Today Samira Rafaela and her colleague Stéphane Bijoux officially launch the Friends of the OCTs group in the European Parliament.

During her election campaign, Samira pledged to represent the interests of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) at the European level. When she was elected as a Member of the European Parliament, Samira made the effort to set up a Friendship Group. She soon noticed that the OCTs are often a blind spot in the EU. She wants to change this. She starts with creating structural attention for the OCTs through a Friendship Group.

The European Union has 13 overseas countries and territories (OCTs) that are located all around the world. These islands have an associated status with the EU because of their special relationship with three EU member states: The Netherlands, Denmark and France.

Though the OCTs are geographically far away from the European continent, we are all connected within the same European Union. All citizens of the OCTs are EU citizens. For Samira personally, the relationship with the Dutch OCTs is very important. They need good representation on the EU level.

Stéphane and Samira share the goal of strengthening the positions of the OCTs on the European level, and raise awareness for European programs. That is why they launch the Friends of the OCTs Group in the European Parliament.

To improve the relationship between the EU and the OCTs, we need to actively reach out to the islands, autonomous countries and their communities. We need to listen to the issues they have when interacting with the EU, get rid of the obstacles they face, and utilize the opportunities they see for a stronger connection. It is important to engage the youth in this process. They are the future!

The launch of the Friendship Group takes place on Tuesday the 29th of June from 15:00-16:30 CET. To attend the event, click here.