afrol News, 8 April - The Cape Verdean authorities will ask the European Union (EU) to obtain a "Special Status", making it possible for the Atlantic Ocean state to obtain some structural funds in the same way as the neighbouring Spanish Canary Islands and the Portuguese Azores and Madeira Islands. The idea originates in EU members Spain and Portugal.
The Cape Verdean Prime Minister, José Maria Neves, told the Portuguese journal 'Público' that his government wants to be more direct with Brussels, referring to the close ties in the region and the strategic position of the Cape Verdean archipelago. The ex-colonial power Portugal and Cape Verde's closest European neighbour, Spain, are reported to be willing to lobby for the country's desires in Brussels. Portuguese ex-President Mário Soares proposed equal ideas a few years ago, referring to the cultural and historic ties between Cape Verde and Europe.
Neves says he believes that a "strategic" or "special" partnership between Cape Verde and the EU could be a possibility that should be discussed. He told "Público" that -, although Cape Verde never would become an autonomous or peripheral region of the EU comparable to the Canary Islands, Azores or Madeira - "a special partnership" was what his government was asking for, based on a "special agreement with the EU."
The Cape Verdean Prime Minister reminded about the important advancements in his country over the last decade. A fine-working democracy and respect of human rights had been introduced, together with a free market policy. Also the cultural connections to Europe were strong. He hoped to begin discussing about development aid, the access to structural funds and at a later stage, the free movement of persons and goods.
Cape Verde already has a somewhat special relationship with the EU. On the basis of an old currency treaty with Portugal, the Cape Verdean Escudo is fixed to the euro -, Portugal's new currency - and freely convertible. Cape Verde is part of the ACP trade Treaty between Europe and 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Further, the islands have an extensive fisheries treaty with the EU.
The EU already has several special agreements with neighbouring countries outside the European continent, although these are confined to the Mediterranean zone. Several North African and Middle East countries are EU associates and are awaiting the establishment of the so-called Euro-Mediterranean free trade by 2010. These countries will however not receive EU structural funds. French territories in the Caribbean and South America do however receive funds and are an integrated part of the EU.