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EU Relations with Greenland

Greenland is the only Danish territory that is included in the list of OCTs (Overseas Countries and Territories) associated to the Community. Its capital is Nuuk. Greenland has a population of 56 376 inhabitants. Greenland’s economy is highly dependent on payments from Denmark and on fishing and fish exports.


The yearly block grant constitutes is over 40 percent of GDP. GDP pr. Capita is 26.800 Euro (2006).

Tourism has economic potential but remains rather limited due to a short season and high costs. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland’s economy. The natural resources of Greenland have not been exploited yet, even though oil exploitation may be possible.

Political background

Greenland is an autonomous community which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. In 1979, the Greenland "Home Rule Act" transferred nearly all responsibilities hitherto exercised by the Danish authorities to the autonomous authorities of Greenland. Denmark remains responsible for defence, foreign affairs and internal security, but Greenland’s involvement in these areas has gradually increased. Today, Greenland even has a relative autonomy within the Kingdom of Denmark at international level.

On Tuesday 25 November 2008, the people of Greenland voted ’yes’ for Self-Governance and on 21st of June 2009, 30 years after the first step was taken in Greenland towards more autonomy from Denmark with the introduction of "Home Rule", the self rule act was adopted. The Danish Prime minister welcomes the result, however, the move to Self Rule does not change the constitutional arrangements between Denmark and Greenland as the new arrangement is to be placed "within the framework of the existing unity of the Realm" and take its point of departure in Greenland's present constitutional position i.e. the existing Danish Constitution. Greenland also remains associated to the EU via the Overseas Association Decision. 

General parliament elections were held on June 2nd and the outcome of the elections revealed that the leading party in Greenland since 1979, Siumut, lost their majority. Instead, the election saw the left wing party IA double its mandates to 14 out of the 31 seats and is now by far the largest party in Greenland, as well as IA party leader Kuupik Kleist was nominated as Premier in a coalition government with the Democrats and an independent candidate.

External and regional environment

Greenland is an independent member of the Nordic Council. The Nordic Atlantic Cooperation and the West Nordic Foundation provide the basis for specific cooperation with Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. As regards the environment, Greenland takes part in the Arctic Council. It is a member of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, an NGO within the UN which is active in the area of cooperation between the Inuit peoples. Denmark and Greenland are also working, within the UN Human Rights Commission, towards the setting-up of a Permanent Forum for Inuit Peoples within the UN.

Relations with the EU

Until 31 December 2006, all Community financial assistance to Greenland (EUR 42.8 Million per year) was channelled through the Fisheries Agreement between the Community and Greenland.

Outside fisheries, Community financial assistance to Greenland amounts to EUR 25 million per year from 2007 until 2013 (thus a total of EUR 175 million for the entire 7-year period). This amount will be used for budget support to the "Greenland Education Programme", which involves a reform of the entire education and training sector in Greenland. This has been laid down in the "Programming Document for the Sustainable Development of Greenland", adopted by the Commission in June 2007. As financial assistance to Greenland is financed from the General Budget of the EU (and not the EDF), Financing Agreements have to be concluded annually.

Even though the 2007-2013 Community assistance to Greenland is used to support the reform of the education and training sector, the Greenland Home Rule Government is also seeking to strengthen cooperation with the Community in other areas and in particular on the environment, research and food safety. Such cooperation is possible on the basis of Greenland's status as one of the "Overseas Countries and Territories" associated with the Community.

Last update: 17/02/2012 | Top