Published On: Wed, Oct 23rd, 2019

Action needed to secure EDF-funding

PHILIPSBURG — St. Maarten is lagging far behind other Caribbean nations in terms of EU-support. The government has failed to take the steps necessary to establish
, with the European Community, the cooperation programs provided for under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA). As a result, the territorial funding of €7 million ($7.7 million) for the period 2014-2020 has not yet been signed off.

St. Maarten is one of two Caribbean island territories still working on a program to meet sustainable development goals centered on the people. The other nation that is not yet ready for funding under the 11th EDF is Curaçao.

The European Union provides funding for development assistance projects in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) via the European Development Funds (EDF). Funded by voluntary donations made by EU member states, the 11th EDF for 2014-2020 has financial resources totaling €30.5 billion ($33.3 billion).

Currently, the bilateral EU-ACP relationship is governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA), which was signed in 2000 and expires in 2020. It creates the framework for political dialogue and cooperation on a range of issues. To support the Caribbean, the EU has identified four main priorities: climate change, inclusive growth, human rights & good governance and human development. Significant attention is given to environmental sustainability and disaster management. Other areas of attention include key economic sectors for the Caribbean including maritime transport, energy, and tourism.

Last year the disbursements of the budget support programs in Sint Eustatius (first and second fixed tranche: €2.2 million) and Saba (second fixed tranche: €1.4 million) were completed, resulting in increased resilience of the sector renewable energy production and more stable grids.

In the education sector, progress was made supported by the ongoing budget support programs of Anguilla (second fixed tranche: €1.75 million + 2.8 million) and Turks and Caicos (second fixed tranche: €1 million + first variable tranche: €3.8 million + €2 million), making primary education, secondary education and technical and vocational education and training more relevant in meeting the current and future needs of the labor market.

The year 2018 also saw the adoption and signature of the 11th EDF Programming Document for Montserrat (€18.4 million) to support economic growth, as well as to foster developments in focal sector policies such as renewable energy and tourism.

A total of twelve out of 16 OCTs with a territorial allocation finalized their programming the end of 2018. In terms of implementation, during 2018, €58.62 million were disbursed under the 11th EDF for OCTs.

Under the 11th EDF, Sint Maarten is allocated €7 million. In 2013 €4.75 million was made available to St. Maarten under the 10th EDF, meant for the cooperation between 2008 and 2013. Five years later Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin traveled to Brussels for the €4.7 million 10th EDF works contract. The signing of this contract, on February 21st, 2018, signaled the start of the execution phase of the Dutch Quarter Sewerage Project. The Government issued a press release, stating: “Today marks the end of a period of detailed planning and the successful search for a contractor that will bring the project to a conclusion that will benefit the people of Sint Maarten.”

Last year the European Commission approved €40 million for the Caribbean. This 11th EDF Caribbean Regional Program aims to promote environmentally sustainable economic development in the region. The signing of the financing agreement took place at the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) Resilience Summit on October 25th in St Maarten.

The European Commission points out that the year 2019 is crucial for the OCTs. This year the new Overseas Association Decision, the 2021-2027 EU Multiannual Financial Framework and the Post-Cotonou framework are being negotiated, coinciding also with the process of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU. This will be the end of the UK’s contribution to the European Development Fund which is now 14.68 per cent, or €4.5 billion (£3.2 billion).

“In this context, a continued dialogue with the OCTs will be of utmost importance and political relevance,” the European Commission states. “Finally, progress on the programming for the two remaining territorial programs [St. Maarten and Curaçao, ed.] will be essential in 2019 in order to ensure the commitment of the entire envelope is available for OCTs under the 11th EDF.”


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