Europe comes to the aid of islands and mountains (Parts 1 & 2: Guadeloupe)

In two episodes of Europe Now, Armen Georgian presents “the idea of levelling up, that is to say, reducing inequalities across the European Union.” The show, co-funded by the European Union, is presented by Armen Georgian, produced by Johan Bodin, filmed on location by Johan Bodin and Stéphane Bodenne, with Luke Brown. The editor in chief is Caroline de Camaret. Episode 1 includes interviews with Ary Chalus (President of the Guadeloupe region), Charly Vincent (Head of Guadeloupe Fishermen’s Union), and Yanick Lubbin (Career Trainer), among others. Episode 2 includes interviews with Patrick Vial-Collet (President of Guadeloupe’s chamber of commerce and industry), Maxette Pirbakas, French MEP (Independent), and Victorin Lurel, Socialist senator and former Guadeloupe regional president. Watch the episodes through France 24. Georgian describes:

Whether they’re islands, mountains or territories far from the mainland, such areas are considered by the EU to be regions with a strong natural geographical handicap. The EU’s cohesion policy, with its powerful budget, gives these regions substantial resources to help them try to catch up with metropolitan areas. The Europe Now team travels to the French overseas department of Guadeloupe to take a closer look.

With the goal of “levelling up” in mind, nine Ultra-Peripheral Regions, or UPRs, have received €13 billion over the last seven years. Six of these UPRs are French. In the case of France, around 18 percent of the total EU Structural Funds goes to 3 percent of the population. On the face of it, that’s a major boost for UPRs. But is that money being used optimally?

We went to see for ourselves in Guadeloupe, an archipelago nearly 7,000 kilometres from the French mainland. It is set to receive a billion euros from the EU in 2021-2027. Unemployment is around twice the national rate; a third of the population lives below the poverty line and water shortages are frequent. So why does more EU investment not necessarily translate into better living standards?

In the first part of the show, we travel to the fishing port of Sainte-Rose to meet Charly Vincent, who represents hundreds of fishermen and is a staunch supporter of small-scale, non-industrial fishing. We also interview the president of the Guadeloupe region, Ary Chalus, who sets out the benefits but also the limits of what EU funding can do.

Nearly two-thirds of water held in ageing pipes leaks before it reaches consumers. After years of neglect, the EU is contributing to major new efforts to improve the situation – but is it enough? FRANCE 24’s roving Europe reporter Luke Brown meets people who have had enough of decades of bad management. [. . .]

In part two of the programme, we meet the president of Guadeloupe’s chamber of commerce and industry, Patrick Vial-Collet, who also owns the island’s only five-star hotel. He gives us a taste of the hospitality sector’s post-Covid recovery and touches on efforts to create jobs in that industry.

MEP Maxette Pirbakas meets us in the famous Parc de la Source to show us Guadeloupe’s biodiversity and to highlight her efforts to promote that at the EU level.

Socialist senator and former regional president Victorin Lurel takes us on a tour of MACTe, Guadeloupe’s spectacular memorial and culture centre dedicated to the memory of the slave trade, which was co-financed by the European Union. [. . .]

For more on Part 1, see

For more on Part 2, see

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