Jamaica – EU to strengthen relations

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Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Marianne Van Steen, speaks at a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, held at the Agency’s head office in Kingston. [Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson]

By E. Hartman Reckord

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The strong ties between Jamaica and the European Union (EU) will be further strengthened. This assurance was given by newly appointed head of the EU delegation to Jamaica, ambassador Marianne Van Steen, at a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, held at the Agency’s head office in Kingston.

She said it is important for the connection to be strengthened into a relation of partnership evolving from the traditional donor-recipient relationship that existed in the past.

“In this 21st century, we do need partners. We do need people, countries, and allies in multilateral fora. We know that with the global challenges of the 21st century, we’re not able to face them alone – not the European Union, not Jamaica, not the Caribbean – so that is one of the things that I would like to strive for,” she said.

In terms of funding and cooperation, she said that the EU will continue to assist the country “where we do see that we can have an added value to efforts of the government”.

Ambassador Van Steen, who began her tour of duty in September, said that dialogue between the EU and the Government will take place to decide on areas of cooperation.

“We’re starting to sit down to see what we are going to do in the future. We work with seven-year cycles of cooperation. And the cycle is just ending in 2020,” she added. “So, we now have to sit down with the government; with the non-state actors; with the region, as well; with academia; with all the different interlocutors we have here in the country to sort of agree in which sectors we would like to continue working.”

The EU ambassador acknowledged that “digital inclusion” is high on the priority list of the government, noting that it will be an important aspect of the EU’s cooperation in the future.

“We also have this as a very important priority in our development work with Third-World countries. So, digital inclusion is going to be important. We haven’t singled out yet what it is going to be, but it is an ongoing work right now,” she said.

Additionally, she said that the EU is looking to help the country to be more prepared against disasters and to be resilient in the area of climate change.

“This is also a very important sector, where we would like to look at in more detail what we can do, or where is the added value of the European Union. But again, this is an ongoing exercise,” she said.

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