Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu is attending the 20th Conference of Presidents of the EU's Outermost Regions (ORs) hosted by Victorin Lurel, President of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe. The conference will discuss joint efforts to help the nine peripheral regions (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion, Saint-Martin, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands) to better target resources and investments towards economic and social development.

Commissioner Creţu, who is responsible for coordinating all EU policies for these regions, will continue working closely with the Outermost Regions to ensure that EU funds are used in the most optimal way so that there is tangible positive impact on their economies. In particular, the fight against unemployment, further regional integration as well as the increase of the use of renewable energies to face climate change are key to their development.

Commenting ahead of the Conference, Commissioner Creţu said: "By virtue of their geography, these regions encounter a range of specific difficulties but also have some unique assets. This requires the Commission to give them the particular attention they deserve. Regional policy provides the Outermost Regions with the right instruments to transform their potential into real growth opportunities. However, the funds will only have an impact on the ground if we are all able to identify, select and implement projects that make a difference. I deeply welcome the opportunity to continue working in partnership with the three Member States and the nine Outermost Regions to set those regions on the path to growth.”

Following the 3rd Forum on Outermost Europe in Brussels on 30 September 2014, this conference will expand discussions on the implementation of the five priority axes: 1) accessibility, 2) competitiveness, 3) regional integration, 4) reinforcement of the social dimension, and 5) climate change. Each of the Outermost Regions has an individual Action Plan outlining their respective long-term development strategies including how they can best use EU tools.

For 2014-2020 more than EUR 6.6 billion of European Structural and Investment Funds (ERDF and ESF) are allocated to better equipping these nine regions to overcome economic and environmental difficulties and to make them more self-reliant by turning their disadvantages into real assets and opportunities.

Commissioner Creţu will be joined at the conference by the Presidents of Europe's Outermost Regions, representatives from their three Member States (Spain, Portugal and France), Mr Manscour and Mr Omarjee, Members of the European Parliament, and a representative from the President of the European Economic and Social Committee.

During the Conference Guadeloupe will hand over the annual rotating presidency of the Outermost Regions to the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

Description of projects visited during the event:

Commissioner Creţu will embark on a 3-day tour of the archipelago of Guadeloupe visiting the following projects co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF):

Memorial ACTe: a memorial dedicated to the history of the slave trade in the region, it is meant to inform and educate locals and tourists, but also to show the cultural legacy of slavery (Project in the pipeline. Total investment: €41 million with ERDF: €17 million).

The Port of Pointe-à-Pitre: located in a region vulnerable to natural disasters, but open to international trade, the port is a highly important infrastructure for the economy of the archipelago. The port authority aims to expand the port's capacity to better deal with maritime traffic and strengthen security measures to face natural disasters (ERDF 2007-2013: €8.7 million, ERDF 2014-2020: €12 million).

Ecodec - World-class recycling centre: Addressing the concern for safe waste disposal in an island with limited landfill space, this state-of-the-art recycling unit for plastics and tyres can now process up to 30,000 tonnes of waste a year. Besides protecting the population’s health, these facilities contribute to preserving the fragile natural environment (Total investment: €14 808 100 with ERDF: €5 356 900).

La Gabarre (Syvade):rehabilitation of the site for better waste disposal, waste management and pollution control. The site also includes a monitoring equipment and supervision system (Total investment: €24 million with ERDF: €13.5 million).

EnR'Stock® de Petite Place (Quadran) to be operational in 2015, this will be Guadeloupe's first nationally connected wind power plant with a storage facility.

MAIA-Akuo Energy: a project to increase the capacity of renewable energy production and achieve a balanced energy production mix on the island Marie-Galante (total investment: €1.08 million with ERDF: €472 275).

ALBIOMA: by 2020, ALBIOMA aims to move to green energy production by converting its two electricity plants in Guadeloupe to 100% biomass.

Background:

The Outermost Regions are an integral part of the European Union but they have a very particular potential due to their specific geographic location. They are, among others, the entry gate of the European Union to a number of strategic places in the World: the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the North-Eastern Atlantic.

The special status of the Outermost Regions, defined by Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), formally acknowledges the geographical and economic constraints they face: remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, and economic dependence on a few products.

More information:

20th Conference of Presidents of the EU's Outermost Regions (ORs)

Regional policy and the Outermost Regions

The Outermost regions of the European Union: towards a partnership for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth

Operational Programmes 2014-2020

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