The European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, and Chief Negotiator Jutta Urpilainen says they are looking at increasing their presence in the Pacific.

Urpilainen in response to queries from Samoa Observer newspaper confirmed that they hope to be more involved with developments in the Pacific as well as increasing its presence “physically”.

While she was hesitant to speak on behalf of the EU when questioned by this newspaper on the possibility of opening an office in Samoa,Urpilainen said it would be something she would encourage her colleagues to do.

And with the signing of the Samoa Agreement on Wednesday evening, Urpilainen is optimistic that their presence in the Pacific will be stronger moving forward.

The EU through this partnership supports programmes and initiatives benefitting multiple countries within the ACP. (African, Caribbean and Pacific).

Under the new long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the EU finances most of its development programmes for ACP partner countries through the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument-Global Europe (NDICI).

This will grant a total financial envelope of around €79.5 billion (US$ 86.35 billion).

The EU provides about 55 percent of world development aid and is a major donor in the Pacific.

It’s trade relationship with Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands is set by the Economic Partnership Agreement.

The agreement was ratified by the European Parliament in January 2011 and by Papua New Guinea in May 2011. The government of Fiji started applying the agreement in July 2014. Samoa acceded to the EPA on 21 December 2018 and Solomon Islands on 17 May 2020 and are applying it since then.

On 19 July 2018, Tonga informed the EU of its intention to accede to the EPA.

Its Pacific headquarters is in Fiji.