Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is giving the assurance that Barbados will not be following in Britain’s footstep by breaking away from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Though pointing out that the regional integration movement “usually references the integration movement in Europe as a template”, Stuart said Barbados, sometimes referred to as Little England, had no intention of mimicking the former Mother Country, which is ending its membership in the European Union (EU) after last June’s Brexit vote.
“Barbados over the years has been known as Little England and I just want for the assurance of people here, that there is no intention on the part of Little England to do in CARICOM what ‘Big England’ has decided to do in the EU,” Stuart told a gathering at the residence of the EU Ambassador to Barbados last evening.
Since the Brexit referendum, regional pundits have been concerned about the likely impact on trade between the region and the UK, as well as Europe. It has also put the spotlight back on the CARICOM integration movement, with a few people suggestions that Barbados should quit the regional body as well.
Stuart said Barbados would continue to share similar values with the UK and the rest of Europe, and the island would seek to strengthen its relationship with both London and the continent.
He also said that like the EU, the Caribbean had accepted and recognized the importance of collaborative efforts, “rather than trying to work individualistically”.
“Obviously integration movements have their ups and down, and the European Union is having a little challenge at the moment in terms of the decision of the United Kingdom to bid the EU farewell.
“But the fact that the UK will be leaving the European Union will not subtract anything from this ‘Europeanness’, and therefore we expect that there still be a close working relationship between Europe and the UK, and that the relationship between Europe and the Caribbean and the UK and the Caribbean will continue,” the Prime Minister said.
Pointing out that the passage of time could make a significant difference in human affairs, Stuart stressed that the relationship between the region and Europe remained an “exciting one”, adding that both regions shared a number of universal values.
“We have a very fertile relationship with Europe and at the economic level we have benefited in recent times from a number of conventions,” Stuart pointed out.