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Seven regions in the European Union are classified as 'outermost': the four French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Martinique, Réunion); the Spanish Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands; the Portuguese autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira.
The outermost regions have to cope with a number of specific constraints such as remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, and economic dependence on only a few products. The combination of these factors over time severely hinders the regions' socio-economic development. The recognition of their special status in Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is based on the principles of equality and proportionality, which allow regions to be treated differently in order to take their specific circumstances into account.