Last Updated on Wednesday, 5 July 2023, 21:15 by Denis Chabrol
Leaders of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have decided to fully liberalise free movement of all categories of persons across the Single Market by early next year, and to amend the Treaty of Chaguaramas to guarantee them access to a limited number of services, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley said.
“Freedom of movement of people so is all. There is no services anymore…This now gives full expression to what every Caribbean person has wanted since we have had control of our destiny,” she told a news conference at the end of this year’s regular CARICOM summit
She said the Treaty would be amended to guarantee access to primary health care, emergency health care; nursery, primary and secondary education to harmonise expectations of Caribbean peoples when they move through the region. “We recognise, as well, that there will have to be an approach that does not put countries or make countries liable to any form of suit with respect to some of the rights so there has to be a minimum set of rights guaranteed for the movement of citizens,” she said.
CARICOM Chairman, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt said legal experts were tasked with submitting a report to regional leaders by March 30, 2024 to allow for a “definitive position” to be taken. “At 50 (years), we could not leave Trinidad and Tobago and not speak about the core of the integration movement- that is people’s ability to move freely within the Caribbean Community,” he said.
Currently, university graduates, media workers, artistes, musicians, sportspersons, nurses, teachers, artisans with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification and holders of Associate Degrees or comparable qualification are allowed to live and work freely throughout the 13-member Single Market. The Bahamas and Montserrat are not members of the single market.
Meanwhile, CARICOM leaders are due to hold a retreat in Dominica on August 18- 19 to review a number of reports including regional governance and strengthen functional cooperation, ahead of their next mid-term summit scheduled for Guyana. “These are the things which matter to the average person in the streets of the Caribbean Community- that they can see tangible benefits,” Mr Skerritt said.