Benelux Treaty gives Belgians the right to settle down in St. Maarten

POSTED: 10/8/12 4:10 PM

St. Maarten – On February 3, 1958, the Kingdom of the Netherlands signed the treaty establishing the Benelux Economic Union with the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Like the Dutch-American Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation, this treaty has consequences for St. Maarten more than fifty years later.
The treaty established an economic union between the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its main characteristic: the free movement of persons, goods, capital and services.
The nationals of each party are entitled to freely enter and leave the territory of the other parties that signed the agreement. The treaty stipulates that citizens of the three entities are entitled to equal treatment in each other’s territories – from freedom of movement, sojourn and settlement, to the freedom to carry on a trade or occupation, including the rendering of services. The same goes for capital transactions, conditions of employment, social security benefits, taxes and charges and exercising civil right and the legal and judicial protection of their person, individual rights and interests.
So far no Belgian national has called on this treaty to be admitted by right to St. Maarten, though that could be due to its relative obscurity.
Americans have fought a long and hard battle to get the rights due to them based on the Friendship Treaty, but last month Justice Minister Roland Duncan finally gave in after the umpteenth court ruling confirmed that this treaty is directly applicable in St. Maarten (as a part of the Dutch Kingdom); the first American to be admitted by right under the Friendship Treaty was Claire Lorraine Talmi-Zarelli. Her husband, Oyster Bay beach resort manager Ricardo Perez and his family and Tina Marie Abbott, the co-owner and director of Michael’s Day Cruises N.V. are still waiting for a similar decision.
Americans now simply have to meet some simple requirements to be admitted to St. Maarten: they must have sufficient financial means to support themselves, and they must have housing, medical insurance, and a clean police record.
Once these requirements are met, American citizens are entitled to the same treatment as European Dutch. That means, amongst others, that they do not need a work permit.
Belgians are now able to call on the Benelux Treaty of 1958 to obtain the same rights.

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