The ACP Observatory on Migration

by Joyce van Genderen-Naar

On Monday 2 August 2010 a press conference and prelaunch of the ACP Observatory on Migration took place in the ACP House in Brussels, with statements from the ACP Assistant Secretary General, Ms. Michèle Dominique Raymond; Head of Governance and Operational Support Section EuropeAid Cooperation Office (AIDCO) European Commission, Ms. Kirsi Pekuri; and Director of the ACP Observatory on Migration, Mr. Laurent de Boeck.

The objective of the Observatory is to produce data on South-South ACP migration flows. There are 12 pilot ACP countries selected, but the research will concern all ACP countries and all ACP regions. The Observatory cooperates with universities in Africa, Caribbean, Pacific and EU. One of the main pillars of the Observatory’s activities is Capacity Building for civil society. They wish to integrate civil society actors in the dialogue concerning policy-making on migration, and give NGO’s, local organizations and individual actors from civil society their say in the process of improving migration policies in ACP countries. Furthermore, these contacts will help to increase the visibility of the Observatory amongst civil-society based organizations.

The Observatory is an institution designed to produce data on South-South ACP migration flows for migrants, civil society and policy-makers and enhance research capacities in ACP countries for the improvement of the migrants’ situation and the strengthening of the migration-development nexus. The total budget for the project is 9 404 776 €. The European Union contributes with 7 994 060 € .

The Observatory will create a network of research centres and private researchers to provide policy-makers, the civil society and the public at large with reliable and harmonized data on ACP migration. It will focus its attention on the migrants’ situation and will foster the inclusion of migration into pilot countries’ development strategies. The Observatory will be officially launched in October 2010. While currently based in Brussels (Belgium), the Observatory will move to one of the 79 ACP countries. The Observatory is open to the participation of Universities, research centres, government agencies, consultants, experts and general public interested in producing or using comprehensive data on ACP migration. Joining institutions will be part of a high-level research network including research facilities from around the world focusing on migration data and migration management policies. The Observatory will function as an exchange platform for migration research papers and expertise. Through its website, the Observatory will publish research studies and papers which will contribute to a better understanding of ACP migration flows and migration and development issues for policy-makers, government officials and general public.

The ACP observatory works with :

A Research Consortium with 15 partners, among which National University of Lesotho, Roma, Lesotho, University of Cape Town (UCT) , Cape Town, South Africa, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD), Dakar, Senegal; Université Gaston Berger, Saint-Louis, Senegal; Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; MOI University, Eldoret, Kenya; Centre for the Study of Forced Migration of the University ofDar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Université de Goma, Goma, DRC; University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji; University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados.

Associated Partners are: The International Migration Institute, Oxford, United Kingdom; The Commonwealth Secretariat, London, United Kingdom; Université de Yaoundé II, Yaoundé, Cameroon; The Economic and Social Research Foundation, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The 12 Pilot Countries are: in West Africa: Senegal and Nigeria; in East Africa: Kenya and Tanzania; in Central Africa: Cameroon and DRC; Southern Africa: Lesotho and Angola; Caribbean: Haiti and Trinidad&Tobago; Pacific: Timor-Leste and Papua-New-Guinea.

PRESS RELEASE: 02/08/2010 – For immediate release

The ACP Observatory on Migration: improving migration research in ACP countries for better policy making
The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States Observatory on Migration is a new institution created to provide reliable data and information on migration flows in ACP countries. The objective is to design better policies to enhance the migration contribution to development. The Observatory will be officially launched in a ceremony foreseen for 25-27 October 2010 which will gather relevant figures from the political, economic and cultural fields both in the EU and the ACP countries.

The European Commission and the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States have partnered in the establishment of an intra-ACP Migration Facility aimed at fostering institutional capacity in the ACP countries and strengthen the civil society with the ultimate aim to include migration issues into national and regional development policies and strategies.
Available data on ACP migration is scarce and often unreliable. In many countries, the lack of relevant information has serious political consequences, since migrants’ need cannot be taken into account by policy makers. Migration is widely considered to present one of the factors influencing development but in many cases it has not been included in development strategies because of the lack of reliable data. According to Laurent de Boeck, Director of the ACP Observatory on Migration, “unlike South-North movements, South-South migration flows have received very limited attention in the past years.

