Pacific gets first dedicated European MP
NOUMEA, June 8 (Oceania Flash) - The Pacific will now have its dedicated voice in the European Parliament as a result of Sunday’s elections.
The first Pacific MP is New Caledonia’s Maurice Ponga, a former member of New Caledonia’s governments, who was running for a “When Europe wants, Europe can” list backed by French ruling party UMP.
Ponga, 62, had been officially endorsed during a UMP meeting in metropolitan France in January this year.
As a member of several governments of New Caledonia n the past few years, he has been in charge of agriculture and livestock and more recently of the youth and sports portfolios.
He was instrumental in New Caledonia’s success in a bid to host the next Pacific Games 2011 in Nouméa.
The first New Caledonian politician to have been elected at the European Parliament was former pro-France Kanak Senator Dick Ukeiwé (1989-1994).
As part of new provisions increasing representation for Europe’s Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), one seat was reserved for the Pacific Ocean, and two others for the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean.
Ponga, who hails from a small mining town ion the Eat coast of New Caledonia’s main island, is a teacher by trade.
During his campaign, in the past few weeks, Ponga said in matters related to Europe and the Pacific, the main priority was the tenth European Development Fund (EDF) for the three French Pacific territories (New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna).
He said the EDF should focus, or New Caledonia, in the sectors of renewable energies, education and vocational training.
For Wallis and Futuna, the priority was to develop communication links to the outside world. And for French Polynesia, the priority remained on infrastructure projects, in such fields as sanitation and environment.