Aruba and the EU
The Office of the European Union and Kingdom relations (Bureau Europese Unie en Koninkrijksrelaties - BEUK) was founded in 2011 by the Minister of General Affairs and acts as the local contact point for EU matters under the name Europe House Aruba. The Office was created, amongst others, in order to increase the visibility of the European Union in Aruba by placing a physical presence on the island. The Office attempts to form a bridge between Aruba, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the EU, emphasizing the opportunities the Kingdom and the EU offers and taking on a guiding role in the application processes by translating the often complex EU-rules concerning funding.
Aruba as an OCT
Aruba is associated with the European Union as an Overseas Country of Territory (OCT) through the Kingdom of the Netherlands. OCTs do not classify as an integral part of the EU, but are still perceived as overseas outposts that are strongly connected to the EU through a special relationship with one of the Member States. The Netherlands is one of the three EU Member States that is associated with OCTs; other Member States with overseas territories are Denmark and France. These OCTs comprise of 13 islands from the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Polar/Subpolar region.
The in total 13 OCTs, are listed in the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU of which is described under Part IV of the Treaty on (Articles 198 to 204 TFEU). The purpose of this association is to “promote the economic and social development of the OCTs and to establish close economic relations between them and the Community as a whole”.
The details of the relationship between these OCTs and the EU are laid down in the Overseas Association Decision (OAD 2013). In this document the agreements about the OCTs place within the EU are determined. The Decision was drawn based on the values of equality and mutual input as opposed to development aid. It covers the desire for regional cooperation between the OCTs, special trade agreements with the EU, financial arrangements and access to the European Court.
The EU offers various funding opportunities for the OCTs such as eligibility towards the European Development Fund (EDF), participation in and funding from EU programmes and for support under programmes of the Union for cooperation with other countries, notably developing countries. Aruba also is eligible for loan opportunities through the European Investment Bank.
Furthermore, Aruban citizens with Dutch Nationality and therefore holder of a EU passport are entitled to use their passive rights on the elections for the European Parliament.