OCT - EU relations in detail

OCT - EU relations in detail

Specific characteristics of the OCTs

There are significant differences between the OCTs themselves in terms of the degree of autonomy vis-à-vis the Member States to which they are linked, their economic and social development as well as their particular geography and climate. However, they do share common characteristics: none of them is a sovereign country, they are all parliamentary democracies, they are all islands, the size of their populations is very small and their ecological richness is extraordinary compared to continental Europe.

Their location, as well as their natural wealth, grants them significant advantages as does their role as European outposts in their respective regions. At the same time, they are all vulnerable to external shocks and are in general dependent on a narrow economic base that mostly revolves around services. In this light, the objective of the partnership with the EU consists in enhancing the OCTs’ competitiveness, strengthening their resilience, reducing their economic and environmental vulnerability and promoting cooperation between them and other partners. Specific arrangements are therefore established regarding trade and trade-related cooperation, while financial cooperation is foreseen in order to assist OCTs in their sustainable development.

 

Legal framework

Under Part IV of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Articles 198 to 204), "the Member States agree to associate with the Union the non-European countries and territories which have special relations with Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom" (Article 198).The European acquis does not apply to OCTs; instead, the detailed rules and procedures for the Association are provided for by the Council Decision 2013/755/EU on the Association of the OCTs with the European Union which was adopted on of 25 November 2013. It aims to modernise the relationship of the EU with its OCTs, moving beyond development cooperation and focusing on a reciprocal relationship based on mutual interests.

The Overseas Association Decision (OAD) offers a modernised trade regime that focuses on three main areas: trade in goods, trade in services and cooperation on trade-related issues. This is expected to have a positive effect on the OCT trading environment. It will rank OCTs among the EU's most favoured trading partners. not only because of the OCTs' duty- and quota-free access to the EU market for goods, but also because the OCTs will automatically receive better terms of trade in services and establishment. In addition, by changing the conditions under which OCT goods and services access the EU market, it should become easier for OCTs to translate market openings into real export opportunities.

Its objectives include:

  • The establishment of close economic relations between the EU and the OCTs as a whole, amongst others through an improvement of the trade arrangements;
  • The establishment of a more reciprocal relationship between EU and OCTs based on mutual interests and shared values;
  • The enhancement of OCTs' competitiveness;
  • The strengthening of OCTs' resilience and reduction of their vulnerability;
  • The promotion of cooperation of OCTs with third partners;
  • The promotion of EU's values, standards and interests in the wider world via the OCTs.

This Decision replaces the Council Decision 2001/822/EC, which expired on 31 December 2013. It is the outcome of long consultations and negotiations between the Commission (Task Force OCT), OCTs and Member States, which started with the European Commission’s proposal for a post-2013 Overseas Association Council Decision and it accompanying Impact Assessment Report in July 2012. This proposal is the result of a long process initiated by the Green Paper on future relations between the EU and the OCTs on 25 June 2008. A wide public consultation followed between 1 July and 17 October 2008, the outcome of which was subsequently presented in the Commission Communication, "Elements for a new partnership between the EU and the OCTs". Following its publication, the Council adopted on 22 December 2009 conclusions welcoming "the Commission’s reflections on how to best further develop and strengthen the EU-OCT partnership and foster sustainable development in the OCTs". At the 10th OCT-EU Forum in March 2011, the OCTs and the Member States to which they are linked, adopted a Joint Position Paper a crucial document for the revision of the OAD.

In the case of Greenland, the EU has a comprehensive partnership, which is complementary to the OCT association arrangements under the OAD, and which is based on: (i) Council Decision 2014/137 of 14 March 2014 on relations between the European Community on the one hand, and Greenland and the Kingdom of Denmark on the other and (ii) the Fisheries Partnership Agreement of 30 July 2006 between the European Community on the one hand, and the Government of Denmark and the Home Rule Government of Greenland, on the other.

 

Dialogue between the EU and the OCTs

There is a constant dialogue between the partners, e.g. through

  • the annual OCT-EU forum (Commission, all OCTs and all the Member States to which they are linked),
  • regular tripartite meetings (Commission, all OCTs and the Member States to which they are linked), and
  • partnership meetings (Commission, individual OCT and related Member State).

EU financial cooperation with OCTs

The EU provides financial support for each OCT's development strategy (set out in a 'Programming Document'). Total EU funding through the European Development Fund (EDF) for all OCTs for the 2014-2020 period amounts to €364,5 million. Greenland is not eligible to EDF funds but receives funds from the General budget of the EU on the basis of the Partnership Agreement between the EU, Denmark and Greenland. The OCTs also receive funding under programmes funded by the general budget of the EU (e.g. research, education, innovation and competitiveness, culture and media, etc.).

 

Indicative* allocation 10th EDF-OCT (in million EUR)

Indicative* allocation 11th EDF-OCT (in million EUR)

Territorial

195.00

229.5

Aruba

8.88

13.0

Bonaire

3.00

3.9

Curaçao

11.25

16.9

Saba

3.00

3.5

St-Eustatius

2.00

2.4

St-Maarten

4.75

7.0

New Caledonia

19.81

29.8

French Polynesia

19.79

29.9

Wallis et Futuna

16.49

19.6

Saint-Pierre et Miquelon

20.74

26.3

Mayotte

22.92

 

Anguilla

11.70

14.0

Montserrat

15.66

18.4

Turks et Caicos

11.85

14.6

Pitcairn

2.40

2.4

Falkland Islands

4.13

5.9

Saint Helena, Ascencion and Tristan da Cunha

16.63

21.5

Regional

40.00

100.00

Reserve B

15.00

21.50

EIB Investement Facility

30.00

5.00

     

Greenland

2007-2013

2014-2020

 

175.00

217.8

* Precise amount defined in individual Financing Decisions.