The European Union has 9 'outermost regions':
They are an integral part of the European Union and must apply its laws, except where they are subject to specific rules.
An asset to Europe
The outermost regions face the following difficulties in terms of sustainable and harmonious development:
EU policy therefore focuses on improving accessibility, increasing competitiveness and strengthening regional integration.
However, in the age of globalisation and research to improve competitiveness in Europe, the EU also needs to help develop those growth sectors where these regions have potential for specialisation and a strong comparative advantage.
The outermost regions also have certain advantages, being:
The EU has the world's largest maritime territory, with an exclusive economic zone of 25m km². The outermost regions help legitimise the EU's policy of sustainable co-development of the oceans in 3 areas in particular:
Located on shipping routes or straits, the outermost regions occupy an important position for trade and play a role in monitoring coastal waters (to combat illegal fishing, piracy or drug trafficking) and in improving transport security (e.g. oil transport in the Caribbean). They have abundant and relatively well-preserved fishery resources and rich biodiversity. Finally they are an ideal location for research into seabed mining and biotechnologies, particularly those exploiting specific marine resources (e.g. deep-sea hydrothermal springs, tropical ecosystems).
In its 2008 communication 'The Outermost Regions: an asset for Europe', the Commission proposed the following maritime policy measures:
Links to related policies