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EU Relations with Netherlands Antilles

The Netherlands Antilles are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. They consist of a Federation of five main islands. The islands Curaçao and Bonaire (the Leeward Islands) represent about 80% of the total population of 223,652 (July 2007 est.). St Maarten, St Eustatius and Saba form the Windward Islands. St Maarten is adjacent to Saint Martin, which is part of France. The capital of the Netherlands Antilles is Willemstad, on Curaçao.


The Netherlands Antilles enjoy a per capita income of $16,000 (2004 est.).

Tourism, petroleum refining, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Regarding transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes, the Netherlands Antilles committed to improving transparency and establishing effective exchange of information in tax matters. Most of the oil the Netherlands Antilles imports for its refineries comes from Venezuela. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, the US and Mexico being the major suppliers. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture. Budgetary problems hamper reform of the health and pension systems of an ageing population.

Political background

While the Netherlands control external affairs, each of the five islands has its own island government and the Netherlands Antilles as a whole has a central government. The main political parties are the Antillan Restructuring Party (PAR), the National People's Party (PNP), the Democratic Party of Bonaire PDB and the Democratic Party of Sint Maarten (DP-StM). The current Prime Minister, Emily de Jongh-Elhage (PAR), has been leading a six-party coalition since March 2006, after the parliamentary elections on 27 January 2006. There is a genuine parliamentary democracy in the Netherlands Antilles.

Following referenda in 2005 on each of the islands, the country "Netherlands Antilles" should have been restructured on 31 July 2007, but this calendar has been extended with a transitional period until 15 December 2008. By that date, St Maarten and Curaçao should gain greater autonomy within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, whereas all other islands should integrate more closely in the Kingdom. For the latter, the Netherlands will offer support by taking over a part of the islands' public debt, in step with progress made by the islands in terms of good governance.

External and regional environment

The Netherlands Antilles being an OCT, they do not fully participate in the regional integration process. The Netherlands Antilles are however seeking closer ties with CARICOM, where they currently have observer status, and want to strengthen ties of co-operation with CARICOM in areas such as public health, social development, education, sport and culture.

Relations with the EU

Despite the relatively high GDP per capita (US$ 16,000 in 2004) compared to other countries in the region, the 9th EDF allocation amounts to € 20 M. Adding the transfers from previous EDFs, the indicative territorial allocation amounts to € 42 M. This amount is used to fund an urban neighbourhood infrastructure project in socially deprived areas on the different islands and a sewerage project on Bonaire.

The 10th EDF allocation for the Netherland Antilles (as a whole) amounts to € 24 M.

Last update: 17/02/2012 | Top