The Netherlands and France work together on reconstruction in St Maarten and Saint Martin

The French and Dutch delegates coordinating reconstruction efforts in Saint Martin and St Maarten met in Paris today to strengthen their partnership.

The French delegate Philippe Gustin, who is also responsible for reconstruction efforts in Saint Barthélemy, received his Dutch counterpart Hans Leijtens at the French Ministry for Overseas France. Mr Leijtens is the director-general of the Dutch project team for the reconstruction of St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius. The delegates and their teams discussed the current situation on the island, reconstruction efforts and continuing the excellent partnership between France and the Netherlands.

‘Bilateral cooperation was already well underway before this meeting,’ Mr Gustin said. ‘We have been sharing important information since Irma hit the island. We have also been working together effectively on security matters. The aim of this meeting is to formalise our partnership for the long term and find ways of making a joint contribution to the sustainable development of the island.’

‘Our governments are working to ensure a better future for all the people of St Maarten and Saint Martin,’ Mr Leijtens added. ‘I believe we have laid a firm basis on which to build our partnership.’

The two delegates stressed the importance of carrying out joint infrastructure projects, for example with regard to the airport or a waste treatment plant, in close cooperation with the local authorities. The two countries will also support each other in their contacts with the European Commission with the aim of raising EU funding for reconstruction efforts.

Finally, Mr Gustin and Mr Leijtens spoke about the necessity of giving a new impetus to the existing ‘four-party consultations’, which bring together representatives of the French government, the Dutch government, the collectivity of Saint Martin and the government of St Maarten.

‘Irma has provided an opportunity to breathe new life into cooperation between the two parts of the island,’ Mr Gustin explained.