Romeo-Marlin at meetings ahead of OCTA-EU Forum

BRUSSELS, Belgium–Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and her delegation are attending two days of meetings in Brussels ahead of the sixteenth Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA)-European Union (EU) Forum.

The first meeting was at the EU Directorate of Development Cooperation and consisted of a trilateral discussion on the progress of EU-funded programmes. The second meeting was discussions among the kingdom partners on the relationship between the EU and the other Dutch OCTs after 2020 and was held at the office of the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands in Brussels.

In the trilateral meeting, Romeo-Marlin discussed the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Territorial Project which is related to the finalisation of the Dutch Quarter sewerage and public infrastructure project. The contract for the works will be signed on Wednesday to the tune of 4.7 million euros. The signing will ensure that the execution will begin in 2018.

The 11th EDF Territorial Cooperation Project was also on the agenda. It consists of three joint projects between the Governments of St. Maarten and St. Martin – a wastewater treatment plant on the Dutch side with wastewater pipes running from both sides of the island, clean-up and economic development of Simpson Bay Lagoon and the connecting of a drainage runoff from Belvedere to Belle Plaine to prevent possible flooding in those low-lying areas.

In relation to recovery after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Government has requested 10 million euros to build affordable and sustainable housing. Approval of this request is pending and was further explained to the European Commission by the St. Maarten delegation.

Beneficiaries of the Housing Project will include the elderly, single-parent families and low-income earners who may have been displaced after Irma. The Council of Ministers has signed off on the Housing Project, which will lead to the project being prepared and ultimately proposed to the European Union.

The fourth agenda point targeted unused funds of the 10th EDF Regional Programme. Some three million euros has not been used and the European Commission is looking into the possibility to reactivate this sum for a sub-regional project to aid small and medium enterprises. The funds will be used to build resilience across the small business sector.

The meeting at the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands highlighted the debate on the relationship of the Dutch OCTs with the EU after the end of the current EU financial framework. The discussion centred on how the Netherlands can include its OCTs in the negotiations on the future financial cooperation between the kingdom partners and the EU. Important was the issue of Brexit and how this affects the position of the Dutch OCTs in the post-2020 negotiations.

Curaçao Prime Minister Eugene Ruggenaath spoke on behalf of the Dutch OCTs. He presented the unified position of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom in seeking a mutually beneficial partnership with the EU.

Source: The Daily Herald