The ORs: An opportunity for the forgotten of Albion?

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By Emmanuel Argo

From now on, one fact is certain, Great Britain wants to go it alone with regard to what it considers to be its best assets: its universities with their Research and Development centers, cf. (British laboratory Astra Zeneca), the "soft power" inherent in its language, finance, diplomacy, cyber security, its democratic foundations...

By 2030, it hopes to become the heart of global finance as a Global Broker, i.e. the broker of the planet, thus surpassing the USA, China and India. From this perspective, it is obvious that Great Britain wants to have a free hand and not be accountable to the E.U. The management of the Covid 19 pandemic, the presidency of the G7 and the co-presidency of the Cop 26 of this year 2021 are for the British the first sensitive tests of the post-Brexit era. In one of my articles published on April 10 and 27, 2018 in French and foreign newspapers and which bore this title: "Boris Johnson: After Brexit, the Commonwealth? I indicated that, in the face of European alarmists, Great Britain, in emancipating itself from the E.U., was counting on emerging powers from the Commonwealth (of which the Queen is the head) such as India, China's great rival, or Nigeria and South Africa, both rich in resources and raw materials.

However, it seems that a series of small countries of this same Commonwealth are the forgotten ones of Brexit because of the re-establishment of customs barriers between Great Britain and Europe, which is why, before the holding of the referendum on Brexit, I had proposed that the English-speaking nationals of its Caribbean Commonwealth countries, like their nationals of the British mainland, be consulted and contribute actively to the many debates organized both by 10 Downing Street and by institutions of civil society. Indeed, the question of the freedom of movement of citizens of British territories of all kinds in the E.U. seemed fundamental to me, especially since these English-speaking countries of the Caribbean are close neighbors of the French islands of the Antilles which are called European outermost regions – ORs. From now on, Caribbeans, subjects of the Queen of England, even holders of a British passport, are no longer entitled to the same freedoms, and in particular that of coming and going in Europe as before. This also applies to hospital care or financial transactions to premium European banks.

As for the paradises that the Caribbean islands still represent for British tourists, now outside the E.U., these risk turning into purgatory at best, if not hell, if by chance the courts of the sterling were to fall. An economic decline of these islands would follow with its share of job losses and other social consequences. Already the Covid 19 pandemic and the closure of European borders, and therefore those of the ORs have weakened them.

But perhaps this is an opportunity for the French overseas territories of the West Indies and Guyana to consider new cooperation with them in various fields such as agriculture, science and technology, etc. d as much as they share a common history and language, Creole. Thus nothing is lost for these great forgotten islands that are the islands of the English-speaking Caribbean with which the ORs could set up reinforced partnerships in the commercial, technical, scientific and cultural sectors, especially as they encounter the same problems of environmental order (sargassum). For information, the French West Indies are an integral part of the first powers of the world having carried in particular the Paris agreements known as Cop 21.

Like the countries constitutionally linked to Great Britain by the Commonwealth, the ORs can be considered as a sort of continuum and at the same time, French-speaking and Creole-speaking hubs of the EU in the Caribbean and Meso- America, with all that this implies in terms of skills and expertise in the following areas: prevention and management of natural disasters (cyclones, rising waters, etc.), energy autonomy and environmental protection, Research & Public/private development, next-generation medical infrastructure and platforms, shared health spaces for inter-tropical diseases or global pandemics. In addition, attention should be paid to the “blue industry” – an expression that covers the exploitation and processing of marine resources – conferred by the exclusive economic zone (maritime and oceanic domain). The "Ocean Decade 2021-2030" proclaimed in December 2020 by the United Nations is a timely one. These are considerable issues related to ocean sciences that will lead to cooperation driven by new kinds of partnerships to which those forgotten by Brexit in the Caribbean can be significant economic partners.

The International Decade (2015-2024) for People of African Descent, which was proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/68/237, provides a solid framework for the United Nations, Member States, civil society and relevant actors to join forces with people of African descent and take concrete measures for the implementation of the program of activities in a spirit of recognition, justice and development. This is an opportunity that would allow nationals from all over the Caribbean ORs, living in diaspora around the world, to make their "return to their native country" to exercise their expertise and professional skills.

To do this, it therefore appears necessary to set up a full-fledged cooperation pool to federate the partners, which will be based on administrative, legislative and financial provisions to be adapted to the many existing economic opportunities, given the positioning of France around the world. And this positioning, reinforced by its ORs and its immense Exclusive Economic Zone, which could authorize it to install this Pool on its territory. The keystone remains the partnership agreements between the so-called ACP countries (Africa. Caribbean. Pacific) and those of the European Union, better known by the acronym ACP-EU, which offer means and financial allocations that are little sought after in the face of the European structural funds (ERDF and ESF) usually intended for the ORs.

From January 2022, France will take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union, so hasn't the time come to set up this full-fledged Cooperation POOL which would take into account the lack of partnership with neighboring ACP countries?

1 OR: European Outermost Regions including Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique and Reunion

2 Emmanuel Argo worked in Martinique where, moreover, he is at the origin of the installation of the Regional Union of the management union CFE-CGC. A lawyer in a law firm in Paris, he also taught European law at the university faculty. In Southern Africa, he has been a contributor to several institutions and an advisor to several governments. With the Institute for Business Innovation at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, he is co-author of the book entitled: Regional Integration – Economic Partnership for Eastern and Southern Africa. ISBN 978-620-38462-9. Moreover, as a representative of civil society in respect of England, he has made numerous recommendations to international bodies such as the G8 Civil Summits. He is a Fellow of the Oxford University Historical Society and in London, a Fellow of Chatham House/The Royal Institute for International Affairs. In France, in the Centre-Val-de-Loire region, he was elected municipal councilor of Thésée and member of the Economic Development Commission of the Community of communes of Val-de-Cher-Controis.