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The Tristan Times - Tristan da Cunha
The online newspaper of Tristan da Cunha
  Issue No. 566 Online Edition Tuesday 2 September 2014 
Home | Categories | Government Please tell us what you think of this article. Tell a friend Print Friendly

Tristan : EU - OCT FORUM, 26- 27 SEPTEMBER, ILULISSAT, GREENLAND: UK STATEMENT
Submitted by Tristan Times (Juanita Brock) 07.10.2012 (Current Article)

Deputy Director General, Premier Kleist, Minister, Premiers, Heads of Delegations and other distinguished guests, the Minister for the British Overseas Territories, Mark Simmonds, canít be here today as, like the Commissioner, he has travelled to New York for the General Assembly. He has asked me to read the following message:

EU - OCT FORUM, 26- 27 SEPTEMBER, ILULISSAT, GREENLAND:  UK STATEMENT

 

Deputy Director General, Premier Kleist, Minister, Premiers, Heads of Delegations and other distinguished guests, the Minister for the British Overseas Territories, Mark Simmonds, canít be here today as, like the Commissioner, he has travelled to New York for the General Assembly. He has asked me to read the following message:

 

ďI have taken up my appointment as the Minister for the British Overseas Territories at an important moment in the evolution of the relationship between the European Union and the Overseas Countries and Territories. The European Commissionís proposal for a new Overseas Association Decision gives an opportunity to reflect both the importance and the maturity of the relationship; a maturity which has been reflected in the discussions and consultations which have brought us to this point.

 

The importance of economic development based on sound planning and sound public financial management, together with safeguarding the environment, is perhaps clearer now than it has ever been.

 

These were the main themes of the British Governmentís White Paper on the Overseas Territories published in June. The Prime Minister said in his Foreword:

 

 ďThe Government is ambitious for our Territories as we are ambitious for the United Kingdom. We want to see our communities flourish in partnership, with strong and sustainable local economies. We see an important opportunity to set world standards in our stewardship of the extraordinary natural environment we have inherited.Ē 

 

The Prime Ministerís words demonstrate that the UK and the Commission, in their proposal for a successor to the Overseas Association Decision, are thinking on similar lines. We therefore broadly welcome it.

 

The Commission has included many of the points in the 2011 Joint Position Paper. It would be impossible to take on board every suggestion, but we are pleased that the proposal aims to help the Overseas Countries and Territories build more diverse and resilient economies, has given a higher profile to the sustainability of their natural resources and the protection of their environment, and promotes greater regional co-operation where this is possible. 

 

We recognise and support the Commissionís view that there are certain standards which we must all uphold. These standards should be implemented via laws and regulations specific to the circumstances of that Overseas Country and Territory in line with the constitutional arrangements between the OCT and their associated Member State.       

 

The EU is a significant donor to the Overseas Countries and Territories but Territories have continued to struggle to access EU funding in a timely way. While recognising the ongoing discussions on the EU Budget as a whole, we welcome that the Territories shall be eligible for Union programmes and instruments provided in the Unionís General Budget.  This should be more than just words, and the small print associated with each of the programmes should not be written as to effectively exclude the Territories. We call on the Commission to continue to provide funding for the Territories that need assistance and to simplify procedures, reduce bureaucracy and speed up decision making.

 

There may be differences of view or emphasis as the negotiations move forward and the British Parliament will be watching us closely.  We should continue to work together to ensure that at the end of the process we have a successor to the Overseas Association Decision which further improves the quality and standard of living in the Overseas Countries and Territories. It should be a Decision of which we can all be proud.

Mark SimmondsĒ

 

Mr Chairman,

 

The Minister has set out in broad terms the UK Governmentís view on the proposal for the new OAD. They are familiar themes.

 

It is important to recognise the remarkable diversity of the Territories, and recognise the uniqueness of each of the Territories Ė points which have already been made this morning.

 

Many will think that the amount of funding available to the Territories from the EU will be the benchmark as to whether we have been successful. Money, although important, is not the only measure, and should not be seen in isolation. The UK is looking for budgetary restraint in the next Multi Annual Financial Framework and no single heading should increase beyond real growth. We will continue to push to improve the effectiveness of development spending under EDF. Those Territories which do not receive a territorial allocation should consider how they can make best use of funding for regional co-operation.  It is too early to say what will be the benefits from the current regional project in the Caribbean to support SMEs. It should be used as an opportunity to develop further local economies. All Territories should also, with Commission and their Member Stateís support, look to see how they can make best use of the other horizontal programmes which, under the Proposal, will become available to them.

 

I would like to take the opportunity to put on record that the UK is grateful for the assistance the Commission has provided to the Turks and Caicos Islands, with the re-instatement of EDF 9 and agreement to proceed with EDF 10.

 

The UK welcomes the Commissionís comments on the simplification of procedures. We therefore look forward to seeing the Commissionís proposals for this under the financing instruments.

 

We welcome the specific Articles on the environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction. The Territories are internationally recognised as home to many species found nowhere else in the world and each of the Territories depend on these assets in some way. Yet they face constant threats, such as climate change and land use change, the impacts of which are already being felt. Taking better account of, and valuing, the goods and services that the environment delivers should bring long term benefit to the Territories in the form of sustainable growth and economic prosperity. Access to LIFE and other environment funding streams will help.

    

Mr Cornaro made some welcome comments on trade this morning. The Trade Articles give significant detail and it will be important that all involved fully understand the technicalities of what is being proposed. We must avoid imposing an undue administrative burden for the OCTs.

 

From 2014 the Territories will no longer benefit from preferential arrangements under the General System of Preferences. We have noted therefore that under the Proposal duty free and quota free access to the EU has been retained. This is welcome. We also note that the Proposal introduces significant changes to the Rules of Origin and welcome the removal of restrictions on crewing requirements for fishing vessels and the removal of import quotas.

 

The proposal is a good basis for future discussions between the Commission and all EU Member States. Neither should we forget that the Territories have an important part to play. I know that the Commission and the Member States will listen carefully to interventions made throughout this Forum and beyond and reflect on the points made.

 

In 2020 when we come to look again at the relationship between the EU and the OCTs I hope we can say that our ambitions have been met. This will be the measure of the new OADís success.

 

September 2012

 

 

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