The Commission’s renewed Strategy for the EU’s outermost regions puts people first and unlocks their potential

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


The Commission adopted today a renewed Strategy for the most remote parts of the EU, the so-called outermost regions, aiming to unlock their potential through appropriate investment and reforms.

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

The Strategy puts people first by proposing concrete measures to improve the living conditions of their five million inhabitants: supporting the green and digital transitions and building on their unique assets, such as young population in many regions, extensive maritime zones, unique biodiversity and research potential. The Commission will also provide tailor-made support to strengthen the dialogue with the outermost regions.

Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “Our outermost regions may be distant from the European mainland, but they are very important for the EU, with their young populations, unique biodiversity and rich renewable energy sources. These regions also face serious problems such as high unemployment and low economic output and were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic too. We need to support them to unlock more of their potential, with EU institutions working in close partnership with each region and Member State concerned to develop specific development strategies for recovery and growth. This Strategy focuses on the social aspect, by improving living conditions and tackling poverty; it will also support these regions’ green and digital transitions as they cope with high food and energy prices, worsened by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. It will create new opportunities with dedicated funding and tailored support for each of these valuable EU regions to help them build on their unique assets.”

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, added: “The Commission is fully committed to supporting the economic and social development of the outermost regions, which are important assets for the EU as a whole. With this new Strategy, we want to put people first: to bridge the gap in quality of life between the outermost regions and the rest of the EU, so that everybody in these regions has adequate housing, water, access to education, training, healthcare and transport. The Strategy will strengthen the dialogue with the outermost regions, develop dedicated opportunities for them across EU policies, and provide tailored support.”

Unlocking the potential of the outermost regions

The nine outermost regions have unique assets: a young population, rich biodiversity, a strategic location for space and astrophysics activities, extensive maritime economic zones, and a position as EU outposts around the world. The outermost regions also have great potential to further develop key sectors such as the blue economy, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, space activities, research or eco-tourism.

Several challenges to be addressed

Due to their geographic location, remoteness, insularity, small size, vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events, the outermost regions face very specific but permanent constraints to their development. These regions also harbour the EU’s highest unemployment rates and lowest GDP. The COVID-19 pandemic has put their development further at risk.

In addition to the unprecedented funding for the outermost Regions already negotiated in the 2021-2027 funds and programmes, the Commission is creating with the Renewed Strategy dedicated opportunities in many EU policy areas. These include the launch of a series of dedicated calls for projects exclusively for the outermost regions for example, to support local young people in developing local projects, to support blue economy strategies, regional innovation, research and biodiversity.

Moreover, to help the outermost regions seize these opportunities and implement their own regional development strategies, the Commission will provide tailored advisory support tools.

The renewed Strategy for the outermost regions will focus on five pillars:

  • Putting people first – improving living conditions for people in the outermost regions, ensuring people’s quality of life, tackling poverty, and developing opportunities for the youth.
  • Building on each regions’ unique assets such as biodiversity, blue economy or research potential.
  • Supporting a sustainable, environmentally friendly and climate-neutral economic transformation grounded on the green and digital transition.
  • Strengthening outermost regions’ regional cooperation with neighbouring countries and territories.
  • Strengthen partnership and dialogue with the outermost regions via, among others, dedicated administrative capacity support and awareness raising measures to step up their participation in EU programmes.

Next Steps

The General Affairs Council is expected to adopt Council conclusions on the Strategy on 21 June.  

Background 

The outermost regions have a special status under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (article 349) that provides for specific measures to support them, including the tailored application of EU law and access to EU programmes.

The Communication adopted today reflects the Commission’s unwavering commitment towards these regions through place-based approaches and dedicated support in line with the Treaty.

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