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Regional policy & outermost regions

Commission boosts cooperation between outermost regions and neighbours

New guidelines from the Commission should help to step up cooperation between the EU's outermost regions and their neighbours in the Caribbean, West Africa and the Indian Ocean.

EU outermost regions (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Mayotte, Saint-Martin, Madeira, the Azores and the Canary Islands) receive funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries States and the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) benefit from aid for development cooperation under the European Development Fund (EDF).

New rules put in place for 2014-2020 are designed to make it easier to develop joint ERDF-EDF projects. In order to put these rules into effect, detailed guidance has been issued jointly by the Commission's DGs for Regional and Urban Policy (REGIO) and for Development and Cooperation (EuropeAid). This guidance is addressed to the relevant EU institutions, as well as partners from the ACP, OCT and Outermost Regions.

One example of a successful ERDF-EDF project is SmartFish, a sustainable fisheries programme in Africa, which includes participation from Réunion.

The Guidance Note is currently available in French, Spanish, Portuguese, English and Dutch.

European Commission urges outermost regions to set their sights on EU 2020 goals and to capitalize on their individual strengths

The European Commission will be hosting the "Third Forum of the Outermost Regions" in Brussels on 30 September-1 October to discuss joint efforts towards more dynamic economic and social development in the outermost regions and to realize their full potential. The event brings together the Presidents of Europe's outermost regions, representatives from their three Member States, members of civil society and the business sector as well as representatives of the EU institutions: José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Michel Lebrun, President of the Committee of the Regions, Rossella Rusca, Representative of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Louis-Joseph Manscour, member of European Parliament.

The Forum is expected to facilitate important exchanges on how to help the nine regions (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Reunion, Martinique, St Martin, the Azores, Madeira, Mayotte and the Canary Islands) to target resources and investments in the most optimal way, capitalising on their specific characteristics and strengths.

The Presidents will gather under the theme "9 regions at the heart of the Europe of today and tomorrow". Three thematic panels will focus on: employment and education; sectors with high potential for the development of the regions and regional integration and increased accessibility. The overall aim is to make the best use of the resources available to these regions and to maximize results

Speech of Commission President Jose Manual Barroso

 More information:

Mayotte: the new outermost region from 1 January 2014

By Decision 2012/419/EU, the European Council amended the status of Mayotte with regard to the Union with effect from 1 January 2014. Therefore, from that date Mayotte ceased to be an overseas territory to become an outermost region within the meaning of Articles 349 and 355(1) TFEU. Union law will apply to Mayotte from 1 January 2014. The Council and the Parliament has adopted specific legislative measures providing transitional periods in the areas of environment, agriculture, social policy, public health, fisheries animal health,and fiscality :

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2013/61/EU of 17 December 2013 COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2013/61/EU of 17 December 2013 amending Directives 2006/112/EC and 2008/118/EC as regards the French outermost regions and Mayotte in particular – OJ 2013 12 28 - L 353-5

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2013/62/EU of 17 December 2013 amending Directive 2010/18/EU implementing the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC, following the amendment of the status of Mayotte with regard to the European Union – OJ 2013 12 28 - L 353-7

COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2013/64/EU of 17 December 2013 amending Council Directives 91/271/EEC and 1999/74/EC, and Directives 2000/60/EC, 2006/7/EC, 2006/25/EC and 2011/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, following the amendment of the status of Mayotte with regard to the European Union- OJ 2013 12 28 - L 353-8

COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) No 1385/2013 of 17 December 2013 amending Council Regulations (EC) No 850/98 and (EC) No 1224/2009, and Regulations (EC) No 1069/2009, (EU) No 1379/2013 and (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council, following the amendment of the status of Mayotte with regard to the European Union – OJ 2013 12 28 - L 354-86

Previous News


3rd Forum of the Outermost Regions: 9 Regions at the heart of the Europe of today and tomorrow

Brussels, 30th September — 1st October 2014

Following in the footsteps of the forums of 2010 and 2012, this year's gathering will bring together hundreds of participants, including experts and representatives from the outermost regions and the countries concerned, as well as from the EU institutions and interest groups and stakeholders.

The event will take place at the dawn of a new era for several key institutions of the European Union and at a moment when the Europe-wide priorities of EU Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020 are being translated into investment priorities through strategic Partnership Agreements, programmes and plans in the Member States.

3rd Forum website


The EU has 9 regions that are geographically very distant from the European continent but that form integral part of the EU.

The 9 outermost regions are:

  • 5 French overseas departments – Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion and Mayotte *
  • 1 French overseas communities – Saint-Martin
  • 2 Portuguese autonomous regions – Madeira and the Azores
  • 1 Spanish autonomous community – the Canary Islands

* Mayotte, former OCT, from March 2011 officially the 5th Overseas French department and 101st French departement, expressed the wish supported by the French authorities to become an OR in 2014.

EU law (all rights and duties associated with EU membership) applies to the “outermost regions” except for the cases where there are specific measures for these regions, in contrast to the overseas countries and territories, which have a different legal status.*

* The overseas countries and territories (OCT) are the 21 countries and territories listed in Annex II to the Treaty. As they do not belong to the Union, EU law does not apply to them, with the exception of the association regime based on Part IV of the Treaty.

