International Cooperation and Development

Overseas Countries and Territories

The EU is associated to 13 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) - The OCTs are located in the Atlantic, Antarctic, Arctic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific regions.

These are all islands, of which 1 have no permanent population. These islands are small in either size or population, or both but have constitutional relationships with Denmark, France and the Netherlands. This means that the OCTs are of high political importance both for these Member countries and the EU.

They play an important role as outposts of the EU in the areas where they are located, but do not, however, form part of the EU territory nor of the EU single market.

The purpose of this association is "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".

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 3 Member countries with which they maintain special links.

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 countries.

Our cooperation in the OCTs is channelled through the 11th European Development Programme both at territorial and regional level.  

Regional cooperation is distributed in the following areas:

  • Caribbean regional programme - Sustainable energy and marine biodiversity – (€40 million)
  • Indian Ocean regional programme - Observation, management, conservation of terrestrial and marine ecosystem (€4 million)
  • Pacific regional programme - Environment and sustainable management of natural resources (€36 million)
  • Thematic programme (all OCTs) - Sustainable use of natural resources (€16-18 million)