The EU’s outermost regions: strengthened partnership bears fruit

European Union Brussels

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today the European Commission adopted a report on progress made under the 2017 Strategic Partnership with the EU’s outermost regions, which strengthened the cooperation between the EU outermost regions, the respective Member States and the European Commission. The report shows that this strengthened partnership is bearing fruit: building on the outermost regions’ strongest assets, regional and national actions are now up and running to foster growth in areas such as agriculture, the blue economy, biodiversity and circular economy, energy, research and innovation, employment, education and training, digital accessibility, transport and cooperation with neighbours.

European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “Whether near or far, the European Union leaves no one behind. This is what today’s report shows: the European Commission has fully delivered on its commitment to taking into account the specificities of the outermost regions across EU policies. I am most pleased that these regions are now capitalising on their unique assets, as illustrated in today’s report. We are on the right track to turn our strategic partnership into positive change and a better future for our outermost regions.”

Taking into account progress made, the report suggests that further efforts at all levels are required to address climate change, protect biodiversity, introduce the circular economy and shift to renewable energy in the outermost regions. Key sectors such as the blue economy also need continuous investment.

This is why, listening to the voice of the outermost regions, the Commission has created a number of opportunities in the context of EU policies and funding instruments. It has adapted EU legislation, policies and tools to match outermost regions’ needs and interests, while providing specific support to these regions. These measures include:

  • Taking into account regions’ specificities in policy-making, from state aid to taxation, from the European Semester to the Green Deal or the circular economy action plan;
  • Reflecting their specificities in twenty-one proposals for 2021-2027 EU programmes and funds, in a wide range of sectors including cohesion, agriculture, fisheries, research, environment, transport and digital connectivity;
  • Creating tailored opportunities under existing initiatives such as Horizon 2020 and LIFE;
  • Setting up dedicated taskforces and reaching out to the citizens of these regions through citizens’ dialogues.

The European Commission is committed to working with the nine regions to bring the strategic partnership forward. It calls upon the European Parliament and the Council to ensure swift adoption of the 2021-2027 legal and policy framework to provide outermost regions with tailor-made access and specific supporting conditions as soon as possible.

Background

The nine outermost regions are Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Reunion Island and Saint-Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal) and the Canary Islands (Spain). They are located in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, in the Caribbean basin and in Latin America.

The EU outermost regions face permanent constraints linked to their remoteness, small size, vulnerability to climate change and insularity, which put a brake on their growth and development. It is in this context that the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 349 TFEU), provides for specific measures to support the outermost regions, including tailor-made conditions for the application of EU law in these regions and for access to EU programmes.

Scattered across the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean basin, Latin America and the Indian Ocean, the outermost regions provide the EU with unique assets: rich biodiversity, strategic location for space and astrophysics activities, extensive maritime economic zones, and proximity to other continents. In October 2017, the European Commission adopted a Communication for a renewed strategic partnership with the EU outermost regions. The Commission undertook to enshrine their interests and concerns in policy-making and in EU funds programmes, to provide tailor made support and to foster dialogue between all relevant actors.

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