Yet contrary to public perceptions, South-South migration is highly important in many regions and often takes place between neighbouring countries and those with small wage differentials. Drive factors include labour migration, family reunification, forced migration, traditional cross border flows and the effects of climate change”.
The ACP Observatory on Migration will tackle existing data and information gaps by improving policy-oriented knowledge on migration flows between ACP countries. Under the Secretariat of ACP States and funded by the EDF and Switzerland, the Observatory will introduce an innovative approach to enhance research capacities in ACP countries and provide policy makers the tools to improve their action. Information will be provided to general public to improve knowledge on migration issues. Research will focus on the protection of migrants’ rights through several research topics including forced migration, labour migration, migration and health, remittances and migration and climate change. The Observatory will foster networking and cooperation between research institutions, private researchers and government agencies through a website and will conduct research to obtain currently inexistent information. The total budget for the project is 9 404 776 €. The European Union contributes with 7 994 060 €.

An official ceremony will be organized in Brussels on 25-27 October 2010 to launch the Observatory. High representatives from EU and ACP institutions will be present to support the initiative, which strengthens the cooperation between European and ACP countries on migration and development. The launching ceremony will include working session and an artistic event foreseen for the 26th October 2010 where cultural and artistic creations from the ACP countries will be presented to the public.

An ACP Initiative, Empowered by IOM, Funded by the European Union (European contribution: 7 994 060 €) and with the financial support of Switzerland.

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ACP exporters and EU importers discuss EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)

The Public Consultation on the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), that started in April 2010, is still open until Next Monday 31st of May 2010 and contributions can be submitted until the end of Monday.

(Joyce van Genderen-Naar)

The EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is a trade arrangement through which the EU provides preferential access to the EU market to 176 developing countries and territories, in the form of reduced tariffs for their goods when entering the EU market. The GSP scheme is an important element in the EU’s active support for the sustainable development of developing countries.

The present GSP Regulation expires on 31 December 2011. The purpose of the present consultation exercise is to seek comments from interested parties as inputs to the Commission’s work to prepare a future proposal to the Council and Parliament on a successor Regulation. The consultation is aimed at all parties with an interest in the EU GSP scheme, including stakeholders within the EU and in third countries, including beneficiaries.

The report on the Consultation which will be published by the Commission on the Trade website.

View the consultation document

The Commission also organizes specific meetings with interested parties, such as the DG Trade Civil Society Meeting organised on 26 May 2010 in Brussels to discuss the Public consultation on the next GSP regulation with the participants. EU importers need a simple, stable and predictable GSP regulation, was the message of EuroCommerce (the EU retail, wholesail and international trade representation to the EU). In its position paper EuroCommerce says that the companies attracted by the GSP are importers and retailers in the EU, who operate in a highly competitive business environment and will base their planning on the GSP only if the system meets their specific expectations, i.e. simple rules, one year predictability, legal certainty, significant product coverage, a GSP Plus that acts as a true incentive, proper & early stakeholder consultation, preferential rules of origin that work in practice. See: Click Here

ACP exporters who export their products to the EU market under the GSP and EBA stress that the complexity of the Rules of origin, non trade barriers, non tariff barriers and high EU standards make it difficult to enter the EU Market and are the main problem that preferential trade arrangements did not work and will not work. The Rules of Origin should be made more user friendly and adapt to the needs of the ACP countries.

However the Rules of origin are not addressed by the GSP Public Consultation, because there was already a Public Consultation on the Rules of Origin in 2006 and the reform is on its way according to the EC DG Trade.

What ACP (Africa, Carribean, Pacific) countries really need is the processing and distribution of their commodities and raw materials, product diversification, marketing, efficient distribution networks, transport and infrastructure.

Another concern is the artificial line between LDCs and non-LDCs. The suggestion is to add some of the LDCs to the EBA list and to apply it to custom unions in Africa. There should be one scheme (not GSP, GSP+ and EBA) with graduations according to the economic situation of the countries or objective development criteria such as the GDP per capita should be applied. In case of import share as criterion it should be a high percentage for all products.

