Overseas territories agree on sustainable developmentPOSTED: 01/30/12 2:00 PM
BRUSSELS/GREAT BAY – Environment, trade and regional integration are set to become key areas of cooperation between Overseas Countries and Territories and the European Union in the years to come. Discussions at the OCT-EU Forum in Brussels that ended last Thursday focused on how EU development funding can best be used to benefit the territories, and how the cooperation framework can be made efficient in the future. Prime Ministers Sarah Wescot-Williams and Gerrit Schotte attended the forum on behalf of St. Maarten and Curacao respectively.
Participants agreed to concentrate efforts on bringing about sustainable economic development. The purpose is to create growth without increasing resource and energy consumption, several heads of states concluded. This year’s event, which marked the 10th anniversary of the forum, took place at a strategic moment as the legal framework defining the relationship between the territories and the EU is under revision. The future Overseas Association Decision (OAD) and the complementary partnership with Greenland, the location for the next forum, will take shape later this year.
Taking into account priorities highlighted by the territories in a joint position paper, environmental protection, climate change, trade-related issues, and regional cooperation and integration will get special attention.
Participants stressed the need to take into account the specific challenges of each territory. The commission confirmed its commitment to improvements by creating a more flexible framework.
The decision about EU funding for OCTs until 2020 is pending. The commission is considering a budget north of €560 million, including €217.8 million for the partnership with Greenland, and €343.4 million for the other territories.
The 26 Overseas Countries and Territories outside mainland Europe have constitutional ties with the member states Denmark, France, the Netherlands or the United Kingdom.