Prime Ministers discuss committees and upcoming conferencePOSTED: 11/29/11 7:23 AM
WILLEMSTAD – Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte hosted his St. Maarten counterpart (Sarah Wescot-Williams) and Aruban counterpart (Mike Eman) at a meeting on Monday that was a follow-up to their meeting at Arikok, Aruba on December 10, 2010. The meeting started an hour late because the Aruban delegation’s flight was delayed.
One of the main agenda points was the installation of a legal committee and a strategic committee that will be made of civil servants from the three countries. The legal committees will assess the implications of the end of the cooperation agreement between the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, as the former entity no longer exists. The strategic committee must provide an inventory of the areas in which the countries desire continued cooperation, including weather service and aviation.
The three prime ministers also discussed their participation in the upcoming Kingdom Conference, which will be held in the Netherlands on December 14 and the cooperation agreement between the Netherlands and Aruba that was signed on October 27. That agreement will lead to the set up of a working group that will have representatives from both countries and is meant to further develop Aruba as an economic hub for Europe in the region and strengthen the island’s ties with Europe. The agreement also calls for the Netherlands to assist Aruba in administrative reforms that have been suggested in the WODC’s most recent report on the country. That agreement also calls for working groups on cooperation in education, healthcare, police, environment and to explore possibilities for the Aruban government to find favorable terms to refinance its debt.
The opposition MEP faction has criticized the protocol with the Netherlands and claimed that the agreements were so far reaching that the parliament should have been informed before it was signed. They also state that the government was coerced into trading in a great deal of autonomy with the new arrangement so that they get a cheap loan to fix the national debt. Their assessment is based on an analysis conducted by former professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at the University of Aruba Renee Aller and former Director of the Legal and Judicial Affairs Department John de Vries.
The MEP and other opposition MPs have also complained that the government has yet to announce its contribution to formulating the agenda for next month’s Kingdom conference.