SINT MAARTEN/BELGUIM – On Tuesday September 3rd, the Honorable Prime Minister & Regional Authorizing Officer for Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT’s), Leona Romeo-Marlin, continued her working visit to Brussels where she met with the European Commission Director of Development Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mrs. Jolita Butkeviciene and her staff.
The Prime Minister started the meeting by reiterating her commitment to the construction of a wastewater treatment plant in cooperation with French Saint Martin. During the meeting, a number of matters that still needed to be addressed were discussed and the Prime Minister ensured that any outstanding concerns would be followed up immediately in order to speed up the process.
Moreover, Director Butkeviciene was elated to inform the Prime Minister that 7 million euros allocated for the building of two multi-purpose shelters was approved and the European Commission looks forward to implementing the project after the hurricane season 2019 has ended.
Director Butkeviciene ended the meeting by sharing her concerns for Anguilla given the upcoming Brexit outcome. Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin indicated that given the economic, historical and cultural ties between our islands, Sint Maarten would do what it can to support Anguilla post Brexit. She further informed the Director that Sint Maarten has been an advocate within the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) to guarantee the continued cooperation with the British OCTs after Brexit.
The Prime Minister also met with VVD Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Malik Azmani and D66 MEP Samira Rafaela, both of whom are newly elected members following the European Parliamentary elections held last May. Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin made use of the opportunity to inform the MEPs of the status of the reconstruction on Sint Maarten, as both MEPs were very interested to hear more about the progress made thus far and the cooperation with the World Bank.
MEP Rafaela stated that she has a keen interest in the concerns of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) being that she has roots in Curacao. As such, she promised to champion any OCT or Kingdom related issues on behalf of Sint Maarten and the rest of the Dutch Caribbean. Furthermore, she informed the Prime Minister of her intended visit to Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius in the near future, in order to get a better perspective on the islands, the people and their specific concerns. The Prime Minister encouraged such and offered to assist the MEP with the preparations for her visit.
The Prime Minister and MEP Rafaela also discussed their shared interests, such as, safety, social equality and climate change mitigation. Additionally Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin stressed the importance of the latter from the perspective of the wider Caribbean and urged the MEP to advocate for continued support to the region, as even though the Caribbean’s percentage of emissions remains rather low globally. On the contrary, the negative impact on the Caribbean is high as the region continues to face the annual threat of being struck by severe natural disasters such as Hurricane Dorian.