THE HAGUE – “Due to the corona crisis, kingdom affairs have received less attention at the Council of State in the past year than otherwise”, according to the annual report of the Council published today. Only limited attention is therefore paid to kingdom relations.
But that does not alter the fact that the annual report contains passages that one on one also apply to the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom and that the governments of the islands in particular may be concerned, for example these:
“The relationship of mutual trust between governments and citizens is crucial for the proper functioning of our democratic constitutional state. If that trust fades, the rule of law will also fray. This relationship of trust cannot be taken for granted, but must be maintained and, where necessary, strengthened. Governments must act decisively and “deliver” what they have undertaken. A responsive government is and will remain of the utmost importance for the confidence of citizens. In other words, a government that has an open attitude, is knowledgeable and approachable; also, and precisely, to the mistakes it makes. This will have to be done vigorously in the coming period. This is the only way to maintain trust.”
Invest in links between the countries
The Council of State is not only the Council of State of the country of the Netherlands, but also the Council of State of the Kingdom. The Council is aware that the Kingdom cannot be taken for granted, but that substantive investments must be made in the links between the countries.
The Caribbean parts of the Kingdom have been hit hard by the corona crisis. It is inconceivable that the six Caribbean islands can overcome this crisis on their own. Fortunately, the Kingdom lends a helping hand with emergency aid, liquidity support and bailout packages.
At the start of the corona crisis, the financial and economic situation was far from rosy. A Caribbean reform and development body (COHO) is therefore being set up within the Kingdom to channel aid to the Caribbean countries and to supervise the implementation of the so-called country programs. The COHO is established by means of a statute. The Advisory Division of the Council of State of the Kingdom has advised on this.
Due to the corona crisis, other kingdom affairs at the Council of State received less attention than usual in the past year. This applies, for example, to the amended proposal for a Disputes Regulation Act that the Senate is dealing with.
In 2020, the Advisory Division gave its final judgment on the appeal of Curaçao against the designation of the Council of Ministers of July 2019. This instruction stipulates that Curaçao must compensate the deficit in the 2019 budget and must compensate the budget deficits of 2017 and 2018 with surpluses on the budgets of 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The draft Royal Decree of the Advisory Division was adopted in the Kingdom Council of Ministers at the end of November and published in December. The government of Curaçao has been largely in the right, also because in the opinion of the Advisory Division the designation was no longer necessary after the Netherlands and Curaçao had concluded the so-called Growth Agreement. Due to the consequences of the corona pandemic, the expected establishment of the COHO and the Growth Agreement, the indication seems outdated by the facts.
Despite the corona crisis, we can also look back in 2020 on a fruitful collaboration with the Joint Court of Justice in Willemstad and with the Advisory Councils of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. A close working relationship has existed for many years between the Administrative Jurisdiction Division and the Common Court. Several state councilors of the Administrative Jurisdiction Division contribute to the settlement of court cases as deputy justice in the Court.
Two weeks of session were held in 2020 in which some sixty cases were dealt with. Several digital consultations have taken place with the three Caribbean Advisory Councils. A joint informal digital advisory council meeting took place on 14 December 2020, during which certain issues from recent advisory practice were discussed.