OR in sound and images

OR in figures


  Location Capital Surface area Population Per capita GDP (EU=100)
Azores Atlantic Ponta Delgada 2 333 km2 246 800 72.4
Canaries Atlantic Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife 7 447 km2 2 118 000 82.2
Guadeloupe Caribbean Basse-Terre 1 710 km2 403 355 76.6
French Guiana South America Cayenne 84 000 km2 229 040 52.5
Madeira Atlantic Funchal 795 km2 267 785 99.5
Martinique Caribbean Fort-de-France 1 080 km2 394 173 76.8
Réunion Indian Ocean Saint-Denis 2 510 km2 839 500 68.7
Saint-Martin Caribbean Marigot 53 km2 36 661 61.9
Mayotte Indian Ocean Mamoudzou 376 km2 212 645 24.8

Source: 2010-2011-2012

The specificities of OR


The regions face several obstacles to full development – remoteness, insularity, terrain, climate, economic dependence and the narrow range of goods they produce.

And assets...

However, they also have a valuable contribution to make:

  • diversification – the outermost regions give the EU wider territorial waters than it would otherwise have and a diverse economy, providing rum, sugar cane, bananas and other tropical fruit and vegetables for European consumers
  • strategic importance –: the regions offer the EU tremendous opportunities for developing relations with neighbouring countries in Macaronesia, the Caribbean and the south-west Indian Ocean
  • research and hi-tech industries, e.g.:
    • IAC, the Canary Islands' Astrophysics Institute
    • the European Space Agency's centre in French Guiana
    • University of the Azores' oceanography and fisheries department
    • CRVOI, the centre for research on emerging diseases, in Réunion
    • Guadeloupe's under-water broadband cables
    • agri-environmental research cluster on Martinique
    • Madeira's multi-purpose power station

Legal basis and OR strategy

In the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the outermost regions are covered in Article 349, which requires that EU policies must be adjusted to their special circumstances.

EU strategy for the OR

In the past, specific support programmes have been developed for these regions: POSEIDOM for the French overseas departments (1989), POSEICAN for the Canary Islands (1991) and POSEIMA for the Azores and Madeira (1991) – Their aims were to improve infrastructure, promote job-creating industries and develop human resources.

In 2006 the support system was reformed, and replaced by POSEI programmes, with funding allocated to each of the three EU countries to which the regions belong.

Since 2004, the EU has had an integrated strategy, based on active partnership between EU institutions, national governments and the outermost regions. The three priorities are to make the regions more accessible, more competitive and more integrated with the countries around them. These priorities – and other measures – are explained in the Strategy for the outermost regions pdf.


Current EU strategy for the OR

In 2004, the EU set out a comprehensive strategy for the OR based on active partnership between the European institutions, Member States and the OR, centred around hree  areas: reducing their accessibility deficit, making them more competitive and improving regional integration. Additional measures were proposed in the Communication entitled ‘Strategy for the outermost regions: achievements and future prospects’.

In October 2008, a new Commission policy paper, "The outermost regions – an asset for Europe" set two objectives:

  • address new difficulties facing the outermost regions – globalisation, climate change, demographic trends, migratory flows, sustainable management of natural resources, including marine resources and agricultural products.
  • exploit the regions' assets to boost economic development, with particular focus on sectors with high added-value, such as the agri-food industry, biodiversity, renewable energy, astrophysics, aerospace, oceanography, vulcanology, seismology, and to promote the regions' role as outposts of the EU in the world.

In May 2010, the European Commission organised the First Forum for Outermost Europe at the initiative of DG REGIO. This broad, high-level event provided an opportunity to apply the proactive partnership between the European Commission, the OR, Member States and the European Parliament to set up a forum to exchange  views on matters of interest regarding future challenges of the OR.

Action Plans of OR

Azores pdf pt

Canarias pdf es

Guadeloupe pdf fr

Guyane pdf fr

La Réunion pdf fr

Madeira pdf pt

St Martin pdf fr


EU support for the development of OR

The EU will invest over EUR 11 billion in OR between 2007 and 2013 (funded by: ERDF, ESF, EAFRD, EFF, POSEI). These funds are included in several programmes:

- ERDF: EUR 4.5 billion (European Regional Development Fund)
OR also benefit from ERDF envelopes earmarked for technical cooperation under 4 programmes set up by geographical area. See programmes and projects for more information.
- ESF (European Social Fund): EUR 1.3 billion
- EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development): EUR 1.2 billion
- EFF (European Fisheries Fund): EUR 101.4 million
- POSEI (Programme of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity): EUR 4.16 billion

POSEI financial envelopes in millions € -



FY* 2007

FY 2008

FY 2009

FY 2010

FY 2011 & ff.**

French overseas departments






Azores and Madeira






Canary islands












*=financial year **= future financial years

European Grant Amounts by Region (2007-2013) (in thousands €)

Açores 996500 190000 274000
Canaries 1019000 117000 153000
Guadeloupe 542000 185000 138000
Guyane 305000 100000 74000
Madeira 320500 125000 175000
Martinique 417000 98000 100000
Réunion 1014000 517000 319000
Total 4584000 1332000 1233000

In addition to Structural Fund programmes, numerous other European initiatives take account of the specificities of these regions, especially in terms of competition, agriculture, research and trade.
For example:
- DG Environment programmes, such as:

  • Natura 2000
  • BEST (Voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of the EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories): an envelope of EUR 2 million has been earmarked for financing preparations for implementation of the BEST programme for OCT and OR in order to protect and promote their biodiversity.
  • Life+

- DG Research programmes:

  • FPRTD (Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development)
  • CIP (Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme)


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