St. Vincent and the Grenadines 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 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. Vincent and the Grenadines, 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. Lome also introduced the STABEX system, to compensate ACP countries for the shortfall in export earnings due to fluctuations in prices.
Today the EU is St. Vincent and the Grenadines' largest grant aid partner for development. The programming framework to facilitate St. Vincent and the Grenadines-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. Vincent and the Grenadines focuses on Rural Roads and has a financial envelope of EUR 5.98 million. An amount of EUR 120,000 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.
Projects and programmes supported by the EU in the past in St. Vincent and the Grenadines include construction of a school in Union island - one of the islands in the Grenadines-, expansion of the automotive laboratory at the Technical College, Education Support Programme which encompassed early childhood along with primary, secondary and tertiary education.
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. Vincent and the Grenadines. EIB lending has been utilised for port development specifically in the construction of docking facilities for cruise ships and ferries. Lines of credit have been provided to the Caribbean Financial Services Corporation to small and medium size enterprises. There have also been numerous loans to the St. Vincent Electricity Services Ltd. for construction of a diesel plant.
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.