St. Lucia has had a formal relationship with the European Union (then the European Economic Community) since 1979. As a former British colony, which became independent in 1979, it was the entry into the EEC by Britain in 1973 which offered St. Vincent and the Grenadines 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. Lucia, 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. Lucia's largest grant aid partner for development. The programming framework to facilitate St. Lucia-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. Lucia focuses on Employment Generation through Private Sector Development and has a financial envelope of EUR 5.35 million. An amount of EUR 330,000 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 main project supported by the EU in St. Lucia at present is the construction of a New National Hospital whereby the EU has allocated EUR 37 million.
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. Lucia. The EIB has provided loans to the St. Lucia Electricity Service for expansion of power generating capacity and a geothermal study. It has also provided credit lines to the Bank of St. Lucia for financing of small and medium size ventures.
The EU’s Humanitarian Aid Department ECHO has also provided emergency and post emergency aid to assist with the country’s rehabilitation following the passage of Hurricane Tomas in October 2010.
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. Lucia 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. Lucia 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. Lucia 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.