Ascension : Report for Ascension’s Electorate on Cllr Jones’ attendance at the 6th OCTA Conference and 5th OCTA-EU Forum in Greenland during September
Submitted by The Islander (Gavin Yon) 05.10.2006 (Article Archived on 19.10.2006)
The OCTA (full name “Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union”) was formed in March 2003.
The OCTA (full name “Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union”) was formed in March 2003. One of its objectives is to defend the collective interests of its members and represent those interests to the institutions of the European Union (EU), while one of its main purposes seems to be to gain as much funding from the EU as possible.
Funding comes from a series of initiatives, the current one being EDF9, (EDF standing for European Development Fund).
In June 2006 the EU approved a project to improve access to St Helena, Ascension and Tristan for EUR 15.47m, of which EUR 0.72m or £495,000 relates to Ascension.
The workings of EDF9 has been very slow, although the St Helena/Ascension/Tristan bid has been one of the quickest to gain the commitment of funding from the EU, and the OCTA regards the holding of an annual conference important not least as an annual attempt to goad the EU into action.
The OCTA has 4 working parties:-
Party 1 is considering the provision of (“offshore”) Financial Services by Territories; there will be a conference in BVI in May 2007 which will accommodate those OCTs wishing to establish themselves as Financial Service Centres.
Party 2 is considering rules of origin (to do with fishing), transhipment and regional integration.
Party 3 is considering the environment, climate change and disaster management. It has produced an “Oceans” brochure detailing the effects of climate change on 9 OCTs and calling for a) More Research: EU should allow OCTs access to EU environmental programs like LIFE+ so OCTs can co-operate with research into areas of common concern; b) International Representation of OCTs e.g. at the UN, and c) formulation of an action plan.
Party 4 considers the future relationship between the OCTA and EU.
The OTCA also has a Small Isolated Micro Economy (SIME) agenda which organised an e-learning workshop in 2005. Further workshops are planned on e-Governance, medical/health services, environment/waste disposal, energy generation and regulation in micro economies. Attending some of these may help with policy formation for Ascension.
Most of the Forum was devoted to discussions on EDF9, in particular the problems associated with gaining funds from it, and EDF10 which will be worth EUR 286m and be available between 2008 and 2013. It was established that no Territory would receive less from EDF10 than it will from EDF9.
With EDF9 there have been long delays in getting projects approved by the EU and almost no funds have been released, due to EU’s own bureaucracy slowing things down, i.e. nobody is specifically responsible for releasing the funds. St Helena/Ascension/Tristan was one of the first bids to be approved. There is a lack of clear rules for obtaining funding, and there are too many levels in the approval process which takes too long.
With EDF10 the EU wishes to pay special attention to good governance and the environment, however the OCTA wished to split good governance from funding as it may not always be relevant to the funding being sought. OCTA also asked that the SPD (Single Programme Document), the model for all funding applications, be simplified.
Ascension Island Councillor
29 September 2006