CARIS (Centre for the Analysis of Regional Integration, University of Sussex) presented its Mid Term Evaluation of the EU’s GSP, a report commissioned and financed by the European Commission. In the executive Summary CARIS says in point 15. that ‘there is little evidence that the EU’s preference regimes have led to a diversification of exports into new products’. Furthermore in point 26. ‘While there are some significant trade and output effects for a sub-set of agricultural commodities and regions (notably fruits and vegetables in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Argentina, sugar products in the Caribbean, North Africa and Sub-Sahara African EBA beneficiaries, oils and fats in North Africa), the substantial expansionary impacts of the EU GSP occur in the textile, apparel and leather goods industries within Southern and Eastern Europe, North Africa, Cambodia and Pakistan.’

‘ Among the EBA regions in the model, Cambodia and Bangladesh benefit most from the EU scheme, while the EBA Sub-Saharan Africa composite region gains very little overall. ‘ (point 25).

‘The bilateral gravity modeling exercise identified some evidence that preferences arising from the EU’s free trade arrangements as well as those applied to the Cotonou countries had a positive impact on trade with the EU, rather than EBA, GSP, or GSP+ arrangements, ‘ according to CARIS in point 23 of the Executive Summary.

Joyce van Genderen-Naar

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ACP and EU Tired of EPAs

By Joyce van Genderen-Naar

The ACP and EU views expressed April 29, 2010 at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels, “EPAs in (times of) crisis” (state of play of the EPA negotiations and implementation and the EPAs in the light of the global crises), made very clear that :

1. 8 years of EPA negotiations (2002-2010) were a disaster.

2. there is a ‘fatigue’ in ACP countries and in EU Members States: the majority is tired of or not interested in EPAs.

3. main reason of the failure is that the European Commission has never listened and never taken serious the concerns and needs of ACP countries and has forced the ACP countries and their governments to conclude the EPAs.

4. ACP representatives spoke about unethical and unrespectful negotiations practices of EU representatives in their countries, putting pressure on ACP exporters to influence their governments to conclude the EPAs.

5. the impact of the global crises (food, financial, economic, climat change) on ACP countries makes it necessary and urgent to rethink the EPAs, and in case of the Caribbean to review and not to ratify the CF-EC-EPA.

7. Calls were made to suspend or block the EPA negotiations.

8. The way forward and other issues were discussed at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels.

9. The presentations will be made available at

What I noticed is that ACP state actors (representatives of Governments and embassies) and non state actors (NGOs, civil society) are together opposing the inflexibility, deadlines etc. of these negotiations. Before only NGOs were against EPAs, now ACP state and non state are in this together, trying to safeguard their economies and future.

The regional EPA negotiations were dividing ACP: Africa (4 regions), Caribbean and Pacific. But what brings them together is the need to defend their common interests: poverty eradication, sustainable development and globalisation, which are not guaranteed by the EPA and the negotiations with the EC. Due to the inflexible EPA negotiations the EC is alienating the ACP countries. ACP countries need their experts not only for EPA negotiations with the EC but also for economic cooperation with Asia and America. That was also an important message of the ACP representatives at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels.

Civil organisations contributing to the organisation of the seminar were: ActionAid, African Trade Network, APRODEV, Africa Groups Sweden, Caribbean Policy Development Centre, ENDA, Forum Syd, ICCO, Oxfam International, Pacific Network on Globalisation, Partnership for Change, SOS Faim, Third World Network Africa, Transnational Institute, Traidcraft, and 11.11.11.(Marc Maes).

The Key note address was made by Martin Khor, Director South Centre: EPAs in times of crises

Civil society perspectives on the state of the play by:

* Maureen Penjueli (Pacific Network on Globalisation): Pacific perspectives
* Cheikh Tidiane Dieye (ENDA) : African perspectives
* Shantal Munro (Caribbean Policy Development Centre) : Caribbean perspectives

The global Food crisis and EPAs :

* Jean-Jacques Grodent (SOS Faim) : The global food crisis and the right to food.
* NN, Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA): Food crisis, EPAs and

African small holders

* Karin Ulmer (APRODEV) : Can better Safeguards help?

Rethinking EPAs:

* Emily Jones (Oxford University): Updating the EPAs in light of the crises
* Sanya Reid-Smith (Third World Network): Services, investments and trade-related issues
* Viviana Munoz (South Centre): Intellectual property rights

Why is there still only one “full” EPA (and should there be more)?

