Supporting development of the EU overseas countries and territories
Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs has opened a two-day conference to pave the way for a new partnership between the European Union and the 21 overseas countries and territories (OCTs). Andris Piebalgs stated: «Today, we all agreed on the need of a reinforced partnership between the EU and the OCTs. Their geographical position makes them a unique link between Europe with the rest of the world». The OCTs depend constitutionally on four of the EU Member States: Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Cooperation with the OCTs focuses in particular on three issues: the reduction, prevention and eventual eradication of poverty; sustainable development and the gradual integration of the OCTs into the regional and world economies. A total amount of EUR 175 million, of which EUR 20 million is set aside for the Investment Facility managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), was granted to the OCTs under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF) for the period 2000-2007. For the period 2008-2013, an amount of EUR 286 million is granted under the 10th EDF, of which EUR 30 million for financing the Investment Facility.
For example in the Netherlands Antilles, the European Comission supported the renovation of National Museum and the development of the Arikok National Park in Aruba. On 26 July 2009, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands officially inaugurated the revamped Aruba National Archaeological Museum and Arikok National Park. The museum complex, to which the EU contributed € 4.5 million, offers an authentic glimpse into 5,000 years of regional history in a complex of restored colonial-type buildings and a modern state-of-the-art section for ancient artefacts. The EU contributed € 7 million to the Arikok National Park's 3-year makeover, rehabilitating roads and paths for visitors as well as installing a wind turbine and solar panels that make the site a landmark for innovative energy management. The park occupies 18% of Aruba's landmass and is home to countless indigenous flora and fauna. In addition to the local population, both museum and park are envisaging to accommodate eventually 829,000 visitors and the 578,000 cruise ship passengers per year. In 2013, museum and park and are expected to become financially self-sufficient.