Wednesday , October 4 2023

Commissioner Wilson makes plea for more cooperation in Caribbean

Commissioner Ro­lando Wilson was among representatives of the Dutch Overseas Coun­tries and Territories OCTs of the European Union (EU), discussing OCTs future after 2020 with Eu­ropean Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica.

On behalf of OCT, Saba Commissioner Wilson made a passionate plea for more regional coop­eration in the Caribbean region. He also endorsed the standpoint of the Brit­ish OCTs to remain in the OCT structure in one way or the other after Brex­it, considering the close geographical, economic, cultural and family ties between the Caribbean Is­lands.

Commissioner Rolando Wilson (right) posing with European Commissioner for Interna­tional Cooperation and Development Neven Minden (centre) and others during the Minis­terial Conference of the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union (OCTA).

In March, the European Commission will formu­late its standpoint regard­ing the future relationship between the European Union and the OCR.

Commissioner Wilson and delegation members Head of the Planning Bu­reau and Acting Territorial Accounting Officer Bobby Zagers and Policy Advisor and Saba’s Territorial Ac­counting Officer Menno van der Velde also had dis­cussions with State Secre­tary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ray­mond Knops about Saba’s views and thoughts regard­ing its relationship with the EU.

Saba signed the politi­cal resolutions of the As­sociation of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU (OCTA) Min­isterial Conference, which was held in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

During its meeting with the State Secretary, Sa­ba’s delegation clarified the three most important points for Saba and its fu­ture relationship with the EU.

The EU funding mecha­nisms, being the regional programming, the themat­ic programming, and the Economic Development Fund (EDF), are for Saba by far the most important, Commissioner Wilson ex­plained.

With US $3 million made available from the 9th EDF, Saba built 20 social houses with the help of Woonlinie in Zaltbommel, the Neth­erlands.

“The then Head of Hous­ing and Labour at the Min­istry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Mark Frequin was very instru­mental in making that proj­ect a success,” said Wilson. With the $3.2 million of the 10th EDF, 24 social houses will be built this year, which Wilson said, “will take care of the complete waiting list for social housing on Saba.” The second solar park will be built this year with the monies of the 11th EDF, which upon completion will bring the total share of re­newable energy in one year from one per cent to a total of 40 per cent of the energy production on Saba. “In short, as we say on Saba, if it is not broke, do not fix it. The plan to integrate the EDF funding under a fund­ing mechanism with for ex­ample the (African, Carib­bean and Pacific Group of States — Ed.) ACP countries is a bad idea. Just realize that the funding of one EDF mechanism is around 25 per cent of the yearly budget of Saba,” Wilson told State Secretary Knops.

Commissioner Wilson stressed that Saba fully en­dorses more regional co­operation and integration. “The reality is that when in the morning I drink my coffee on my veranda, I can see Anguilla, St. Maarten/ St. Martin, St. Barths, St. Eustatius and St. Kitts and Nevis on the horizon. Moreover, on a bright day, we can see the Brit­ish Virgin Islands, Antigua and Montserrat too. For us more regional integra­tion and trade is a natural course of moving forward,” he said.

Concerning Saba’s future relationship with the EU and the upcoming Brexit, Wilson said, “It does not make any sense to remove the British OCT’s from my veranda view…Keep what you have, keep them on board in some form or fashion, and add more to the cooperation and inte­gration, which is the way forward for us all.”

The Daily Herald.

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One comment

  1. As an advocate of Caribbean peoples’ growth through ties as an integrated movement, I applaud the views and comments expressed by Commissioner Wilson. In reality, the islands of,St Kitts/Nevis,Antigua and Anguilla, to name a few,do geographically form part of the Caribbean region, of which the Dutch islands, Saba, St Maarten and St Eustatius are relatively closely positioned. In view of this natural occurrence, international trade related circumstances and changing weather situations,such as hurricanes experienced throughout the region in recent times, calls for regional integration becomes paramount. We are one Caribbean people and should strive to become more self sustainable,within the governance of democracy and justice.