* Debate among representatives of Civil Society, the EU Commission and the ACP

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The history of the disappearance of the reference to the ACP countries from the Lisbon Treaty

The Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States


BANANAS: will the european union confirm that the fight against poverty is no longer a priority in its “global europe” strategy?


At a time when European leaders are gathering to welcome the dawn of a new era with the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty, this change may well prove to be more extensive than anticipated. The coming days could spell the end of the era when Europe considered the fight against poverty a priority.

In the ongoing discussions on the Banana Dossier, the ACP States have made numerous concessions in an effort towards finding a definitive and balanced solution.

In fact, analysis of the European banana market has shown that the customs tariff of €176/t that has been applied to banana imports from Central and South American countries (MFN countries) since January 2006, has sharply increased their presence on the EU market. There is no risk whatsoever, not now nor in the future, given the limited production capacity of the ACP countries that the European market will be “flooded” with ACP bananas. Just one MFN country, like Ecuador for example, could, single-handedly, if it so desired, supply the entire 27-country EU market which, let us not forget, is the only possible trade opening for ACP products.

As a result, it is difficult, at first glance, to understand what is at stake for the European Union when, to the detriment of its commitments to the ACP banana-producing countries, it has proposed that the MFN countries engage in even more extensive liberalization at a faster rate, and suddenly announced an imminent agreement with them.

The ACP countries have repeatedly demonstrated that they fully understand the current trade policy trend which is liberalization. They are therefore in no doubt whatsoever that the trade preferences they currently enjoy will continue to be eroded until they most likely disappear. However, in highlighting the development programme included in the WTO Doha Round negotiations they have merely called for WTO Members to honour their commitments, stressing the need that for any agreement to be balanced, it must necessarily include a transition period with a moratorium, so as to enable the ACP banana-producing countries to adapt to the new market conditions.

In the same context, they recalled the undertaking of the same WTO Member States whereby those among them who granted longstanding preferences must provide financial and additional capacity-building assistance to help remedy supply-side constraints and promote diversification of existing production in the territories of the preference-recipient Members.

In their most recent submission, a pale reflection of their initial demands, the ACP States:

(a) an initial reduction, as “full and final settlement”, from €176/t to €148/t during 2010;

(b) call for the level of 148/t to be maintained, in the event that no agreement is reached on the agriculture modalities of the Doha Round;

(c) accept, in the event of an agreement on the agriculture modalities of the Doha round, a gradual reduction of the customs tariff over ten (10) years, including a 3-year moratorium following application of the first tariff reduction from €176/t to €148/t;

(d) call for financial aid in the sum of 250 million euros, the minimum amount required to meet the needs of ACP banana-supplying countries for the 2010-2013 period; and

(e) an undertaking on the part of the EC to participate in a joint review mechanism designed to assess the situation of the ACP banana suppliers after 2013, and to provide additional resources, as necessary.

In a letter addressed to the heads of several European institutions, including the President of the European Commission, President of the European Council and the President of the European Parliament, Mrs. Eunice Kazembe, incumbent President of the ACP Council of Ministers and Minister of Industry and Trade of Malawi, recalled the fears aroused by the disappearance of the reference to the ACP countries from the Lisbon Treaty. This marks a departure from the texts currently in force, whereas the ACP Group remains the largest grouping of the poorest countries in the developing world, with a longstanding historical relationship with the European Union.

The President of the ACP Council has clearly indicated that Europe has a unique opportunity to allay these fears or to confirm them, depending on the response that the European Commission will give to the ACP demands. This would demonstrate if Europe is definitively adopting an aggressive trade strategy based on its “Global Europe” policy at the expense of a frontline role in the fight against poverty.

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The history of the disappearance of the reference to the ACP countries from the Lisbon Treaty

Below: An article by Joyce van Genderen-Naar


Joyce van Genderen-Naar
Brussels, 16th March 2004.

In the Draft Constitution for Europe, which shall replace the present EC/EU-Treaties, the article on the ACP-EC-Agreement (art. 179. par.3 EC-Treaty) has been left out.
Art. 179 par. 3 EC-treaty decides:
‘ The provisions of this Article shall not affect cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in the framework of the ACP-EC Convention. ‘
Art. 179 par. 3 is a part of the current provisions on Development Cooperation in the EC-Treaty (Title XX) and a part of art. 179 :
Article 179
1. Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Treaty, the Council, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251, shall adopt the measures necessary to further the objectives referred to in Article 177. Such measures may take the form of multiannual programmes.
2. The European Investment Bank shall contribute, under the terms laid down in its Statute, to the implementation of the measures referred to in paragraph 1.
3. The provisions of this Article shall not affect cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in the framework of the ACP-EC Convention.

There is no such article in the Draft Constitution. Title V of the Draft deals with the External Policy of the Union; Chapter IV deals with the cooperation with Third Countries and humanitarian aid. Section 1 concerns Development Cooperation and Article III – 219 par. 1 – 3 will replace the current Article 179 EC-Treaty.
Article III – 219 par 2 inserts the current Article 181 EC-Treaty, ends in par. 3 with what is now Article 179 par. 2: ‘The European Investment Bank shall contribute, under the terms laid down in its Statute, to the implementation of the measures referred to in paragraph 1.’ and leaves out the current Article 179 par. 3 concerning the ACP-EC-cooperation.

Draft EU-Constitution Article III – 219
1. European laws or framework laws shall establish the measures necessary for the implementation of development cooperation policy, which may relate to multiannual cooperation programmes with developing countries or programmes with a thematic approach.

2. The Union may conclude with third countries and competent international organisations any agreement helping to achieve the objectives referred to in Article III – 93. Such agreements shall be negotiated and conluded in accordance with Article III-227.
The first subparagraph shall be without prejudice to Member States’ competence to negotiate in international bodies and to conclude international agreements.

3. The European Investment Bank shall contribute, under the terms laid down in its Statute, to the implementation of the measures referred to in paragraph 1.

Article179 par. 3 EC-Treaty (‘the provisions of article 179 shall not affect cooperation with the ACP-countries in the framework of the ACP-EC Convention’) referes to the special relationship between the EC/EU and the ACP-countries, which is the oldest and largest form of cooperation between Europe and countries from the South (ACP) and stood model for later cooperation with other countries. Historical bounds between Europe and the ACP-countries give Europe a special responsability for these countries, which should not be forgotten and should be a part of the next Constitution for Europe. This responsability stays and is even more urgent, because after 37 years of cooperation 40 of the 79 ACP-countries still belong to the poorest countries in the world. Out of the 48 poorest countries in the world 40 are ACP-countries!! By the Cotonou Agreement signed the 23d of June 2000 the ACP-EC-cooperation has been extended until 2020 with the objectives of poverty eradication, sustainable development and the integration in the world economy of the ACP-countries.

What is the reason for the delete of the current article 179 par.3 EC-Treaty? The following reasons were given by a representative of the European Commission:
Today article 179 par. 3 EC provides for a special form of cooperation with the ACP-countries, which makes it possible to finance the European Development Fund outside the framework of the EU-budget. The EDF is composed by national contributions of the EC-member states. In a first version of the Draft the Presidium of the Convention took over current Article 179 par. 3, but emphasized that the Convention should examine whether this provision should be deleted, because a specific policy or different financing is no longer needed. The final report of the Working Group VII of the Convention, dealing with the external policy of the Union, stated: “there is large support for making EDF part of the general EU-budget, that is why for the EDF the same procedures will be applied as for other areas where financial support wil be given”. The final report made also clear that this should mean an improvement of the efficiency and more focus on poverty eradication of the EU-development programmes in general, and in no way should it lead to the reduction of the support of the ACP-countries.

A majority of the Convention has supported this approach and Article 179 par. 3 EC was left out of the Draft European Constitution.

Other arguments were: the integration of Cotonou in the normal communautarian framework makes it possible to adjust the support in a better way to the real needs, performance and receive capacity of the ACP-countries, while the process of multiannual programmes will stay in tact. It also helps the European Parliament to fully fulfill its budget tasks conform the general line of the Convention. Further details should be provided for in the institutional agreement concerning the financial perspectives post-2006.

