SABA — Economic Affairs Policy Advisor Courtney Hassell of the Public Entity Saba attended a Kingdom workshop on Bonaire on April 18, 19 and 20 about European Union (EU) funding.
The workshop was organized and funded by the Ministry for the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) and was officially opened on Tuesday, April 18 by State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalization Alexandra van Huffelen and Caribbean Netherlands Special Envoy for EU funds, United Nations (UN) funds and economic relations with Latin America Edison Rijna.
The aim of the workshop was for partners in the Kingdom to jointly work towards a more intensive collaboration in order to make better use of EU funding. The accessibility and complex procedures of EU funding are often a challenging factor for the islands which have limited capacities.
Invited to the workshop were all six Dutch Caribbean islands. Representatives of the individual islands gave a presentation about the ongoing projects on their island, the challenges that they face and the ambitions that they have with regards to EU-funded projects.
The Ministry of BZK gave a presentation about its role and what it can do for the islands in their relations with the EU. A workshop was held to determine the opportunities of the Kingdom the EU and to define the joint goals as EU Countries and Territories Overseas (OCTs).
Furthermore, there were presentations by the European Committee about the Intraregional Program and about strategic communication, and a presentation of the Dutch Government Enterprise Agency (RVO) about the opportunities that RVO offers for the islands with regard to the EU. On the last day, Thursday, April 20, a plan of approach was drafted with concrete agreements and timelines how the Kingdom will join forces to submit EU funding requests.
Participants visited several projects on Bonaire that were financed through the 9th and 10th Economic Development Fund (EDF) of the EU, including the new Galileo Sensor Station. At the end of the three-day event, participants visited the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise which came to Bonaire to raise awareness for climate change.
According to Hassell, the workshop EU funding was very valuable. “It was great to meet the representatives of the other Dutch OCTs and learn more about the challenges we face and common interests we share. Together, we have decided on areas where we can increase our collaboration and I look forward to working on the next steps together.”