The Southern African Development Community (SADC) enjoys long standing cordial relations and strong cooperation with the European Union Delegation (EU) in the Republic of Botswana, SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, has said.
Speaking during her virtual meeting with Mr Stefano Gatto, Senior Inspector at the European Union External Action Service on 9 February 2021, H.E Dr Tax highlighted that SADC and EU cooperation is premised on SADC strategic priories in a number of areas of mutual interest. She further highlighted that the greater part of regional integration programmes is implemented at Member States level, while a small fraction is undertaken by SADC Secretariat through advisory, coordination and monitoring, underscoring the need for aligning national priorities and plans to agreed regional priorities.
Dr Tax also indicated that, while the region continues to cooperate with the EU and highly appreciates the cooperation and support rendered to the region, it will be prudent to re-orient and enhance the existing cooperation by focusing more on impactful partnership and timely delivery of programmes.
On achievements, Dr. Tax cited the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Progamme (TTTFP), and Support to Peace and Security in the SADC Region (SPSS) programmes, to have contributed to SADC integration agenda. In relation to TTTFP, she indicated that he programme has contributed to the development and harmonisation of transport and transit policies aimed at promoting trade facilitation in the SADC, EAC, and COMESA Tripartite area. Through EU support, Tripartite Guidelines for Trade and Transport Facilitation were developed and adopted to ensure continuous movement of essential goods and services during COVID-19 pandemic.
With regards to the SPSS Programme, the SADC Executive Secretary highlighted that it has positively impacted the regional integration agenda through interventions aimed at sustaining peace, security and regional stability. These include support for the deployment of elections observation missions that have contributed to the consolidation and strengthening of democratic principles, as well as the development of regional guidelines and training for conflict resolution experts, and mediators. Dr Tax further highlighted that, support towards financial inclusion and trade enhancement initiatives is contributing positively to regional integration.
Mr Gatto thanked Dr Tax for the warm welcome and informed her that when undertaking inspection on their processes and procedures, they look at relations between the EU Delegation and its partners, the host country and the region at large. He emphasised that the EU Delegation in Botswana is characterised by a strong SADC component and the portfolio they manage is high on regional projects.
The purpose of the meeting was to exchange ideas on the existing cooperation between SADC and the EU and how the existing cooperation can be enhanced.