By Daniel Toft, Communications Assistant
Representatives from across various UK Government departments and the elected leaders of the Overseas Territories (OTs) met in London for the Joint Ministerial Council on the 11-12th May, whilst the leaders were in the UK for the Coronation of King Charles III, after the previous scheduled meeting was postponed from 7th November 2022 due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. The council is the primary forum for the UK Government and the leaders of all territories to discuss shared challenges and strengthen the relationship between them. Following the meeting of the council, a joint communiqué was issued to outline the contents of their discussions and the subsequent agreements.
In a significant move to deepen the partnership and enhance the working relationship between the UK and the OTs, the UK Government announced that a Minister within each Government department will be assigned with a responsibility for their respective department’s relationship with the OTs, with the group of Ministers meeting as a group with the Minister for the OTs, who is currently the Rt Hon. The Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park. This step represents closer collaboration between the UK Government and the OTs, especially on a departmental basis, helping to address the unique challenges faced by the OTs.
Another prominent feature of the council was the emphasis on law enforcement and border control, with the UK noting their commitment to funding this area within the OTs to the tune of over £10 million in 2023-24 and an acknowledgement of the “irregular-migration challenges” that a number of OTs are experiencing as a result of the declining security situation in Haiti. All parties later announced that a new forum between the British Government and the OTs had been launched at the ministerial level “focused on tackling illicit finance” and safeguarding their respective financial systems from illegal actors. The communiqué highlighted areas such as anti-money laundering and the enforcement of sanctions as key areas that will be covered, whilst also noting and thanking the OTs for their efforts in implementing and enforcing sanctions against Russia at present.
Other areas including climate change were discussed, with the UK and the OTs working to develop a new biodiversity strategy, and education, with the council noting that whilst students are provided university tuition fees loans, they cannot currently access maintenance loans.
The full joint communiqué can be found by clicking here.