Montserratian Leader encourages E.U. Commission to defend the O.C.T’s
Outgoing chairman of the Overseas Countries & Territories Association (OCTA) Montserrat’s Reuben T. Meade encouraged the European Union Commission to defend the OCT’s in the international fora where they have no voice.
Meade was speaking at the opening of the three-day EU-OCT Forum in Brussels, where he spoke on behalf of the ministers of the OCTA.
“The OCT’s have exhibited willingness to, and have complied with international norms and standards on the basis of a level playing field, as well as principles of good governance, accountability and transparency. Too often the territories have the feeling of being less than important in the European Union family.
“We note the Commission’s insistence on the implementation of these standards, (even in territories with low risk) without appropriate support, while at the same time diverting investments away from their economies through onerous regulatory hurdles for both the investors and the territory. Meeting these standards are costly and given the declining fiscal position of the Territories it is only natural at times for OCTs to raise concerns about the intentions of the Commission,” Meade’s statement read.
He said the leaders in the OCT have supported “the OCTA Road Map and 2010 Strategic Plan adopted by all the OCT governments at the Ministerial meeting in March 2010. We are grateful for the launch of the long term technical assistance to OCTA scheduled for August 2012. I want to reiterate our commitment to supporting the preparation of strategies, policies and plans for OCT economic, environmental and social development which we hope will be adequately funded in EDF thematic regional allocations.
“Notwithstanding my observations, I cannot discount the fact that since the 2001 OAD, the Member States relationship with the OCTs has strengthened and progress has been made in increasing OCT competitiveness, reducing our vulnerability and strengthened regional cooperation in the framework of the revision of the OAD. However, the road thus far has been tedious and difficult.”
During the OCTA Ministerial Conference on Monday, which Premier Meade chaired, the group adopted and signed the Political Declaration.
Montserrat’s top official called upon the Commission to consider the following ten (10) key areas as set out in the Political Declaration:
- Partnership between the EU and the OCTs
- Management of OCTs Affairs
- Long term Technical Assistance to OCTA
- Partnership Working Parties (PWP)
- Territorial Strategies for Innovation (TSI) & Regional Projects
- Environment and Climate Change
- Equal Treatment for all OCTs
- Rights of OCT Citizens Green growth
Since it was formally created in 2003, the responsibilities of OCTA have steadily grown and the team has shouldered the additional work in a gracious manner, Meade told the gathering. He added that the OCTA’s policy objectives for 2012 are ambitious but essential. They cover three broad areas of cooperation, capacity building and communication.