Council of State: Recovery islands conceals weaknesses

The Dutch Council of State is critical about the strong economic recovery of Aruba, Bo­naire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten as it argues that the islands depend too much on tour­ism. This was stated in the council’s annual report, published last week. In this 2023 report, the council also reiterates the need for a regulation to solve dis­putes within the Kingdom.

Though the islands’ are doing well in terms of eco­nomic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, this recovery is too dependent on tourism, which conceals the fact that depending on only one economic pillar has inherent weaknesses.

Moreover, writes the council, most islands focus too much on the quantity of tourism, rather than de­veloping a more qualitative and sustainable approach to tourism.

According to the council, 2023 painted a mixed pic­ture of the relations within the kingdom. The council found that the public de­bate, particularly the King’s official slavery apology, contributed to a “valuable deepening of the relations.” However, there was also some political tension. In Aruba, the tension mostly had to do with the refinanc­ing conditions of the COV­ID loans; in Curacao, and to a lesser extent St. Maarten, there was some tension con­cerning the approach to the situation with Ennia.

There is tension and con­flict in any political system, thus also in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, empha­sises the council. “The im­portant question is how we deal with such conflicts to successfully resolve them as quickly as possible,” it was stated in the report.

Yet, there was still no progress in terms of a dis­pute regulation in 2023, even though the council pointed to the necessity of an effective dispute regula­tion many times. The coun­cil advises starting by estab­lishing how existing regula­tions, such as the Financial Supervision Act, are work­ing out in practice.

In 2023, the Administra­tive Jurisdiction Division worked closely together with the Joint Court of Jus­tice of Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. In doing so, some members of the di­vision were appointed tem­porary members of the joint court. This collaboration will continue in the coming years, writes the council.

The council also contrib­utes to the exchange of knowledge on the islands through digitally exchang­ing documents and spe­cialised guest lectures. The council also offers intern­ships in The Hague. Late 2023, the Deputy Secretary of the Curacao Council of Ministers made use of this opportunity in the Advisory Division.

The Advisory Division of the Council of State for the Kingdom comprises Dutch members of the advisory di­vision and three additional members appointed by the countries Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten. Every four years, the committee visits the islands to speak with people in the public sphere, but also for people in the pri­vate sector and civil society. In January 2023, such a visit took place.

In conclusion, the coun­cil state emphasise that the bonds between the various parts of the Kingdom arc not just of a political or admin­istrative nature. “There are numerous societal, historical, personal and cultural connec­tions that keep the Kingdom alive,” the council writes.

On December 15, 1954, the first version of the Char­ter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands was signed by Queen Juliana. This year marks the 70th anniversary of this monumental event and council aims to com­memorate this during King­dom Day on December 15, 2024.

The Daily Herald.

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