European Union withdraws from Solomon Islands
By Alfred Sasako
THE European Union, one of the nation’s major multi-lateral aid donors, is pulling out of Solomon Islands – literally – after more than three decades here.
It is heading to Fiji.
No official reason was given for the pull-out and a phone call requesting an interview two days ago was never returned. It is advertising the sale of its large office and residential compound at Lengakiki in suburban Honiara.
The Delegation of the European Commission was first established in Honiara in 1981with a mission to look after both Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. It followed the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on December 1, 2009, and the instatement of an EU Ambassador to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu resident in Honiara. It is one of more than 130 EU Delegations around the world. It has the status of a diplomatic mission and officially represents the European Union in Solomon Islands and in Vanuatu.
Its mandate includes:
- Developing and maintaining good and effective contacts with the national, regional, local authorities and administrations, representatives of the business community, EU Member States’ Embassies, third countries’ Embassies as well as with international and regional organizations/institutions;
- Establishing a close dialogue with the authorities and other stakeholders (civil society organisations, local media) on economic, social, governance, human rights and other policy issues;
- Stating and explaining the European Union position to the national authorities and to local Member States Representatives; and
- Supporting the preparation and implementation of the development cooperation programs financed by the EU.
At the time, the then Ambassador said the European Union’s bilateral relations with the Pacific states of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have developed significantly over the years and continue to grow in scope and strength.
On August 1, 2014, the EU Delegation to Solomon Islands, previously dependent on the EU Delegation to Papua New Guinea, was upgraded to a fully-fledged Delegation. It now also covers relations with Vanuatu.
“It is my aim as EU Ambassador, Head of the Delegation based in Honiara, to help strengthen and deepen even further relations with the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Together with my team, we are working closely with local stakeholders in the two countries, both state and non-state actors, as well as with other international partners.
“Our goal is to help bring about stability, reduce poverty, while supporting democracy, good governance and human rights. Experience has shown that working on both these angles is indispensable for achieving sustainable and inclusive political, social and economic progress,” the ambassador said..
In the 37 years since its inception, the EU Office funded the following projects in Solomon Islands
- Protecting children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse through empowerment and cooperation between November 2015 and November 2017
- Total Cost of the Project: EURO 667736.49 €
- Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in the Solomon Islands Project (SECSIP) from July 2013 and November 2016
- Total Cost: EURO 7136900.00 €
- SICCI Business Development Initiative (March 2013 – February 2016)
- Total Cost: EURO 249546.11 €
- Electoral law reform, political parties systems reform and legal reform to improve women participation in political life (Sept 2015 – Jan 2017)
- Total Cost: EURO 208890.00 €
- Building Human Development: Improving WASH in Solomon Islands (Sept 2011-Sept 2016)
- Total Cost: EURO 2570087.00 €
- Building grassroots democracy in rural and vulnerable areas of the Solomon Islands (April 2010-Dec 2013)
- Total Cost: EURO 127630.00
- Sector reform for rural WASH (Budget Support) (Feb 2015 – July 2019)
- Total Cost: EURO 13000000.00 €
- Strongim Mere: Promoting Women’s Political Participation and Representation in the Solomon Islands (Jan 2014 – Dec2015)
- Total Cost: EURO 355947.27 €
- Strengthening NGO Effectiveness in Solomon Islands (March 2013-Feb 2016)
- Total Cost: EURO 212746.67 €
- Empowering Civil Society to promote gender equality and combat gender discrimination in the Solomon Islands (April 2012 – March 2015)
- Total Cost: EURO 315789.00
While nothing may substantially change in bilateral relations between Solomon Islands and the EU, its relocation to Fiji is likely to impact on the time it takes to get approval for funding.