Nevis, disbursed just over EUR 80 million in development co-operation aid amongst the ten countries it is accredited to in the region.
Historically EU-ACP co-operation has been underpinned by four Lome agreements and now the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000, through which the European Development Fund (EDF) provides grant aid towards development projects and programmes. The European Commission manages the funds and jointly implements the projects.
Today the EU is St. Kitts and Nevis' largest grant aid partner for development. The programming framework to facilitate St. Kitts and Nevis-EU cooperation for the period 2014 to 2020 is articulated in the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme. The present EU 11th EDF intervention in St. Kitts and Nevis focuses on Renewable Energy and the Energy Efficiency Sector and has a financial envelope of EUR 2.6 million. An amount of EUR 25,000 has been set aside to support civil society organisations, specifically the Non-State Actors (NSA) Advisory Panel, which is actively involved in all aspects of our cooperation from programme formulation to implementation. This allocation may also be used to finance actions linked to cross cutting issues. The grant aid provided by the EU to St. Kitts and Nevis does not include bilateral cooperation by EU Member States or support under the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP).
The EU-St. Kitts and Nevis development co-operation portfolio has grown significantly in recent years, due to the allocation of funds from the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries (AMSP). This allocation was provided even after St. and Nevis closed its sugar industry in 2005. The present AMSP portfolio is approximately EUR 71.3 million, which is being delivered through General Budget Support.
Over the years some of the projects and programmes supported by the EU include rehabilitation of the Joseph N France General Hospital and IT-based management and Training.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) also helps to implement the EU’s cooperation and development policies outside the EU and has made loans available to St. Kitts and Nevis. EIB loans have been utilised in the country for airport development, In addition, credit lines have been provided to the St. Kitts and Nevis Development Bank for the financing of productive investments for small and medium sized enterprises in the industrial, agro-industrial, transport and service sectors.
The EU is placing increasing emphasis on climate change, alternative energy and food security as well as mainstreaming issues such as environmental protection, gender and governance in its development co-operation. The EU is committed to the promotion of Human Rights, the rule of law and democracy worldwide.
As it pertains to the Regional dimension St. Kitts and Nevis and the EU conduct relations not only at bilateral level, but within the framework of several regional groupings and other fora.
The European Union, in seeking a partnership for growth, stability and development with the Caribbean, supports the ongoing process of regional integration within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). As a member of CARICOM, St. Kitts and Nevis is deeply involved in the policy dialogue between the EU and CARICOM and benefits from the resources made available under the EU Strategy for the Caribbean. St. Kitts and Nevis also benefits from its participation in the EU-Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) summits that take place bi-annually. Heads of State and Government of the EU and the Latin America and the Caribbean countries met in June 2015 for the 7th EU-LAC Summit.