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Date: 15/06/2011

Cape Verde – an African success in partnership with the EU - 14/06/2011


Cape Verde is a functioning multi-party democracy with a growing economy and falling levels of poverty. It managed the transition from a one-party system to a democracy 20 years ago, and has never looked back.

Power has changed hands regularly and peacefully several times, following successful elections. It graduated from ‘least developed status’ in 2007 and GDP/capita in power purchasing parity has now reached USD 3646. This figure continues to grow, mainly driven by the expanding tourism industry. A few weeks ago, Cape Verde's Central Bank increased its growth prognosis for 2011 to 5-6%. The country is on track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Remarkably, it achieved the MDG on access to drinkable water as early as 2007 – 8 years ahead of target. Some indicators, such as life expectancy which stands at 71 years, are now approaching EU levels.

Cape Verde is, in other words, a genuine African success story. The EU has contributed to this success not just with classical projects in water and sanitation, infrastructure, health and other sectors, but above all with the provision of budgetary support to the Government of Cape Verde, for the implementation of its poverty reduction strategy. Cape Verde is considered a model case in the effective use of budget support, as it has consistently improved its public finance management systems.

Cape Verde's success has been achieved in spite of the country's small size and remoteness – 500,000 inhabitants on 10 islands – and in spite of massive emigration, it’s a lack of natural resources (except some fish stocks), serious water shortages and little arable land. Its development is testimony to the importance of good governance. This also makes it a valued partner for the European Union. Our partnership is based on shared values, especially democracy and human rights, and also shared interests, such as protecting ourselves against illegal trafficking, in particular of cocaine. Because Cape Verde is a model country in so many ways, it has a particular value and role to play as positive example.

In the light of Cape Verde's rapid progress and its changing and evolving development challenges, in 2007 the EU upgraded its cooperation to that of a Special Partnership. The Special Partnership has since then been the cornerstone for our relations with Cape Verde. Its key features are a deep and broad dialogue, combined with broad cooperation covering a range of areas from security, to mobility and poverty alleviation. Most recently a Cape Verde-EU meeting at Ministerial level took place in Cape Verde, on 6 June 2011. It was the fourth such meeting since the Special Partnership began.

Such Special Partnerships – like this one between Cape Verde and the EU – may well point the way to the future, as to how best to partner with a resurgent, confident and rapidly developing African continent.