Monday, 26 December 2011

'I encourage the people of Gibraltar to participate' says UK Minister

Europe Minister David Lidington
LONDON (By Europe Minister David Lidington) The UK Government is carrying out a public consultation on the UK Overseas Territories, in order to inform our policy towards the Territories. As the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister responsible for Gibraltar, I am keen that the people of Gibraltar should make a full contribution to the consultation. Details of how to participate are below, but first I would like to give you a little background.>>>
Last year the Foreign Secretary commissioned a review of the UK Government’s approach to its relations with the 14 UK Overseas Territories. Work on the review has involved discussions across the whole of the UK Government, and on 14 September 2011 the Foreign Secretary announced to Parliament that the National Security Council (NSC) had agreed the principles of a new Strategy to frame the UK’s relationships with the Territories.

The UK has a fundamental responsibility to ensure the security and good governance of the Overseas Territories. We reviewed the constitutional status of all the Territories and concluded that the basic structure of the UK’s constitutional relationships with the Territories was right, with powers devolved to the elected governments of the populated Territories to the maximum extent possible, consistent with the UK retaining the powers necessary to discharge our sovereign responsibilities. In the case of Gibraltar, those arrangements are embodied in the 2006 Constitution, to which the UK Government remains committed. 

Our approach is therefore not to seek constitutional change but to ensure that the arrangements already in place promote the best interests of the UK and of the Territories, including Gibraltar, both now and in the future. Our Strategy focuses on three practical policy goals:

• To strengthen the engagement and interaction between the UK and the Overseas Territories.

• To work with Territories to strengthen good governance arrangements, public financial management and economic planning, where this is necessary.

• To improve the quality and range of support available to the Territories. The Overseas Territories are remarkably diverse, and that policies to meet these objectives need to be tailored to the specific circumstances of each Territory. The Strategy is an overall framework and does not make specific proposals for the UK’s relationship with any individual Territory. Instead we are seeking the views of all Territory Governments and communities on how we should deliver our policy goals in the areas of engagement, governance and support. To this end the Foreign and Commonwealth Office launched a public consultation on 27 September 2011. Although Gibraltarians have been able to participate in the consultation since its launch on the FCO’s web-based platform, we considered that it would be inappropriate to publicise the consultation actively in Gibraltar in the run up to Gibraltar’s general election.

Now that the election has been held, we would like to encourage all parts of the Gibraltar community to participate in the consultation and help us to create a shared vision for the future. We would welcome contributions from as many people as possible in Gibraltar, with connections to Gibraltar or an interest in Gibraltar. We would welcome your views on the challenges that Gibraltar faces and on what the UK Government might do to engage with and support Gibraltar. We also want to hear your views on Gibraltar’s strengths and achievements, from which other Territories might be able to learn. The results of the consultation will help inform the Strategy as the Government prepares for the publication of a White Paper on the Overseas Territories in 2012.

This document will set out publicly and in detail our approach to the Overseas Territories. We want it to showcase the successes of the Territories and the vital contribution of Territory Governments. At the same time, we do not want to shy away from acknowledging where necessary the challenges that Territories face, and setting out how the UK and Territory Governments can work together to tackle these. Above all, the White Paper should help people in the UK and the Territories to understand how we can work together to strengthen our partnerships.

The FCO’s web-based platform for the consultation will remain open for contributions until midnight on 31 December 2011. However, in order to give the people of Gibraltar as much time as possible to participate following the recent elections the FCO will continue to accept responses about Gibraltar after 31 December, by private email and post only, until 20 January 2012.

You will not be able to make new contributions online on the FCO’s web-based platform after 31 December, although the public responses to the six questions to which you are invited to respond will still be on the platform, which will remain open for viewing until 1 July 2012.

I warmly encourage the people of Gibraltar to participate in this consultation. By doing so you can help us to ensure that the relationship that has served Gibraltar and the UK so well for 300 years continues to work in the best interests of all. FCO consultation on Overseas Territories Strategy:

Questions 1. What are the main challenges facing your Territory/the Territories?

2. Cooperation with the UK
   i. What are the most important areas of cooperation between your Territory/the Territories and the UK?
  ii. In what areas would you like to see greater engagement and interaction between the UK and your
     Territory/the Territories?
iii. How can the UK and your Territory/the Territories strengthen cooperation and build more effective

3. Governance, financial management and economic planning
    i. How do you assess the quality of good governance, public financial management and economic planning in your Territory/the Territories?
      ii. What are the priorities for improvement?
      iii. How can the UK best work with your Territory/the Territories to strengthen these areas?

4. External support
     i. What do you think of the quality and range of external support (i.e. support other than from the UK) available to your Territory/the Territories, including from regional bodies, the Commonwealth, and the European Union?
     ii. What can the UK best do to help Territories access external support?

5. Cooperation between Territories
    i. What potential do you see for increased cooperation and partnership between Territories?
   ii. In which areas does your Territory/the Territories provide support to other Territories? How might this be expanded?

6. Global profile of the Territories
   i. How does your Territory/the Territories promote its successes?
  ii. What more could be done to raise Territories’ profile internationally?
  iii. How can the UK best support this? 

How to take part in the consultation
You can take part in the consultation by the following means:

• Online by leaving a public comment on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office platform under any or all of the six questions at:

• By private email to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, preferably by selecting that option on the plat form above before 31 December, which will open a pro forma e-mail including the six questions and a space for additional comments. After 31 December you can send an e-mail in relation to Gibraltar to:

• By post to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London at: Overseas Territories Consultation Strategy and Co-ordination Section Room K220, Overseas Territories Directorate Foreign &; Commonwealth Office King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH

Responses about all UK Overseas Territories will be accepted on the FCO web platform until 31 December 2011; the platform will remain available for viewing until 1 July 2012. Responses about Gibraltar only will continue to be accepted after 31 December, by private email and post only, until 20 January 2012.

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