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MINISTERS FROM THE EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA AND THE INDIAN OCEAN (ESA-IO)  REGION, CHIEF EXECUTIVES OF REGIONAL ORGANISATIONS,  AND HIGH OFFICIALS FROM THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION MEET ON ENHANCING SUPPORT TO REGIONAL INTEGRATION H.E. Eng. Mahboub MAALIM, Executive Secretary of IGAD and Chair of the Inter-Regional Coordinating Committee (IRCC), and on behalf of the other member regional  organizations of the IRCC (COMESA, EAC, IOC and SADC), and Mr Stefano MANSERVIS, Director General of DG Development, European Commission, Brussels,  have called for a High Level Meeting between the Eastern and Southern Africa – Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) region and the European Commission to be held on the 14 – 15 September 2009 in Lusaka, Republic of Zambia, and hosted by the COMESA Secretariat.The meeting will regroup the Ministers from the ESA-IO ACP States responsible for cooperation with the European Union, country high officials including those from the Interational Trade , Chief Executives from the member regional organizations of the IRCC, the African Union, EU Presidency and High officials from the European Commission, as well as observers from other regional organisations and international cooperating partners.

The theme of the meeting is “Enhancing delivery on the ESA-IO regional integration agenda”. Its objectives are to agree on way ahead  to improve alignment between national strategies and the process of deepening regional integration, and, to better harness EU support and aid delivery in general for regional integration namely through the ESA-IO 10th European development fund and the EC regional Aid for Trade(AfT)  packages.

The Meeting will also be an opportunity to strengthen the partners’ political dialogue in Peace and Security and Democratic Governance both under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement and in relation to Partnerships 1 and 3 of the Joint Africa – EU Strategy. Discussions will also be held on the economic and financial crisis, food prices and security ad potential EU response mechanisms. Last but not least a key point in the meeting will be to agree on the process for the mid-term review of the ESA-IO 10th EDF Regional Strategy Paper with ideas to reshape more efficiently the way to deal with EU funding in the context of its support to regional integration.

The European Commission has made available a grant envelope of EUR 645 million to the ESA-IO region under the 10th EDF for the 2008-2013 period.  The EU Aid for Trade Strategy specifies a concrete target of increasing EU trade related assistance to EUR 2 billion per year by 2010 as well as a general commitment to step up development finance for the wider AfT agenda.

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