New constitutional order

The islands had reached final agreement on a new constitutional order within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on 15 December 2008, during a Round Table Conference held in Curaçao.

A new status for each of the islands

Since 10 October 2010, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has consisted of four countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten. The Netherlands Antilles has been dissolved and its constituent islands have acquired a new status:

  • Curaçao and St Maarten: new autonomous countries within the Kingdom: Curaçao and St Maarten now have a separate status as autonomous countries. They have their own governments and are no longer dependencies of the Netherlands. The Netherlands will, however, continue to assist them during the transitional period as they set up their new national organisations. Plans have been drawn up for their government institutions, which were not yet fully operational on 10 October 2010. The plans will remain in effect for a maximum period of two years. In 2011, the new countries’ overriding concern will be to implement these plans.
  • Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba: new municipalities of the Netherlands: Rather than become independent countries, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba wished to have a closer relationship with the Netherlands. They have now gained the status of “special municipalities”.
  • Aruba: Aruba and the Netherlands have agreed on an agenda of improvements in the areas of law enforcement, urban quality of life, and legislation, which they will be tackling in the next few years. An enquiry into the state of public administration on Aruba is expected to be completed in 2011. Based on the results of this enquiry, Aruba and the Netherlands will decide whether further measures should be introduced and at what level. 

Most important consequences

The Netherlands is cooperating with Curaçao, St Maarten, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba to build a strong, reliable system of public administration that can offer the local population a better quality of service. On 10 October 2010, all the islands acquired a new status, a new government, and new tasks. The changes have consequences for the islands.

Constitutional order

  • The Netherlands Antilles was dissolved on 10 October 2010.
  • Curaçao and St Maarten became new countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
  • Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba became special municipalities of the Netherlands.  
  • The Kingdom of the Netherlands now consists of the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten.

Government and legislation

  • Curaçao and St Maarten are responsible for their own national government and legislation.
  • Dutch legislation will gradually come to replace Antillean law on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba.
  • The National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands [Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland] represents the various Dutch.

Government finances and economy

  • Encourage economic growth by tackling short-term problems and investing in long-term solutions.
  • The Netherlands is assuming 70% of the Antillean debt (approximately EUR 1.7 billion).

Crime and the courts

  • Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba will have a single police force, fire department and ambulance service with a central dispatch centre.
  • Joint Public Prosecutions Service and Common Court of Justice for Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba.