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Steady progress being made in the execution of the Franco-Dutch treaty

On Tuesday January 19, 2016 the Executive Committee established to steer the execution of the Franco-Dutch treaty met at the Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP) building on A.T. Illidge Road to discuss the progress of the cooperation between the French side and Dutch side immigration officers at the airports on the island. This was the second meeting of the Committee that took place.

The French side committee members are Commander Jean-Luc-Deras and Captain Aveline Fernandes of the Police Aux Frontière (PAF), the French immigration agency. The committee members from the Dutch side are Chief Prosecutor Ton Maan, director of IBP Udo Aron and policy adviser Johishi Romney.

The committee exchanged views on how the combined efforts of the French and Dutch side immigration officers could yield greater results. The Immigration and Border Patrol Services (IBP) will be implementing a more sophisticated border control system at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) in the very near future and in cooperation with the PAF, the use of this system will increase the effectiveness of the joint passenger controls that are conducted. Currently, PAF officers are present at PJIA twice a week for flights coming to Sint Maarten which are considered to be risk flights. A presence of Dutch immigration officers at L'Espérance Airport, popularly known as Grand Case Airport, is expected later this year.

In view of the different visa policies that French and Dutch Sint Maarten apply, the Committee also focused on ways information could be better shared between the two. For example, travelers that are allowed to travel to a Schengen country such as France without a visa are not automatically granted admission to Saint Martin. Schengen countries are European countries that have eliminated border controls with other Schengen member states and have signed vise exemptions for selected countries. Travelers visiting Saint Martin instead must be in possession of a visa for the territory as Saint Martin is not considered a Schengen country. Joint operations and training on visa policies and trainings on forged travel documents were also discussed in the meeting.

The Committee meets at least once a year according to article 14 (2) of the Treaty. The next Franco-Dutch Treaty meeting will take place in the second half of the year on the French side of the island.