Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo attended the recently concluded Joint Ministerial Council 2015 in London.
The meeting brings together political leaders and representatives of the UK and the Overseas Territories at Lancaster House on December 1-2.
The Joint Ministerial Council is the highest political forum under the 2012 White Paper, created for the purpose of providing leadership and shared vision for the Territories. Its mandate is to monitor and drive forward collective priorities for action in the spirit of partnership.
A JMC Communique was released following the conclusion which reaffirmed the council’s commitment to matters related to the functioning of the Overseas Territories stated in key areas including economic development, tax reforms, child protection, sports, climate change and the environment.
The communique noted that “the UK and the Territories commit to ensure the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the people of the Territories and their just treatment and protection from abuses. The principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, as enshrined in the UN Charter, applies to the peoples of the Overseas Territories.
“We affirmed the importance of promoting the right of the peoples of the Territories to self-determination, a collective responsibility of all parts of the UK Government.
We committed to explore ways in which the Overseas Territories can maintain international support in countering hostile sovereignty claims. We agreed that the fundamental structure of our constitutional relationships was the right one -powers
were devolved to the elected governments of the Territories to the maximum extent possible consistent with the UK retaining those powers necessary to discharge its sovereign responsibilities – while agreeing the need to review the effectiveness of
constitutional arrangements over time.”
On the matter of Prosperity and Economic Development, the statement noted a reiteration of “our shared vision to work together to ensure the Territories reach their full potential as open, dynamic and sustainable economies, delivering growth,
prosperity and employment for their citizens, without hindrance from other nations.
“We affirmed that all Territories are unique and diverse in their economic development. Collectively they play a distinctive and valuable part in the global economy. We recognised that some Territories faced challenges as a result of the small size of their economies, vulnerability to natural disasters, difficulties with access to telecommunications and remoteness.
“We highlighted the importance of citizens and businesses of the Overseas Territories having access to merchant and correspondent banking services, the lack of which can have a damaging effect on economic growth. The UK government
agreed to support the Overseas Territories in liaising with UK banks to ensure that Territories have full access to banking services. We agreed to work together – to maintain viable banking and financial sectors. We welcomed in this respect the creation of Gibraltar International Bank.
“We welcomed steps taken by the Overseas Territories to meet global standards in a range of areas, noting for example, the European Commission’s recent decision to declare Bermuda’s commercial insurance regime fully equivalent to the Solvency II
standard and the BVI’s rating of ‘largely compliant’ on information exchange for tax purposes by the OECD Global Forum this year.”
On Development Assistance and Infrastructure, the communique reaffirmed “that the reasonable assistance needs of the Overseas Territories are a first call on the UK’s international development budget. The UK Government committed to expediting infrastructure development in the Territories to facilitate improved transportation, communications, commerce and provision of social and community development within agreed timelines. We welcomed recent investments in civil engineering and infrastructure projects in the Territories and the assistance offered by Infrastructure UK for Territories seeking sustainable financing for major projects.”
Read the full communique from the Joint Ministerial Council 2015 here : https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/481961/Overseas_Territories_Joint_Ministerial_Council_2015_Communique.pdf