Premier Romeo Leads Delegation to OCT-EU Forum

Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo is leading a delegation to the OCT-EU Forum which starts today in Brussels.
Romeo is accompanied by Acting Financial Secretary Lindorna Brade, Country Focal Point for EU Joseph Irish and EU Project Officer Alverna Weekes.
Held on a yearly basis, the OCT-EU Ministerial Conference, the forum and trilateral meetings set the yearly agenda, which manages the relationship between the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT’s) and the European Commission.
During the meetings which run from February 23rd to the 26th at the Renaissance Brussels Hotel, the Caribbean OCTs are scheduled to meet for the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) Ministerial Conference on the 25th.
OCTA was established in 2002 and its purpose is to coordinate the views of the OCTs with respect to a common position to be taken in dealing with the European Commission and the Member States.
The OCTA Ministerial Conference is an annual meeting between the Ministers of the OCTs which sets out the visions, strategy and the action plan to be implemented by the OCTA Executive Committee.
On the final day, the OCT-EU Forum will be held. This is a tripartite meeting that includes the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) of the EU; the European Commission; and the four EU Member States that have such territories (UK, France, Denmark, and The Netherlands).
The Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) include British (5), Dutch (6) and French (1) territories. These OCTs are: Anguilla, Aruba, St. Barthelemy, British Virgin Islands, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Montserrat, Saba, Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten.
This annual Forum is chaired by the European Commission with the aim of outlining the visions for cooperation between the parties, enabling the OCTs to take a full part in the implementation of the OCT-EC association, and to allow a broad-based dialogue to enable the EU, all the OCTs and the Member States to which they are linked to consult each other on the principles, detailed procedures and results of the association.
This year the discussions form two high-level roundtables focused on two major topics of mutual interest:
i) “The new global agreement on climate change and the OCTs’ response efforts”, ii) “Enhancing growth and investment opportunities in the OCTs”.
The Forum is preceded by meetings focused on the implementation and the programming of the EU’s Territorial and Regional programmes of partnership, the European Development Fund.
The European Development Fund is the main instrument providing European Union (EU) aid for development cooperation with the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
Approximately EC$42.9m (14m Euro) has been allocated for Anguilla’s Territorial Programme for the 11th EDF period, 2015 – 2020. This programme will support implementation of its education sector policy, as outlined in its Education Development Plan: Education and Training for a better Future – A Strategy for Education, 2015 to 2020
A total budget of 40m Euros has been allocated to the 11th EDF Regional Programme. Under this Programme, the Caribbean OCTs will collaborate in the areas of Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity. The Caribbean OCT’s are represented by St. Maarten who is the Regional Authorising Officer for the Regional Programme.

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