The most moving moment of my visit to Guadeloupe for the 20th Conference of Presidents of the EU’s Outermost Regions was a visit to the Mémorial ACTe, the Carribean centre for expression and memory of the slave trade.
The Memorial will be inagurated on the 10th of May, the French national day of remembrance of the abolition of slavery and slave trade, but the (still under construction) building is already a striking appearance: the architects imagined a web of silver roots on top of a black box, a homage to the millions of destinies and lives shattered by slave trade.
The Regional Council of Guadeloupe and the architects of the complex wanted this to be not only a place of remembrance, but also of understanding and of reconciliation, an atmosphere that exudes through every detail of this fascinating complex.
The Memorial serves both a cultural and an economic purpose: the combined effect of urban renewal and the creation of a tourist attraction will definitely improve the level of employment in the region as a result of the economic activities generated.
The European Regional Development Fund co-financed the Memorial and also invested in the Port of Pointe-à-Pitre, situated in its close vicinity. The purpose was to expand the port's capacity to better deal with maritime traffic and face natural disasters. Located in a region vulnerable to natural disasters, but open to international trade, the port is a highly sensitive infrastructure for the economy of the archipelago.
I was really proud to see these fine examples of using European funds to improve regional growth and have an impact on people’s lives. I would encourage the outermost regions to build further on the long tradition of using European funds, and to show us their unique assets, often unknown to other European regions.