Economic Affairs Policy Advisor Courtney Hassell of the Public Entity Saba attended a Kingdom workshop on Bonaire on April 18, 19 and 20 about European Union (EU) funding.
The workshop was organized and funded by the Ministry for the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) and was officially opened on Tuesday, April 18 by State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalization Alexandra van Huffelen and Caribbean Netherlands Special Envoy for EU funds, United Nations (UN) funds and economic relations with Latin America Edison Rijna.
The aim of the workshop was for partners in the Kingdom to jointly work towards a more intensive collaboration in order to make better use of EU funding. The accessibility and complex procedures of EU funding are often a challenging factor for the islands which have limited capacities.
Invited to the workshop were all six Dutch Caribbean islands. Representatives of the individual islands gave a presentation about the ongoing projects on their island, the challenges that they face and the ambitions that they have with regards to EU-funded projects.
The Ministry of BZK gave a presentation about its role and what it can do for the islands in their relations with the EU. A workshop was held to determine the opportunities of the Kingdom the EU and to define the joint goals as EU Countries and Territories Overseas (OCTs).
Furthermore, there were presentations by the European Committee about the Intra-regional Program and about strategic communication. On the last day, Thursday, April 20, a plan of approach was drafted with concrete agreements and timelines how the Kingdom will join forces to submit EU funding requests.
Participants visited several projects on Bonaire that were financed through the 9th and 10th Economic Development Fund (EDF) of the EU, including the new Galileo Sensor Station. At the end of the three-day event, participants visited the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise which came to Bonaire to raise awareness for climate change.
According to Hassell, the workshop EU funding was very valuable. “It was great to meet the representatives of the other Dutch OCTs and learn more about the challenges we face and common interests we share. Together, we have decided on areas where we can increase our collaboration and I look forward to working on the next steps together.”
Opportunities also for Saba
The EU published:
“The Commission’s renewed Strategy for the EU’s outermost regions puts people first and unlocks their potential
The EU outermost regions – Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint-Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal) and the Canary Islands (Spain) – are nine EU regions located in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, in the Caribbean basin and in South America.”
Again: Not for the Dutch Caribbean???!!!
I started lobbying for changes in the relation between the EU and the Dutch Caribbean 12 years ago but the Dutch government refused to listen!