Cooperation at the Heart of the 19th EU-OCT Forum Resolutions
01 December 2022
On Tuesday, November 22, New Caledonia hosted the 19th European Union-Overseas Countries and Territories (EU-OCT) Forum. An opportunity for members of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA), representatives of France, Denmark, the Netherlands and the European Commission, to discuss opportunities, challenges and the cooperation that binds them.
The 19th EU-OCT Forum is held every year, alternating between Brussels and an OCT. This event concluded several days of exchanges marked by trilateral meetings between the OCTs, the Member States (France, Denmark, Netherlands) and the European Commission. One of the objectives of these meetings was to review the implementation and programming of financial assistance.
In the run-up to the forum, a series of workshops were held on Saturday 19 November on the themes of investment, regional cooperation, using the example of the regional program PROTEGE, and intra-regional cooperation between the OCTs. Ministers, Adolphe Digoué, Mickaël Forrest, Vaimu'a Muliava and Joseph Manauté, took part in these sessions, which enabled the delegations, through presentations and exchanges, to take stock of the situation and identify ways of improving EU-OCT relations in the years to come.
OCTA Ministerial Conference
The day before the forum, OCTA members participated in the association's Ministerial Conference. This is OCTA's highest decision-making authority, which meets once a year to set the association's administrative and policy directions.
During this meeting, the members discussed the future of the partnership between the EU and the overseas countries and territories, regional cooperation issues, as well as the new challenges related to the governance of the association. "OCTA has a very important role to play in the dialogue with the European Union, and the governance of the association is a key element in our respective development, and one of the points of attention of the roadmap of our organization," said President Louis Mapou.
It was also during this conference that Louis Mapou handed over the chairmanship of the OCTA to Greenland, represented for the occasion by Kalistat Lund, Minister of Agriculture, Self-sufficiency, Energy and Environment of his country. Aruba took the vice-chairmanship.
Monday, November 21 ended with a dinner offered to the delegations by the New Caledonian government. The dinner took place in the gardens of the Tjibaou Cultural Center in the presence of the High Commissioner of the French Republic, Patrice Faure, the Speaker of Congress, Roch Wamytan, the President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), Jean-Louis d'Anglebermes and the President of the Customary Senate, Hugues Vhemavhe.
3.57 Billion for Energy Transition in New Caledonia
In his opening remarks on Tuesday, November 22, President Louis Mapou was keen to recall the importance of consolidating the links between members of the OCTA, but also with the European Union. This organization that binds us together must have as its mission to consolidate our relationship with the European Union at a time when the changes in the world force us to face a certain complexity in which we can lose our soul," said the President of the Government. We, the European OCTs, represent only one million inhabitants, but we are placed in the middle of major sea lanes that are at the heart of major geopolitical issues. The European Union is not sufficiently present as an alternative to China and the United States. We need to know if, beyond financial support, the European Union is capable of supporting us so that we deal with the concerns related to our smallness."
The forum ended with the official signings of the European grant programs for the OCTs. The overall envelope allocated via the Overseas Association Decision (including Greenland) for 2021-2027 amounts to 60 billion francs, including 3.57 billion for New Caledonia. These funds will be used to support the country's energy transition.
Meetings on the Sidelines of the Forum
Several delegations of OCTA members arrived in New Caledonia the week before the forum. This was an opportunity for some of them to meet the government on the sidelines of the event. On Thursday, November 17, President Louis Mapou and Minister Vaimu'a Muliava met with Bernard Briand, President of the Territorial Council of St. Pierre and Miquelon, to discuss the topics of taxation and energy standards for construction. On the same day, they welcomed a delegation from Wallis and Futuna, led by Munipoese Muliakaaka, President of the Territorial Assembly, with whom they exchanged views on the future of bilateral cooperation between the two islands. Finally, on Friday 18 November, Ministers Vaimu'a Muliava and Christopher Gygès, accompanied by the deputy director general of the OPT, Thomas De Deckker, met with delegations from Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia with whom they discussed issues related to regional digital cooperation.