Parliament publishes report of Inquiry into UK Overseas Territories
On 21st February 2019, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) published the report of its Inquiry into Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship. In doing so, the Committee said “The British Overseas Territories share a bond with the UK and take pride in their deeply-rooted British identities. Largely self-governing territories, they span nine time zones from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Antarctic to the Caribbean. Their total population is only about 250,000 but they include some of the greatest biodiversity in the world.” UKOTCF had given written and oral evidence to the Committee.
Amongst FAC’s recommendations are:
- The Government must offer clarity on its long-term vision for the funding of the OTs, including replacing any lost EU funding, and continuing and expanding Blue Belt funding after 2020. Towards this end, the Government should explore options for a dedicated development and stimulus fund for the OTs, which would allow for the long-term, sustainable development of aid-dependent territories; help to stimulate the economies of those who need a stimulus but do not qualify for official development assistance; and help territories that are otherwise financially self-sufficient respond to crises such as hurricanes…
- The UK Government must clarify the UK’s future relationship with the European Union as soon as possible and analyse the impact on the OTs, what funding will be required to ensure the OTs are not losing out, and what input the OTs will have on the replacement of EU funding in the future.
Other recommendations include: that St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension be treated as three separate territories, rather than grouping them artificially as one; that a suitable name be identified to refer to UK, its Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies together; and addressing ways to make the UKOTs links with UK Government and Parliament more effective.
The report can be seen at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmfaff/1464/1464.pdf