Ministers discuss EU relationsPOSTED: 07/27/11 1:24 PM
St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, led discussions regarding the country St. Maarten’s vision, strategy, relations and development cooperation with the European Union (EU) and the Overseas Country Territory Association (OCTA) in the Council of Ministers recently. The meeting was facilitated by the Department of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BAK).
The objective of the meeting was to brief the members of the Council of Ministers on how the country will move forward since the last EU-OCTA Forum that was held in New Caledonia earlier in the year. The meeting was attended by the prime minister and several civil servants attached to different ministries. Two important documents were signed during the visit, namely the Joint Position Paper on the future of relations between Overseas Countries & Territories (OCTs) and the EU and the OCTA Political Declaration.
During the briefing in the Council of Ministers, presentations were made by the Secretary General of Ministry VROMI Louis Brown, Loekie Morales, BAK and Khalilah Peters, Senior Policy Officer at the Directorate Foreign Relations. Both of the latter departments falls under the Ministry of General Affairs, a portfolio held by the prime minister. The briefing also dealt with the legal framework governing OCTs; the cooperative framework between the EU and the OCTs; development programs; and the national strategy.
The Cabinet of Minister Plenipotentiary of St. Maarten in The Hague is also assisting with preparations of the process of developing an EU dossier for the country as St. Maarten became an OCT in its own right when it obtained country status last October. The OCTs are non-European countries and territories that have special relations with EU members, such as Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The OCTs are associated with the European Community with the goal of promoting their economic and social development and establishing closer economic relations between them and the Community as a whole.
The European Community Treaty states that the association of the OCTs with the Community ‘shall serve primarily to further the interests and prosperity of the inhabitants of these countries and territories in order to lead them to the economic, social and cultural development to which they aspire.’ There are approximately 25 OCTs in total constitutionally linked to a European Union member state that are not part of the Community themselves.
The European Commission (EC) suggested building a new relationship between the OCTs, their Member Countries and the EU as a whole in 2005 and has initiated a holistic review of these relations. They also want to consider a substantial revision of the OCT-EC association.