European Union and OCTs
Mr. Denis Salord, Head of Unit at the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development in charge of Overseas Countries and Territories opened the BRUZZ dedicated to Turks and Caicos Islands last Thursday 13th of July.
Mr. Salord particularly highlighted the importance of the regional dimension, and as such of the cooperation among OCTs and among OCTs and their neighbouring countries.
Please find below Mr. Salord’s introductory speech at the OCTA Innovation Brussels BRUZZ on Turks and Caicos Islands:
Your Excellency honourable Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to address you today in Brussels for this OCTA Innovation Brussels BRUZZ event focusing on Turks and Caicos.
We are particularly honoured to have with us today Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Premier of Turks and Caicos, Minister for Trade and Investment of the TCI and chairman of the Overseas Countries and territories Association (OCTA).
As you know, the Association between the 25 OCTs and the EU is of strategic importance for the EU. The European Commission places a particular importance in the work of the OCT Association (OCTA) and is committed to continue working very closely with OCTA to reinforce the partnership between the EU and the OCTs. In this context, as the head of unit responsible for the relations with OCTs in the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), I am particularly pleased with the ongoing collaboration between the European Commission and the chairmanship of OCTA held by honourable Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson.
The Overseas Association Decision of 2013 which governs the OCT-EU relations, reflects a paradigm shift, from a focus on poverty reduction to a reciprocal relation focused on cooperation on mutual interests, and places special emphasis on priorities which are relevant for the OCTs, such as the enhancement of their competitiveness, the strengthening of their resilience, reduction of their vulnerability, and promotion of the cooperation between OCTs and their regional, European and international partners.
In this context, innovation is a central lever to ensure sustainable economic growth in OCTs and the enhancement of their competitiveness. Innovation is at the heart of the EU action in the area of sustainable growth and competitiveness and is seen as a top priority by the EU institutions and the Member States.
In OCTs, the Territorial Strategies for Innovation (TSI) programme also known as “OCTA Innovation” programme is the thematic programme funded by the 10th European Development Fund and covering all OCTs. It embodies the prominence of innovation in the context of the OCT-EU Association.
The overall objective of TSI is to enhance the sustainable development of OCTs through innovative solutions for economic diversification and to improve the regional and global competitiveness of the OCTs. The project provides technical capacity and demand-driven services to the OCT governments in developing their Territorial Strategies for Innovation. To date 9 territorial Strategies for Innovation projects have been initiated in the same number of OCTs.
Today’s OCTA Innovation event is dedicated to the Turks and Caicos. The 11th European Development Fund territorial programme for TCI was signed by Commissioner Mimica and Honourable Premier Cartwright-Robinson at the beginning of 2017 during the 15th OCT-EU Forum alongside four other EDF-OCT territorial programming documents. The programme, amounting for a total of EUR 14.6 million, is focusing on primary and secondary education providing support to TCI ambitious education sector policy. Madame Premier will probably tell us more about this programme.
I am also sure that TCI will be able to share its experience in the area of innovation having focused its 10th EDF multi-annual programme on improving the enabling environment for private sector development as part of the EU general support to the development policy of the OCT.
I look forward to our discussions today, and to strengthening our association going forward. I am sure they will contribute to making our partnership even more effective.