By Khaila Gentle
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Tues. June 21, 2022
Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño is currently in Brussels, Belgium, where he is attending the 15th European Development Days Forum. The two-day forum, organized by the European Commission, is hailed as Europe’s leading forum on international partnerships, and Prime Minister Briceño is one of only three CARICOM Heads of Government (Belize, Dominica, and Trinidad & Tobago) that were invited.
During the opening ceremony of the forum, the Prime Minister spoke on the many ways in which partnerships with the European Union (EU) have aided the development of Belize and the Caribbean.
“Across the Caribbean, commitments by the EU have assisted our governments with green growth and sustainable socio-economic development, along with our efforts to enhance good governance and improve regional integration,” he stated.
Prime Minister Briceño also thanked the EU for its support in searching for a peaceful resolution to Guatemala’s unfounded claim to Belizean territory.
According to the United Nations, the European Development Days (EDDs) forum brings key actors together to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
“We meet in beautiful Brussels at a decisive moment. Not only is the world in the recovery stages of the global pandemic, but we are also witnessing a catastrophic invasion by Russia of Ukraine, whose impact has spread far beyond their borders, indeed far beyond this continent. These shocks have sparked a domino effect of economic uncertainty and social distress, which has compounded the existing vulnerabilities that have plagued Caribbean nations like my own for years,” said the Prime Minister.
The focus of this year’s forum, which takes place on June 21 and 22, is Global Gateway: building sustainable partnerships for a connected world. The Global Gateway strategy is aimed at mobilizing up to €300 billion in green, smart, and inclusive development investments through various partnerships. There are five key themes on which the strategy is focused: digitization, climate and energy, transport, health, and education and research.
“As we come together at this 15th European Development Days Forum, let us ensure that our dialogue is fruitful, our outcomes effective and our alliances enduring. The people we represent and the global community of which we are all a part, are counting on us to turn our words into action,” stated Hon. Briceño at the end of his speech.
The Prime Minister, prior to his departure from Belize, had indicated to local reporters that during the forum he would be meeting with the EU heads of government, including the Prime Minister of Belgium, with the hopes of discussing the establishment of an EU delegation in Belize and the possibility of allowing Belizeans visa-free access to the EU.
Hon. Briceño’s stop in Brussels is the first of several official visits that he will be making over the next few weeks. Last week, at his first-ever press conference since taking office in November 2020, he told local media that he would be out of office for three weeks as he embarks on travels that will take him across a total of three continents.
Following the Development Days Forum, the Prime Minister will travel to Rwanda for the 22nd Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, which officially commences on Friday, June 24. He will also be visiting Lisbon, Portugal for the World Oceans Summit, and Suriname for the handing over of the CARICOM chairmanship to that country’s president, Chandrikapersad “Chan” Santokhi. Lastly, the Prime Minister will travel to Guyana for an official visit, after having been invited to the country by Guyanese president Irfaan Ali.