afrol News, 15 April - Cape Verde Prime Minister José Maria Neves held a high-level meeting in Brussels with European Commission leader José Manuel Barroso to finalise the last steps in negotiations about an Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU. Cape Verde is to benefit from new funding from the EU.
Prime Minister Neves was accompanied by Cape Verde's Foreign Minister José Brito, the National Director of Political Affairs and Cooperation and other senior diplomats from the archipelago. The mission on Tuesday met with the President of the European Commission to discuss and deepen a partnership agreement signed in Brussels last year, focusing on the issue of economic partnership, and also a mobility agreement.
Judging by the testimonies of participants in the meeting, the meeting was a success and achieved significant progress. Cape Verde is negotiating an economic partnership agreement with the European Union (EU) that will allow the West African archipelago to continue to enjoy favourable export conditions for its products to Europe.
Cape Verde until now has enjoyd the facilities granted to so-called least developed countries (LDCs), which exempts poor trade partners from customs duties for export to Europe.
But Cape Verde has seen a flamboyant economic development during the last decades, and a few years ago the UN redfined it as a middle income country, meaning that Cape Verde was to lose favourable LDC condition after a transitional period of three years. This period ends in December this year. The Cape Verdean government however hopes to extend the transition period for yet another year, and the Brussels meeting idicated its bid is being successful.
"We want to sign [the Economic Partnership Agreement] as soon as possible," stated Prime Minister Neves after the meeting. The new EU-Cape Verde agreement orginally should be reached within the regional framework of ECOWAS. But the LDC transition had complicated matters. Mr Neves said EU leader Barroso had been "aware and sensitive" on the matter, together seeking solutions or a smooth transition and a possibility to win time for Cape Verde.
Cape Verde has already achieved a special partnership agreement with the EU, handling both political and economic matters. With a separate Economic Partnership Agreement, Cape Verde further moves from ECOWAS towards the EU. After the LDC transition, Cape Verde aims at a deeper integration into the EU economy and market.
The Brussels meeting also addressed mobility and visa regulations. Cape Verdeans are about to obtain a special visa partnership with the European bloc. Mr Neves said that the Cape Verde-EU mobility partnership negotiations had seen "considerable progress," and he expected a signature of the agreement "later this year."
This agreement aims to create special facilities for obtaining visas for entry into the Schengen area for Cape Verde citizens, such as reducing the time for decision making in relation to the issuance of a visa or not, the establishment of preferential rates or total exemption of visas, among other issues. It was also an effective way to combat illegal immigration, according to Mr Barroso and Mr Neves.
According to information forwarded afrol News, the Brussels meeting also treated the possibility of a substantial increase of contributions by European Commission funds through the European Development Fund (EDF) to support Cape Verde's transition from a least developed country to a medium income country.
In addition, the West African archipelago may benefit from other funds such as the V-Flex (Vulnerability Fund) and also the framework of the EU to combat climate change under the Regional Indicative Programme for West Africa, PM Neves was told in Brussels.
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