The election followed meetings with representatives of ten Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories, convened for the first time in Curacao on Wednesday and Thursday. The meetings established the regional Overseas Countries and Territories Council.
Premier’s Office Chief of Staff Leonard Dilbert said the Premier and his delegation were warmly received, treated with the highest respect and offered enthusiastic support from other delegates and their hosts, the Prime Minister and Government of Curacao. In addition to Premier Bush and Mr. Dilbert, the Cayman Islands’ representatives at the meetings included Jamaal Anderson, the cabinet office’s technical assistant on European Union projects and local attorney Steve McField.
“The formation of this council is an important step for regional territories, as it is essential for our small territories to coordinate and cooperate if we are to make real progress in our relationship with the European Union, and other supra-national organisations,” Mr. Bush said. “I appreciate the confidence shown in me by my counterparts and I look forward to the vigorous development of this Council.”
The is working on a joint agenda for sustainable development and a road map to establish a Caribbean agenda with respect to the new agreement of the Overseas Countries and Territories that is currently being prepared by the EU. That agreement should come into effect January 1, 2014. The Council wishes to enhance their relationship with the European Union and ensure that the needs and interests of the Caribbean OCT are incorporated.
Through the council, knowledge and experiences will be shared and joint initiatives will be taken to ensure project funding from the EU on topics that are of joint interest, Mr. Bush said. The Council was established through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday in Curacao.
Specific areas for cooperation were identified:
*Cooperation within different constitutional frameworks
*Transportation and logistics
*Capacity building and sharing / human capital development
*Strategic development within a sustainable / framework within small countries/territories
*Relationship with EU: budget versus project support
*Sustainable leadership in the Caribbean
*Development of Public-Private-Partnerships
Working groups have been initiated to address each topic and are expected to present a working plan by 1 September. The Cayman Islands will be represented on a number of the working groups of the Council and leading on at least two, Mr. Bush said.