By Richie Kock Esq.
EU relief funding for Dutch Sint Maarten
The European Commission will also grant relief funding to hurricane affected Dutch Sint Maarten. The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, confirmed such today in a letter to the Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANP).
Shortly after Hurricane Irma, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild French Saint Martin. The funds would derive from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF). It was uncertain however whether Dutch Sint Maarten would also receive relief funding from the European Union.
The Outermost Regions (OR’s) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT’s)
The difference in treatment of Dutch Sint Maarten / French Saint Martin is grounded in the difference in their status in relation to the European Union.
The Island of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten consists of a French and a Dutch side.
France, as well as other EU Member States, have part of their territory located in areas of the globe that are remote from Europe. French Saint Martin is such a remote territory and possesses the status of Outermost Region (territoir d’outre mer). OR’s are an integral part of the European Union. Therefore, all EU legislation, rights and principles such as equality and non-discrimination directly apply to these territories (the so-called acquis communautaire).
Outermost Region French Saint Martin directly qualifies for EU relief funding.
Not so for Dutch Sint Maarten. The status of Dutch Sint Maarten is that of an Overseas Country and Territory (OCT). OCT’s are not part of the single EU market and must comply with the obligations imposed on third countries in respect of trade, particularly rules of origin, health and plant health standards and safeguard measures. The relation between the EU and the OCT’s is dictated by a certain Council Decision.
It is noted that the Dutch Caribbean Islands of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and BES (consisting of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba) are OCT’s, notwithstanding their status within the Dutch Kingdom. However, the OCT status of the BES Islands is under review for possible conversion into OR’s.
In principle, Overseas Country and Territory Dutch Sint Maarten would not qualify for EU relief funding by operation of law.
Reportedly, the European Commission wishes to treat French and Dutch SXM equally and grant both equal relief funding however. According to the President of the European Commission, Brussel is ready to send the available European funds to both Saint Martin and Sint Maarten.