THE HAGUE–The Parliaments of Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten have formed one front in their talks with Dutch politicians in The Hague this week regarding the controversial Kingdom Law proposal to establish a Dispute Regulation for the Kingdom.
“Hopefully our visit to The Hague will sensitise the Dutch Parliament to our stance on the law proposal that is currently on the table, one that we absolutely don’t agree with,” Chairperson of the St. Maarten Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams told The Daily Herald on Wednesday.
According to Wescot-Williams, who heads the five members of the St. Maarten delegation, the members of the Dutch Parliament who they have spoken with so far show understanding for the position of the Dutch Caribbean Parliaments.
The delegations have been divided into three smaller, mixed groups which engage in talks with the individual members of the Dutch Parliament. This makes the lobby effort more effective, also in terms of time management. “We are talking to as many members of the Dutch Parliament as we can to explain our position and the developments on this topic, and to create understanding,” said Wescot-Williams.
The delegations are hopeful that the law proposal will be adapted to accommodate the wishes of the Dutch Caribbean countries. “We hope that it will be changed. It is not only about how we feel on this topic, but we have quite a number of experts on our side,” said Wescot-Williams. The handling of the law proposal is planned for June, after the Council of State has given its advice.
Members of the St. Maarten Parliament – Silveria Jacobs, Tamara Leonard and Rolando Brison said they generally felt that they were well received, apart from a few critical members of the Second Chamber. They all considered the meetings with the Second and First Chambers of the Dutch Parliament and the Council of State on Tuesday and Wednesday, positive.
Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten are acting as one team. “We will remain one with our colleagues of Aruba and St. Maarten. We have a clear, united message: we are not accepting the law proposal in its current form,” said Chairman of the Curaçao Parliament William Millerson. He said this was the first time the Dutch Caribbean countries were lobbying as one in The Hague, and for good reason.
Chairperson of the Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Curaçao Parliament Ana-Maria Pauletta of the PAR party said, just as the St. Maarten delegation did, that the talks so far were positive. “In general, the people we have met with this week consider our lobby efforts a positive thing,” she said.
Pauletta was very determined about the mission and the common cause that the islands are fighting for. “We want a fair, equal procedure established for the handling of disputes. It can’t be that the Dispute Regulation starts with a dispute and a law that is forced upon the Dutch Caribbean countries. That is not what the Kingdom should stand for,” she said.
The Dutch Caribbean Parliaments are not in agreement with the law proposal that is currently on the table. Submitted by the Dutch government late last year, the proposal does not contain three elements of the joint position that the four Parliaments, including the Dutch Parliament, drafted in 2015 as part of the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO, explained Wescot-Williams. This joint position was reconfirmed in a motion adopted by a broad majority of the Second Chamber late 2015. “We don’t see that position back in the current law proposal,” said Wescot-Williams.
Firstly, the current law proposal does not have the element of a binding ruling in case of a dispute. Secondly, the law proposal does not provide for an independent position of the institute that will handle the disputes. And thirdly, the range of the Dispute Regulation, in the opinion of the Dutch Caribbean Parliaments, should be limited to strictly legal disputes based on the interpretation of the Kingdom Charter.
According to the Dutch Caribbean Parliaments, the current law proposal is mostly an extension of the existing provision of a so-called “internal appeal” which countries can make use of in case they do not agree with a course of action of the Kingdom Council of Ministers. Article 12a of the Kingdom Charter explicitly says that a Dispute Regulation for the Kingdom must be established.
On Wednesday morning, the delegations had an informal meeting with the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations to discuss Venezuela and the effects on the islands. The delegations were able to provide accurate information on the impact of the Venezuela crisis and the related migration to the islands.
Committee Chairman Jan Paternotte said the information shared by the overseas colleagues was most welcome to help the committee members prepare for a general debate on this topic in the Second Chamber next week Tuesday.
Millerson of Curaçao stated that Wednesday’s meeting had been very useful. “The Netherlands doesn’t have a clear view of the accumulation of problems that we are confronted with as a result of the crisis in Venezuela,” he said.
Millerson said a joint approach with the Netherlands was necessary due to the size and complexity of the issue. “We are losing revenues from the refinery, trade and tourism from Venezuela. We have high unemployment, while Venezuelans offer to work for much lower rates.”
Wescot-Williams said St. Maarten was being impacted both directly and indirectly by the Venezuela crisis. “We have direct impact, because Venezuelans are coming to St. Maarten as economic refugees to work, but there is also an indirect impact. Because of our strong ties with our sister islands Curaçao and Aruba, we feel it too. The socio-economic situation in Curaçao and Aruba, and the fact that their system is under pressure reflects on us as well,” she said.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/86913-parliaments-lobbying-in-the-hague-as-one-front