14th OCT-EU Forum, 26 February 2016

14th OCT-EU Forum, 26 February 2016

04/03/2016

The 14th Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) - EU Forum took place on 26 February 2016 in Brussels, under the aegis of the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica.

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The OCT-EU Forum represents the annual highest level of political dialogue between the European Commission, the Overseas Countries and Territories and the four Member States to which OCTs are linked.

The Forum took place in the presence of Dr. Bernard Whiteman, Prime Minister of Curaçao and former chairman of the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA), and of Michiel Godfried Eman, Prime Minister of Aruba and new chairman of OCTA for the upcoming year.  Heads of Government and elected representatives from the Overseas Countries and Territories, representatives of the Netherlands ( Ronald Plasterk, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations), France (George Pau-Langevin, Minister for the  Overseas), the United Kingdom (James Duddridge MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth), and Denmark (Erik Vilstrup Lorenzen,  Arctic Ambassador for the Kingdom of Denmark), together with representative of the European Parliament (Maurice Ponga, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Development), the Secretary-General of the ACP group, Dr. Patrick Ignatius Gomes, and representatives from the Outermost regions have attended.

Half a day discussions took place around two high level round-tables focused on two major topics of mutual interest: i) the new global agreement on climate change, reached in Paris in December 2015, and ii) the OCTs' response efforts and growth and investment opportunities in OCTs, which sits at the heart of OCTs' sustainable development.

During the discussions, OCTs expressed their commitment to the international agreement on climate change and stressed the importance of climate change mitigation and adaptation; furthermore opportunities for trade and investments to enhance sustainable growth in different countries and territories were explored.

During the Forum, the importance of the special relationship between the Union and the OCTs, which is based on mutual objectives, principles and values, has also been reiterated.

At the margin of the Forum, a Joint Declaration has been signed between the EU and twenty-two Overseas Countries and Territories[1] on reinforced cooperation in the field of sustainable energy. Speaking ahead of the signing ceremony, Commissioner Mimica said: "The signing of this Declaration represents an important step in our cooperation in sustainable energy. The signature strengthens links between energy policy commitments of Overseas Countries and Territories and the support that could be provided by the European Union and the resources available via the 11th European Development Fund. The EU is committed to continue supporting Overseas Countries and Territories in their efforts in becoming less dependent on fossil fuels, and making their economies more resilient."

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[1] Greenland, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Wallis and Futuna Islands, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan sa Cunha, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda.