Cooperation with French side seen as ‘way forward’

St. Maarten delegation (from left): EU Representative for St. Maarten Carol Voges, General Affairs Ministry Secretary-General Hensley Plantijn, Minister Plenipotentiary Henrietta Doran-York, BAK Department Head Marc Arnold and BAK policy advisor charged with EU affairs Olivia Lake.

BRUSSELS–Cooperation with the French side is a key component for St. Maarten in its ongoing rebuilding and development efforts. That was a prevalent sentiment of St. Maarten representatives following their recent attendance at high-level meetings held in Brussels, according to the country’s delegation.

  The local delegation attended the third Ministerial Energy Summit in Brussels December 6-7 on the invitation of the European Union’s (EU’s) Association of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA).

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  While in Brussels, the delegation also had several meetings about the possibilities for additional EU funding post-Hurricane Irma.

  St. Maarten received significant attention from the highest levels in Europe during the weeks following Hurricane Irma. The discussions surrounded St. Maarten’s specific situation of being associated with the EU, having status as an Overseas Country of the Netherlands, but also sharing a border with Europe through French St. Martin.

  Minister Plenipotentiary Henriette Doran-York and members of the St. Maarten delegation had meetings with Dutch Euro-Parliamentarians Mathijs van Miltenburg (D66, ALDE), Peter van Dalen (CU, ECR), Agnes Jongerius (PVDA, S&D) and Lambert van Nistelrooij (CDA). It was concluded that the St. Maarten experience was different than what was expected based on previous discussions which take into account the country’s unique position, said the delegation.

  St. Maarten’s experience with EU funding destined for post-Hurricane Irma recovery has been that very little additional funds have been set aside while more funds are actually needed. Previous EU positions made clear that there would be equal treatment for both sides of St. Maarten/St. Martin. In practice, this has not always been the case, said the delegation.

  The Dutch Euro-MPs are said to have expressed disappointment with what has been occurring, as they had expected that St. Maarten would receive similar treatment as the French side, based on discussions held in the EU Parliament.

  In the end it was decided to name a coordinator who will also look for unused funding from the EU or other funding that might be used for recovery of both sides of the island. Among the tasks of the coordinator would be to stimulate equal treatment for both sides of St. Maarten/St. Martin while providing the Dutch MPs in the EU parliament, an opportunity to monitor the progress being made.

  As for the Summit, the delegation gave a short presentation on the status and complementarity between the 11th EDF Caribbean Regional Programme and the so-called 11th EDF Thematic Programme.

   St. Maarten was represented by Doran-York, General Affairs Ministry Secretary-General Hensley Plantijn, Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) Department head Marc Arnold, BAK policy advisor charged with EU affairs Olivia Lake and EU representative for St. Maarten Carol Voges.

Source: The Daily Herald