Opening EU desk in Curaçao
‘Curaçao reshaping development cooperation’ was the title of a conference held in December, by the Ministry of Economic Development. At that occasion, the Ministry officially opened a desk to attend funding opportunities from the European Union (EU).
The EU is one of the major donors in the world for both public and private projects, but these often cannot make use of their services due to lack of knowledge of its regulations and procedures. The EU desk will assist these entities in their efforts and by doing so create more funding possibilities for local organizations.
The conference took place at the AmiDos building where the Ministry of Economic Development is located and counted on a large group of participants of the local and Caribbean business- and public sector. The Director of the Foreign Economic Cooperation of the Ministry, Vanessa Toré opened the event and explained the importance of exploring the funding possibilities of the EU. A concept that pertains to the economic development vision of the former Minister of Economic Development Dr. Steven Martina, who emphasized the significance of a good relationship with the EU. Sylvie Millot who is head of the European Commission (EC) of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) gave some insights in the work procedures of the institutions of the EC and the OCT. Mireille van der Graaf who is the Director of Sector Innovation and Research Applications of ‘Welcomeurope’ informed the participants about the funding that is available for Curaçao and the current and upcoming Calls for Proposals.
Taiana Mora Ramiz, the trade representative of Curaçao in the Dominican Republic and a regional expert on SME development was also one of the speakers during this event and at that occasion gave a presentation of some of the possibilities that the EU can offer and the difficulties in accessing this help.
Her emphasis was though on the opportunities that exist for companies and organizations in the Caribbean. Mora thinks that successful access to development cooperation is critical for the Caribbean region.
But a lot of effort is needed to get familiarized on the jargon and ways of the development cooperation, especially from the EU who is the major donor in the world. Mora adds that Curaçao has a unique position to work with EU funding and to collaborate with others into tapping multiple opportunities. “I think the Conference was important because it brought more of the knowledge of what is available to Curaçao and who to work with and it also established the EU Desk which is a much needed tool to bridge the gap between the funds available and the local capacity to access it”.
Mora’s experience of other Caribbean countries, shows her that business opportunities and trade agreement benefits can only be reaped if the private sector targets the market in a consistent manner. “I would suggest to the private sector in Curaçao to use the Curaçao Desk in the DR, to learn as much as you can and to not assume that you know the market just because you know the country”.
Representatives of two local institutions who have made use of EU funding shared their experience. The Rector Magnificus of Curaçao’s national university dr. Francis Delanoy explained how the University is making use of the Erasmus Grant while Monique Raphaela, the Director of Curaçao’s Innovation and Technology Institute gave a presentation of their practice with EU funding.Vanessa Toré, who is the motor behind Curaçao’s foreign economic cooperation policy, looks back at a successful conference.
She sees funding from the EU as one of the important economic development drivers for Curaçao and Caribbean countries and encourages local institutions to make good use of the support that the EU desk has to offer.