Vision of the future

Design of a vision

In its report, the Committee of Wise Men observes, among other things, an attitude in the Netherlands that is characterised by a lack of interest and the lack of a common vision (in or on the design of the administrative structure of the Caribbean islands).

In June 2018, an article worth reading will be published in the magazine Ars Aequi, entitled Van het openbaar lichaam Sint Eustatius naar een onafhankelijk Statia? (in Dutch). I contacted the author to reflect my thoughts on him and he referred to two documents:

Commissioned by the Kingdom Relations Committee of the Lower House of Parliament, in April 2019 the University of Groningen produced a report (in Dutch) entitled Reviewing The Kingdom of the Netherlands in which a comparative study was carried out into the constitutional relations in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the French Republic, the Kingdom of Denmark and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. All these countries have so-called Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

Of course, I invite everyone to read a few things and to form their own image of "how to proceed" (I would like to hear from you!), but at least I will give my appreciation of the report below:

So much for the main points I have distilled from the report (as far as the Kingdom, its four countries and the Caribbean Netherlands are concerned). The report also provides insight into the way in which Denmark, Great Britain and France view this same issue.

As a non-lawyer, I have some difficulty in seeing the relationship between Kingdom and Country in a complex Dutch context. The Statute sees equal countries; in practice, the governance of the Kingdom is to a large extent "coinciding" with that of the country the Netherlands. The Netherlands is therefore rightly primus inter pares and the quotation from Orwell ("All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others", Animal Farm [1945]) seems to be the order of the day.

The "public entity" seems to me to be an extremely powerful and flexible "legal vehicle" which, in my opinion, can not only shape the administrative structure of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, but also that of Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten. Indeed, Article 132a (4) of the Constitution states that "rules may be laid down for these public bodies and other specific measures may be taken in order to take account of special circumstances which distinguish these public bodies substantially from the European part of the Netherlands". An additional advantage is, in my opinion, that the somewhat diffuse relationship between the Kingdom and individual countries can also be made clearer, if not completely eliminated (whereby the Statute loses its value compared to the Constitution).

The existing inequality in socio-economic relations should, in my view, be removed, as should the existing obstacle to the free movement of persons in the Kingdom. I do not have a clear picture of the desirability of a monetary union, a customs union and/or a free trade area, but if I were to be asked about it, I imagine that, in principle, as much as possible equal organisation should take place in the different parts of the Kingdom, unless geographical aspects or typical island aspects make this impossible or undesirable.

Without wanting or being able to be exhaustive about what this means, it seems to me in any case that everyone in the whole of the Kingdom should have a citizen's service number (which can be used to apply for a Digid and to open accounts at Dutch banks). It also seems to me that there would be a lot to be said for the introduction of the 'euro' in all parts of the Kingdom, so that Dutch banks can also open branches in all parts of the country for the purpose of an optimal payment system between all Dutch citizens.
Note: This will also make it considerably easier for students who are preparing to continue their studies in the European Netherlands to apply for a study grant.

In relation to the policy area infrastructure (in relation to public health) the following. Considering that Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba together form the Caribbean Netherlands, it is obvious - with an administrative focus on Bonaire - to have good (regular, reliable) air connections between these islands.

If, moreover, ZVK flights can be diverted from Columbia to the Leeward Islands (after, of course, the care contracts have been transferred accordingly from care providers in Columbia to care providers on Bonaire [or Aruba or Curacao]), then it should still be possible to set up a profitable travel schedule.

In accordance with the recommendations of the report "Connectivity Caribbean part of the Kingdom", these flights should be arranged as public transport (the report speaks of PSO's).

With regard to the policy area "education" (in which I myself work) I see that in October 2014, with a letter to the House of Representatives (in Dutch), English-language education formally enters the Netherlands on St. Eustatius, and thus in (Caribbean) The Netherlands. The CXC will be introduced and CSEC will be regarded as the general education system. All this has been further laid down and defined in the Temporary Decree Saba Comprehensive School and Gwendoline van Puttenschool BES (in Dutch).

This "Temporary Decree" further stipulates that the Graduation Decree VO BES does not apply. This Final Examination Decision regulates, among other things, when a person has passed or failed, or under which conditions a re-examination can be taken.

However, CSEC has a different structure. It is a level at which you can take your exam in the various courses. There is therefore no such thing as a CSEC diploma. For each course you obtain a certificate with the result of the exam. Depending on the combination and the number of certificates (with a defined minimum result) you will be admitted to an advanced programme. At least that is how it is arranged in the Caribbean region.

As a school we have meanwhile - partly at the request of MinOCW and SLO - laid down such a combination in an A and a B-profile with which analogy is sought with the CM/EM- resp. NG/NT-profile as it applies in the HAVO. However, this has not yet been further anchored in the law or decree as well as in the admission criteria of the HBO institutions in the Netherlands, while after completion of the academic year 2019/2020 the first group of students with a curriculum based on CXC/CSEC will leave the school.

The need for additional policy for the benefit of general education has been explained in the previous paragraphs. Without going into the details here, such a need seems to exist equally for vocational education.

A report on the development of tourism will be delivered in March 2019: Sint Eustatius Tourism Vision Plan (final version).