Outermost regions, overseas countries and territories
There are 20 overseas countries and territories (OCTs) which are linked to Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the UK and are associated with the EU.
In addition there are outermost regions (OMR) of a three EU member states (France, Portugal, Spain) which are an integral part of the EU.
The non-profit international Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) mission is to work collectively through the promotion of common positions and partnerships for the sustainable development of OCTs by cooperation, capacity building and communication. In March 2011 an OCTA conference was held in Brussels on climate change adaptation.
The EU is gradually formulating a policy on Arctic issues to address EU interests and responsibilities, while recognising EU countries' legitimate interests and rights in the region.
The Communication ‘The European Union and the Arctic Region' (2008) established the first layer of an EU Arctic policy. The Council of the EU welcomed the Communication and issued Council Arctic Conclusions in December 2009.
EU policies in areas such as environment, climate change, energy, research, transport and fisheries have a direct bearing on the Arctic and contribute significantly to its protection. The EU Arctic policy is built around three main policy objectives:
- Protecting and preserving the Arctic in unison with its population;
- Promoting sustainable use of natural resources;
- Contributing to enhanced governance in the Arctic through implementation of relevant agreements, frameworks and arrangements, and their further development.
The EU is conscious of the need for international cooperation on Arctic issues, and recognises the important role of the Arctic Council.
Arctic Council Member States are Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America. In addition to the Member States, the Arctic Council has the category of Permanent Participants (Indigenous peoples'organizations) and observers (non-arctic states, inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations).
The Arctic has warmed rapidly during the last four decades. The magnitude of temperature increase in the Arctic is twice as large as the global increase. The effect of Arctic climate change will have profound local, regional and global implications. Various assessment reports on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation in the Arctic have been prepared under coordination by the Arctic Council and its working groups. This includes the ‘Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA)' Assessment that was formally delivered by AMAP to the 7th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Nuuk on 12 May 2011.
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. In 1979 Denmark granted home rule to Greenland and in 2008 Greenland voted to transfer more power from the Danish government to the local Greenlandic government. Greenland withdrew from the European Union in 1985, thereafter basing its relations with the EU on a special agreement.
In 2010 the Government of Greenland and the European Environment Agency signed an agreement aimed at improving bilateral cooperation in environmental monitoring and sharing environmental data and information.
The challenges and possible opportunities due to climate change and the need for adaptation to climate change is recognised by Greenland, e.g. in the document ‘Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands: Kingdom of Denmark, Strategy for the Arctic 2011– 2020.
European Neighbourhood Policy
The main objective of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is the mutual interest of the EU and its neighbours in promoting reform, the rule of law, stable democracies and prosperity – prosperity, security and stability - throughout the neighbourhood of the enlarged European Union. The ENP is a means of working jointly with EU neighbours:
- To promote prosperity in our neighbourhood by supporting our neighbours' economic reform processes and offering significant economic integration, and
- To advance freedom and democracy in our neighbourhood by deepening political cooperation, on the basis of shared values and common interests
- To promote security and stability by working with neighbours to address development, environment, non-proliferation and counter-terrorism issues – in line with the European Security Strategy
The ENP framework is covers 16 of the EU's closest neighbours. ENPI Mediterranean/South covers Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia. ENPI East covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia. ENPI funds some 40 projects and programmes in the South and a similar number in the East. Climate change adaptation is not explicitly included although environment is included.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) was assigned by European Commission to carry out a project for gradually extending the Shared Environment Information System (SEIS) principles to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) South and East neighbours and the Russian Federation.