As a former British colony, which became independent in 1966, it was the entry into the EEC by the United Kingdom in 1973 which offered Barbados 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 disbursed just over EUR 80 million in development co-operation aid amongst the ten countries it is accredited to in the region.
The EU is Barbados' largest grant aid partner for development. The EU provides in excess of 65% of Official Development Assistance to Barbados. The EU–Barbados development cooperation portfolio has grown significantly in recent years, primarily due to the allocation of significant funds from the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries (AMSP). The current portfolio is approximately EUR 75 million and will be invested in building capacity through the Human Resource Development Programme.
There is also EUR 5 million support for a national renewable energy initiative. With regards to Barbados' national renewable energy initiative, in November 2013, the Government signed the BBD$50 million Public Sector Smart Energy programme with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union (EU).
The co-operation has been underpinned by four Lome agreements and now the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000. The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main instrument by which the EU provides development aid to Barbados. EDF funds are programmed in 5-year cycles. Under the co-operation the European Commission manages the funds and jointly implements the programmes.
Another feature of the partnership allows Barbados' sugar to access the EU market, duty-free quota-free. The grant aid provided by the EU to Barbados does not include bilateral cooperation by EU Member States or support under the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP).
The programming framework to facilitate Barbados-EU cooperation for the period 2014 to 2020 is articulated in the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme. Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency has been identified as the priority area, with EUR 3 million provided towards the intervention.
The EU's is also supporting the efforts of Barbados to recover from the effects of recent global economic and financial crises, restore macro-economic stability, and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Linkages between the National Indicative Programme and CARIFORUM regional programmes will be sought, as will the opportunity to leverage further funds for development interventions; one opportunity for this being the Caribbean Investment Facility (CIF). The EU support complements, and is based on, the analysis and projections of the Barbados National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2006-2025 "Global Excellence, Barbadian Traditions".
An amount of EUR 150,000 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 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.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) also helps to implement the EU’s cooperation and development policies outside the EU and has lent important lines of credit to Barbados. The EIB provides loans directly to the private sector for commercially viable projects. Such loans to Barbados in the past have supported projects in the fields of energy (The Barbados Light & Power Company), Transport (Barbados Airport Development), South Coast Sewage Project and the Barbados Port Authority (Sea Transport).
As it pertains to the regional dimension Barbados 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, Barbados 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. Barbados 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.