Since late November 2018, the Collectivité of Saint-Martin has the honor to chair the Conference of Presidents of the Outermost regions (CPOR), and this at least until February 2020. It is, a fortiori, in this pivotal period and with high stakes, a great human, social and geopolitical responsibility.
We often forget that our nine ORs are comparable to a full-fledged EU Member State – they are not scattered territories and entirely apart! … Together, we have a population of nearly 4,8 million inhabitants and a GDP of 100 billion €. In other words, the ORs are as populous as Ireland, and produce as much wealth as Hungary.
I want to recall these figures when, more than ever, we must remain united to best defend our interests and give due recognition to the constraints and specificities mentioned by the Treaties …
We are therefore particularly determined and constructive, without letting go, never forgetting the imperative need to preserve our unity and our social cohesion.
During this Presidency, we will be able to work together with the support of all the ORs, in the continuity of the serious work and quality accomplished during the previous Presidencies.
The objectives are numerous and decisive: first and foremost, it is to continue to defend the interests of the outermost regions in the ongoing post-2020 negotiations so that the provisions of Article 349 TFEU are fully and fairly implemented.
In this context, we will have to amplify and succeed our lobbying actions and take action to ensure that the specific situation of the outermost regions is always taken into account and recognized. It will also be necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the Commission’s new strategy for the Outermost regions, in line with the guidelines of the Memorandum of 2017.
It will also be necessary to maintain the visibility to the Conference of Presidents of the outermost regions and the actions it is taking in all fields.
At the same time, it is important as well to continue the privileged and strategic partnership with the Commission, the Member States and other territories, in particular through joint and collaborative actions in areas of common interest such as sustainable development, blue growth, climate change and many others.
We must therefore consolidate our ambitions, refine our method, and guarantee the humanistic principles that are ours. Respecting our diversity, between ORs but also within each territory, we must resolutely reconcile the imperative of catching up with the development of our potentials.
Because our delays remain important: we will fill them, with our own strength of course, but also thanks to the national and European solidarities, which are values of the future … And we know, in Saint-Martin, since the hurricane IRMA, how important EU support, has been.
But, at the same time, we will value our assets. Land of contrasts, the ORs also aim to become land of excellence and innovation … I pledge, during this Presidency, to carry such a project.