My advice to the ACP is to make an official request to the European Commission and Members of the Convention (representatives of the European Parliament and Member States) to insert a provision concerning the ACP-EC-Cooperation in the Draft/New Constitution in view of the special relationship between the EU and the ACP, historical bounds, responsabilities and mutual interest, as agreed by EC and ACP in Article 55 of the Cotonou Agreement: The objectives of development finance cooperation shall be, through the provision of adequate financial resources and appropriate technical assistance, to support and promote the efforts of the ACP States to achieve the objectives set out in this Agreement on the basis of mutual interest and in a spirit of interdependence”.

In principle it is possible that the IGC still decide to insert article 179 par. 3 EC in the future European Constitution. As long as the Constitution is not formal accepted it is legally possible. In contrast with the future Convention in the current IGC only the Governments of the Member States have the power to decide. So they have to be approached in order to save article 179 par. 3 EC. However with regard to the political point of view it will not be easy to insert article 179 par. 3 EC in the New Constitution, because almost every delegation in the IGC has stated that they wish to maintain the draft text of the Constitution with as less as possible adjustments, especially for non-institutional issues. Nor in the IGC at political level nor in the group of legal experts of the IGC the proposition has been made to integrate the ACP-EC-cooperation in the European Constitution. EU-Commisisoner Nielson said during an intervention of the Working Group VII on the External EU-Policy that the cooperation modalities between the EC and the ACP-countries should be revised.

The Convention probably did not consult the ACP. Consultation between the EC and the ACP-states should take place according to Article 12 of the ACP-EC-Agreement in view of the Coherence of Community policies and their impact on the inplementation of the Agreement. Article 12 decides that where the Community intends, in the exercise of its powers, to take a measure which might affect the interests of the ACP states, as fas ar this Agreement’s objectives are concerned, it shall inform in good time the said States of its intentions. Towards this end, the Commission shall communicate simultaneously to the Secretariat of the ACP states its proposal for such measures. Where necessary, a request for information may also take place on the initiative of the ACP states. At their request, consultations shall be held promptly so that account may be taken of their concerns as to the impact of those measures before any final decision is made.


Article 177

1. Community policy in the sphere of development cooperation, which shall be complementary to the policies pursued by the Member States, shall foster:

The sustainable economic and social development of the developing countries, and more particularly the most disadvantaged among them,

The smooth and gradual integration of the developing countries into the world economy,

The campaign against poverty in the developing countries.
2. Community policy in this area shall contribute to the general objective of developing and consolidating democracy and the rule of law, and to that of respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
3. The Community and the Member States shall comply with the commitments and take account of the objectives they have approved in the context of the United Nations and other competent international organisations.

Article 178

The Community shall take account of the objectives referred to in Article 177 in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries.

Article 179

1. Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Treaty, the Council, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251, shall adopt the measures necessary to further the objectives referred to in Article 177. Such measures may take the form of multiannual programmes.
2. The European Investment Bank shall contribute, under the terms laid down in its Statute, to the implementation of the measures referred to in paragraph 1.
3. The provisions of this Article shall not affect cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in the framework of the ACP-EC Convention.

Article 181

Within their respective spheres of competence, the Community and the Member States shall cooperate with third countries and with the competent international organisations. The arrangements for Community cooperation may be the subject of agreements between the Community and the third parties concerned, which shall be negotiated and concluded in accordance with Article 300.
The previous paragraph shall be without prejudice to Member States’ competence to negotiate in international bodies and to conclude international agreements.

Chapter IV: Cooperation with Third Countries and Humanitarian Aid.
Section 1: Development Cooperation.

Article III – 219
1. European laws or framework laws shall establish the measures necessary for the implementation of development cooperation policy, which may relate to multiannual cooperation programmes with developing countries or programmes with a thematic approach.

2. The Union may conclude with third countries and competent international organisations any agreement helping to achieve the objectives referred to in Article III – 93. Such agreements shall be negotiated and conluded in accordance with Article 111 – 227.
The first subparagraph shall be without prejudice to Member States’ competence to negotiate in international bodies and to conclude international agreements.

3. The European Investment Bank shall contribute, under the terms laid down in its Statute, to the implementation of the measures referred to in paragraph 1.

Joyce van Genderen-Naar
Lawyer Brussels Bar

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The Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)


Article by Joyce van Genderen-Naar

ACP-EU Courier, N.11 – May June 2009


The Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) consist of six islands, located in the Caribbean Sea, also known as the Dutch Caribbean. These six islands are: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius.

