EU Relations with Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British OCT. The territory consists of around forty islets and cays, of which only the islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, South Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos and Providenciales (tourist and economic centre) are permanently inhabited. The capital is Cockburn Town on Grand Turk. The total population of Turks and Caicos stands at approximately 32,000 (2006 census estimate).
The currency is the US$. Tourism, construction, real estate, international finance and fishing are central to the economy, which has expanded significantly over the past years. The government of Turks and Caicos is working towards further economic diversification. Regarding transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes, the Turks and Caicos Islands committed to improving transparency and establishing effective exchange of information in tax matters. The overall government budget balance shows a surplus of 2% but cannot be said to be stable. The unemployment rate is 9.7% of the labour force.
The UK is responsible for foreign affairs, defence, internal security, the public service and the offshore financial sector. In other areas, Turks and Caicos enjoys a large measure of internal autonomy, although laws adopted at island level require final approval by the UK. In February 2007 a general election was called and the governing Progressive National Party (PNP) was returned with a substantial majority, winning 60% of the vote and 13 seats of the 15 seats. The current Prime Minister is Michael Eugene Misick LLB, MLC (PNP). There is a genuine parliamentary democracy in Turks and Caicos. The next elections are due by May 2011.
The government of Turks and Caicos is committed to good governance (although this area is still the UK’s responsibility). In this connection, and taking into account its financial situation, a debate on the future of the Turks and Caicos Islands' status has been under way since 2002 and is aimed at increased island level responsibility and, subsequently, autonomy.
External and regional environment
The Turks and Caicos Islands being an OCT, they do not fully participate in the regional integration process, but show interest in the EPA process. The Turks and Caicos Islands are an associated member of CARICOM. Historically, the Turks and Caicos Islands have had strong links with Jamaica, to which they remained tied until well into the twentieth century. Foreign investors, mainly from Canada, the UK and the USA play a significant role in the islands' economic life. More than half of the tourists to the Turks and Caicos Islands come from the US.
Relations with the EU
The initial 9th EDF territorial allocation amounts to € 8,4 M. Adding the transfers from previous EDFs, the indicative allocation amounts to € 10.6 M. The total amount of € 10.6 M is granted as budgetary support to the Turks and Caicos Islands and is focused on transport, and in particular on port and road infrastructure. Following the Mid-Term Review of the 9th EDF, the allocation of the Turks and Caicos Islands was increased by € 4 M for an extension of the existing budget support programme.
The 10th EDF allocation for the Turks and Caicos Islands amounts to € 12 M.