The United Kingdom said it will be evaluating the future funding of Overseas Territories (OT’s) like the BVI in a Spending Review later this year.
The UK government gave the indication while responding to recommendations from the House of Commons and the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) on its long-term vision for the funding of OT’s, including replacing any lost European Union funding as a result of Brexit.
“The UK government continues to be committed to building successful and resilient economies in the OTs,” the UK government said in a May 2019 response.
To facilitate spending considerations, the British government said they will establish an Inter-Ministerial Group to meet to examine the issue of whether to develop a dedicated OT fund.
“We will inform the [aforesaid] Committee of its outcome,” it added.
UK funding for OT environment protection
In the meantime, UK said it will also be considering future funding for the Blue Belt programme beyond March 2020. The Blue Belt programme is the UK government’s commitment to providing long-term protection of the marine environment of the OT’s.
The programme, according to the UK government’s website, provides £20 million of funding across four years – from 2016 to 2020. Among other things, the programme was designed to improve scientific understanding of the marine environment, develop and implement evidence-based and tailored maritime management strategies including surveillance and enforcement.
Funding after Brexit
As it relates to the future possible impact as a result of Brexit, the UK government said, they have worked closely with their OT’s in the last two years “to understand fully their interests and concerns relating to EU Exit and remains in close dialogue on these matters”.
As it relates to current benefits that the OT’s derive from the EU, the UK government said: “In the event of no [Brexit] deal [between the UK and the European Union], the Chancellor has agreed that the UK government will guarantee funding for specific EU projects over their lifetime, should it be required.”
“This will provide certainty for the OTs and participating organisations over the course of EU exit,” the British government added.
The future funding and programming arrangements for the OT’s after the year 2020 will also be part of the spending review, the UK informed.
“When reviewing future options, careful consideration will be given to any loss of EU funding the OTs may experience as a result of the UK leaving the EU. Any future funding arrangements will need to demonstrate value for money and adopt a consistent approach across all government departments that manage such funds,” the UK government said.
Notably, no decisions have been taken on this matter, but the OTs will be fully consulted in the process, and the FAC report will be taken into consideration for future funding, the government further said.
Wide-ranging recommendations for OT funding
The government which is led by British Prime Minister, Theresa May, described some of the recommendations it received from the FAC as “wide-ranging and significant in scope”.
The said government, therefore, reasoned that those recommendations “will require careful analysis and consultation across a range of government departments”.
Some of the EU programmes currently benefitting the OT’s include the European Development Fund, Horizon 2020, the Voluntary Scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories and Erasmus.
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