Five of these islands are the Netherlands Antilles, divided into the Leeward Islands (northern) group (Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten) and the Windward Islands (southern) group (Bonaire and Curaçao). The island of Sint Maarten / Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin in the north and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten in the south. Aruba was part of the Netherlands Antilles until 1986 when it gained its Status Aparte. 

The six islands belong to the Netherlands since 1634, when the Dutch captured them from Spain. Curaçao became a slave trading post and the center of the Caribbean slave trade until the abolition of slavery in 1863. The Dutch West-Indian Trading Company transported the captive Africans from the West-African Coast to Curaçao. Here they remained in camps for some years and were sold to the continent or put to work in the fields or as house slaves. When oil was discovered off the shores of Venezuela in the early 20th century a refinery was built in Curaçao to process the Venezuelan oil. Curaçao and Aruba prospered and an offshore financial sector was created in Curaçao for Dutch business interests. The islands stayed Dutch colonies until 1954, when they received a certain kind of autonomy and together with Suriname became part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Only in internal affairs full autonomy was granted. The Dutch Government remained responsible for defense and foreign affairs of their overseas Caribbean countries.

Tourism, petroleum refining, and offshore finance are the main pillars of the economy of the Netherlands Antilles. Natural resources are beaches and offshore diving sites.

The islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region. The nominal GDP is $3.3 billion and the GDP per capita $17,800. Tourism/services count for 84% of GDP. The real growth rate is 1.2%. Industry is 15% of GDP (petroleum refining in Curaçao, petroleum transshipment facilities in Curaçao and Bonaire, light manufacturing in Curaçao). Agriculture is 1% of GDP with aloes, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables, and tropical fruit as products.

Trade: Exports $3.4 billion, concerning petroleum products. Major markets are U.S. 24%, Venezuela 15%, Guatemala 10%, and Singapore 6%.

Imports $3.5 billion, concerning machinery and electrical equipment, crude oil (for refining and re-export), chemicals, foodstuffs; major suppliers are Venezuela 59.8%, U.S. 12.55%.

Most of the oil that the Netherlands Antilles import for its refineries comes from Venezuela. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported. The USA, Italy and Mexico are the major suppliers. The Netherlands provide financial aid.

The population of the islands speaks Papiamentu, an official language with Spanish, Portuguese and Creole roots. It is the language used at schools, at home, on TV, in the newspapers, in the Courts, for music, poetry, literature etc. 

The dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles

The Netherlands Antilles and the Dutch government agreed upon the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles in January 2010. Curaçao and St. Maarten will receive more autonomous status within the Dutch Kingdom, comparable to the status aparte that Aruba has since 1986. The other three Dutch OCT-islands, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will become a “gemeente” of the Netherlands that is a small Dutch municipality with a Dutch mayor. Which raises the question why in the 21st Century islands want to become more dependent instead of less dependent. An explanation is that they are too small, the population of Bonaire being 11,537, Saba 1,491, St. Eustatius 2,699. Until now the central government of the Netherlands Antilles in Curaçao has taken the decisions for these small islands.

While Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will become a Dutch Gemeente, Curaçao and St. Maarten will become autonomous countries of the Dutch Kingdom. This was agreed with Holland but only under very severe financial conditions. The central government of the Dutch Kingdom in The Hague, the Netherlands, wants to keep financial control and financial supervision of Curaçao. The population of Curaçao gave its opinion on the final agreement to get an independent status in the Dutch Kingdom during the Referendum that took place on 15 May 2009: 52% voted YES and 48% voted NO.   

‘Dushi Kòrsou’: Land of the Sweet (‘Dushi’) Land of the Heart (‘corazon; coraçao’)
Curaçao is the largest island of the Netherlands Antilles. 140.000 people, 40 nationalities, are living together on a surface area of 44 km2, a multi-cultural population with their roots in many countries. Due to the island’s slightly heart-shaped bays, Curaçao received the Spanish name corazon (heart) or Portuguese coraçao. Another explanation is that it is derived from the Spanish or Portuguese word for healing: curación or cura, because of the curative effects of the many tropical fruits. In Papiamentu Curaçao is Kòrsou and well known as ‘Dushi Kòrsou’, which means ‘Sweet Curaçao’.

