OCT-EU association

OCT-EU association

The OCTs are located in the Atlantic, Antarctic, Arctic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific regions. Their relation with the EU dates back to the EU-OCT association at the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. They are not sovereign countries but depend to varying degrees on the four Member States with which they maintain special links. The OCTs have wide ranging autonomy, covering areas such as economic affairs, employment market, public health, home affairs and customs, while defence and foreign affairs usually remain within the remit of the Member States.


The Overseas Countries and Territories (as per Annex II of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU):

- Anguilla (UK)
- Aruba (NL)      
- Bermuda (UK)
- Bonaire (NL)
- British Antarctic Territory (UK)*
- British Indian Ocean Territory (UK)*
- British Virgin Islands (UK)
- Cayman Islands (UK)
- Curação (NL)
- Falkland Islands (UK)
- French Polynesia (FR)
- French Southern -and Antarctic Territories (FR)*
- Greenland (DK)
 - Montserrat (UK)
- New Caledonia and Dependencies (FR)
- Pitcairn (UK)
- Saba (NL)
- Saint Barthelemy (FR)
- Sint Eustatius (NL)
- Sint Maarten (NL)
- South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (UK)*
- Saint Helena, Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha (UK)
- St. Pierre and Miquelon (FR)
- Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
- Wallis and Futuna Islands (FR)

(*) OCTs without a permanent local population.



Legal basis of the EU cooperation with the OCTs

The OCT-EU Association is based on Articles 198 to 204 of Part IV of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU): "The purpose of association shall be to promote the economic and social development of the countries


and territories and to establish close economic relations between them and the Union as a whole. In accordance with the principles set out in the preamble to this Treaty, association shall serve primarily to further the interests and prosperity of the inhabitants of these countries and territories in order to lead them to the economic, social and cultural development to which they aspire."


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 ('Overseas Association Decision' (OAD) which was adopted on 25 November 2013. This Decision lays down a new articulated and consolidated set of rules and procedures governing the political, commercial and financial relations between the EU and the OCTs. The Overseas Association Decision has no end date and includes provisions on its continuous updating, such as when an OCT leaves the association, becomes independent, or becomes an Outermost Region or vice-versa. The Overseas Association Decision reflects a paradigm shift away from the focus on poverty reduction to a reciprocal relation focused on cooperation on mutual interests, and places special emphasis on priorities which are relevant for the OCTs, such as: the enhancement of their competitiveness; the strengthening of their resilience and reduction of their vulnerability; and promotion of the cooperation between OCTs and their regional, European and international partners.


Furthermore, there is a specific Council Decision governing EU relations with Greenland in areas other than fisheries (Council Decision 2014/137/EU of 14 March 2014 on relations between the European Union on the one hand, and Greenland and the Kingdom of Denmark on the other). The indicative amount allocated to the support of Greenland's education sector for the period 2014-2020 is EUR 217.8 million.The 'Greenland Decision' does not substitute but is complementary to the Overseas Association Decision.

The OCT-EU Association provides the OCTs with the possibility to benefit from EU financial support in the framework of the European Development Fund (EDF) and/or of the EU general budget.

Therefore, sources of funding for the OCTs are the following:

  • Resources allocated for the OCTs under the EDF;
  • As a matter of principle and under certain conditions, thematic Union programmes and instruments provided for in the Union's general budget
  • Funds managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) under its own resources, and the resources allocated to the EDF Investment Facility.

OCT-EU cooperation 

The 11th European Development Fund (2014-2020) is the main source of EU financial support to the OCTs and is implemented through the elaboration of programming documents signed by the European Commission and the territorial authorities. 



The Overseas Association Decision defines the following distribution of the overall amount of EUR 364.5 million for the OCTs under the 11th EDF:

  • EUR 229.5 million for territorial (bilateral) allocations;
  • EUR 100 million for regional cooperation and integration;
  • EUR 21.5 million set aside in Envelope B – a reserve for humanitarian and emergency assistance, or assistance for fluctuations in export earnings;
  • EUR 5 million to finance interest subsidies and technical assistance through the OCT Investment Facility of the EIB;
  • EUR 8.5 million for studies and technical assistance. Article 3 of Annex II of the OAD stipulates that "the allocation of amount A shall take into account the size of the population, the level of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the level of previous EDF allocations and constraints due to the geographical isolation of OCTs as mentioned in Article 9 of this Decision. Any allocation shall be such as to allow its effective use. It should be decided in conformity with the principle of subsidiarity".​

The table hereunder shows the breakdown of the indicative territorial allocation for each eligible OCT.


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

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






















New Caledonia



French Polynesia



Wallis et Futuna



Saint-Pierre et Miquelon












Turks et Caicos






Falkland Islands



Saint Helena, Ascencion and Tristan da Cunha






Reserve B



EIB Investement Facility









* Precise amount defined in individual Financing Decisions.


Governance of the OCT-EU association

Regular policy and political dialogue between the Union and the OCTs is one of the core elements of the Association (Article 14 OAD). Formally, the dialogue takes place in different forms – the annual OCT-EU Forum, the trilateral meetings, the tripartite meetings and the working parties.

The OCT-EU Forum is the high-level instance of political dialogue that brings together authorities from the OCTs, representatives of the  Member States to which they are linked, the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, representatives of the EIB, and representatives of the Outermost Regions. It takes place annually and is chaired by the European Commission. Commissioner Mimica delivered a keynote address at the occasion of the 16th Overseas Countries and Territories - European Union on 23 February 2018 in Brussels.


16th OCT-EU Forum


The trilateral meetings, which take place on annual basis prior to the OCT-EU Forum, bring together individual OCTs, the Member States to which they are linked and the European Commission. The trilateral meetings focus on the programming and the implementation of the regional and the territorial allocations financed under the EDF.

The Commission (DG DEVCO) also chairs the tripartite meetings with the OCTs and the Member States to which they are linked. As per the Overseas Association Decision, these meetings take place at least four times per year and this regularity ensures continuous, year-round dialogue on issues of mutual interest.

Finally, the Commission also chairs the working parties dedicated to specific topics (such as financial services, climate/environment, trade or regional integration), which act in an advisory capacity and meet on a needs basis.