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International Partnerships

A Dutch overseas territory located in the Caribbean, Saba’s total area is 13 km², its population numbers around 2,200, and its main economic driver is the tourism sector. In October 2010, with the dismantlement of the Netherlands Antilles, Saba became a ‘special municipality’ of the Netherlands.

In Saba, the executive power rests with the governing council, headed by the island governor who gets appointed by the King of the Netherlands. The governing council decides on the local economy and infrastructure, but the central Dutch government retained regal functions and decides on the main policies.

Although characterised by a relatively high GDP per capita, Saba still has a high poverty rate due mainly to a disparity in the distribution of income. The island’s poor soils, absence of fresh water sources, and inadequate rainfall hamper agricultural development, and housing is rare and expensive due to a tradition of private ownership and Saba’s volcanic topography. Moreover, Saba, like the rest of the region, is often affected by devastating natural disasters, such as hurricanes.

Our priorities

The EU’s relations with Saba are framed by the articles 198-204 of the Treaty of the functioning of the EU (TFEU), which foresees that the EU’s association with overseas countries and territories (OCTs) should help promote OCTs’ economic and social development and establish close economic relations between them and with the EU.

The Council’s decision on the association of OCTs with the EU (2013) deepened this idea, speaking of a ‘reciprocal partnership’ to support OCTs’ sustainable development, based on areas of mutual interest.

With each European Development Fund (EDF) programming period, the EU’s bilateral cooperation with Saba evolved both in terms of supported sectors and implementation modalities. For example, under the 10th EDF (2007-2013), the focus was on infrastructure and social housing, first through sector support and then, from 2017 onwards, through budget support. Under the current 11th EDF (2014-2020), the focus has shifted towards renewable energy through sector reform contracts (form of budget support).

Our impact

Aside from bilateral support, Saba also benefits from EDF regional projects in the Caribbean, some of which have proved successful, for example, in:

  • halving the incidence rate of HIV in OCTs
  • facilitating a public-private dialogue to stimulate business while protecting the most vulnerable
  • improving infrastructure and housing options
  • reducing dependence on fossil fuels
  • protecting marine biodiversity
  • reinforcing resilience to natural disasters

Our programmes

Bilateral cooperation under the 11th EDF (2014-2020), in alignment with Saba’s national development strategy and with a budget of €3.55 million, aims to:

  • increase the share of renewable energy in Saba’s energy mix
  • modernise and improve the reliability of Saba’s power system
  • reduce the cost of electricity
  • ensure equitable access for all to quality energy services

Other regional cooperation programmes which Saba also benefits from include:

  • a €18 million all-OCTs thematic programme facilitating and promoting the sustainable management of OCTs’ natural resources by giving them the necessary tools and information to address climate change and sustainable energy
  • a €40 million Caribbean regional programme seeking sustainable energy solutions at regional level to promote economies of scale, addressing the degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems, and building resilience through adaptation projects

Our cooperation with Saba is always in close coordination with the Dutch representation in Aruba and the Government of the Netherlands.


Council decision on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the EU (2013)
(1.93 MB - PDF)
Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme 2014-2020
(2.71 MB - PDF)