Curaçao has a geographical favorable position in the Caribbean, just above Latin America (Venezuela), with its many natural harbors, excellent geo-political location, good connections by air and by sea and modern infrastructure. A quite unique spectacle is the huge cruise and cargo ships that daily enter the large natural harbor of Willemstad in the town centre. Curaçao is officially outside the hurricane belt and suffer fewer damages as other Caribbean islands in the hurricane seasons

Tourism and financial services are an important source of income for Curaçao. Average 5 cruise ships each week come to Curaçao, with tourists from the USA and the Caribbean. Tourism from the Netherlands is very high and KLM re-introduced its Boeing 747 to meet the increasing demand from the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia. The economy of Curaçao performs well. Main contributors to the recent economic expansion are: tourism (stay-over tourism grew by 28 percent in 2007 and 30 percent in 2008, cruise tourism triggered a wave of construction of new hotels and expansion of existing ones), the logistics industry including the airport and harbor, the oil industry (increases in refining, storage and transshipment in 2007; in 2008 economic activities in the oil refinery slowed down), financial services sector (expansion in 2007, a deceleration in 2008 due to the international financial turbulence; international financial services develop well due to Curaçaos’ favorable fiscal environment, and the presence of large number of international banks, trust companies, accounting and law firms, international audit firms, international corporate and tax advisors); re-exports by the e-zone companies (decline in 2006 and 2007, reflecting Venezuela’s currency trading restrictions, recovery in 2008). E-commerce contributed to the economic development, using Information and Communication technology (ICT) as a major source of production. Special regulations and laws enable Curaçao to offer special grants to attract investors in e-commerce and to facilitate e-commerce development, local banks offering e-services and financial offshore companies hosting international e-companies.
Regional cooperation and integration

Curaçao has always been an island of trade and an open economy, with commerce and business relations with Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, the United States of America and Asia. There is a strong bond with Venezuela, which is by plane only 35 minutes away. Tourists and business people from Venezuela are daily visiting Curaçao. In November, December 2008 and January 2009 Curaçao experienced a ‘golden period’ with all the dollars spent and all the goods bought by visitors from Venezuela. The so-called credit card tourism from Venezuela is a flourishing business in Curaçao, where they buy a lot and withdraw cash money that will be exchanged in the profitable illegal money market in the Venezuelan streets. Well known are also the small boats with fruits and vegetables that sail daily from Venezuela to Curaçao’s floating market in Punda, the other part of Willemstad.

There is also cooperation with the United States of America, especially in the field to combat narco-trafficking.

A longstanding historic cooperation/relationship exists with Suriname, ACP-Caribbean on the North coast of South-America that was part of the Dutch Kingdom as well until 1975. Since 1930 people from Suriname come to work and to live in Curaçao. Each week there are 4 direct flights from Curaçao to Suriname vice versa. In Curaçao rice, fish and other products are imported from Suriname. Famous was the rice-OCT route: rice from Suriname went from Curaçao to the EU-market duty free. In March 2009 members of parliament from Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles met in St. Maarten and decided to extend the trade and other relations between their countries.

The commercial contact between Curaçao and Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago has become significant during the last 5 years. Trinidad established two major companies, RBTT Bank and Guardian Insurance, in the Netherlands Antilles. Barbados has some investments on the islands and a Memorandum of Understanding between Curaçao and Barbados will be signed soon, covering cooperation in the area of Investment Promotion and Export, Regional Integration, Curaçao’s membership of Caricom, Economic Development Harmonization, Alternative Energy (Solar energy, Wind energy), Innovation in Agriculture, Fair Competition Policy and Consumer Protection, Tourism.

The Netherlands Antilles are an associate member of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). Curaçao is also planning to become a member or associated member of CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market) and is studying what opportunities the Cariforum-EC-EPA could offer Curaçao. A Cariforum-EC-EPA seminar will be organized in Curaçao to deal with these issues. In May 2008 the Chamber of Commerce of Curaçao organized an EPA Fact Finding Trade Mission to Trinidad and Barbados with the participation of public and private sector stakeholders in order to identify Cariforum-EC-EPA business opportunities.

Author: Joyce van Genderen-Naar, Journalist/Lawyer, Brussels, May 2009.

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