Arusha — Five Regional Economic Communities in the Eastern, Southern Africa, and Indian Ocean region, namely COMESA, EAC, IGAD, and IOC, today concluded a three-day joint mission to Brussels, Belgium to discuss with the European Union's External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission's Development Cooperation Office (DEVCO) how to deepen and consolidate the cooperation and gains so far made among and between the parties.
Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera, Secretary General of the East African Community; Amb. Jean Claude de L'Estrac, Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission; Mr. Sindiso Ndema Ngwenya, Secretary-General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); and Amb. Eng. Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of IGAD led the respective organization's officials. In attendance were also officials from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The discussions also delved on the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) architecture in support of regional integration and cooperation in the 5 regional economic communities.
The five Regional Organisations have been implementing regional projects and programmes using EDF resources for more than ten years. They started, as the lead actors to programme by identifying and formulating projects, with the 9th EDF upon signature of the ACP EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement.
During the interaction with the European Union and DEVCO, it was reiterated that the region had a high level of inter-regional coordination, in particular among COMESA, EAC, IGAD and IOC, under the Inter-Regional Coordinating Committee (IRCC) with established mechanisms for consulting with SADC and also with the African Union in respect of the continental integration agenda.
Amb. Sezibera currently chairs the Inter-Regional Coordinating Committee (IRCC) and led the discussions with the EU and DEVCO officials.
The four regional organisations COMESA, EAC, IGAD and IOC have been sharing a common regional indicative programme. Over the 9th and 10th EDF, the combined total initial envelopes for the region exceeded EUR 1 billion. The 10th EDF shows a strong increased emphasis on regional integration, which has impacted the population of nearly six hundred million over the combined member states.
The 11th EDF will remain fully consistent with the Cotonou principles around a single Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) while at the same time endeavouring to take into account certain specificities of each Regional Organisation. Three sectors of support have been identified, based on the principles of subsidiarity, complementarity and cost-effectiveness, namely; peace, security and regional stability; regional economic integration; and regional natural resource management
Based on the discussions held in Brussels, all parties have agreed to refine the 11th EDF regional governance framework in the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.
All parties also agreed to continue refining the core 11th EDF programming guidelines and draft Regional indicative programme. The Regional Organisations also agreed to remain the lead actors in matters of consultation of Member States through the prevailing structures and policy organs. All parties agreed to meet again on 12-15 November 2013 in Mauritius.
On the sidelines of the joint mission, the four Chief Executive Officers of the 4 RECs spearheaded visibility drive in the European Parliament and engaged the Press Club Brussels Europe.
At the invitation of Hon. Charles Goerens, European Union Member of Parliament and also Member of the European Parliament's Development Committee, the four RECs (COMESA, EAC, IGAD, and IOC), were allowed to set up visibility/exhibition stands inside the EU Parliament on the 17-19 September 2013 to show-case the value addition by EU in its cooperation with the RECs.
This first-ever visibility event had four themes lead by each REC as follows; Building Regional Institutions for Trade by COMESA; Building Regional Interconnections for Trade by EAC; Regional security by IGAD; and Natural Resources by IOC.
The visibility events were attended by Parliamentarians, EU Commission Services, and other EU stakeholders and the media influential in the decision processes on support to the RECs.
Notes to Editors:
Within the ACP group of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific States, regional integration is promoted by Regional Organizations (ROs) such as COMESA, EAC, IGAD and IOC in the Eastern and Southern Africa - Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) region. This is also supported by the European Union, through a mechanism known as the Inter-Regional Coordinating Committee (IRCC), in the context of the ACP - EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement and the EU Agenda for Change, regional integration being an engine for growth and poverty reduction.
Over one billion Euros has been channeled via these Regional Organizations under the successive European Development Funds (EDF) to assist in building regional institutions, regional interconnections, enhanced peace and security and collective management of natural resources.
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Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department