Region's countries

The EU includes 22 overseas territories linked to five Member States (France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain and Portugal).

Nine of them are classified as Outermost Regions (ORs) and form an integral part of the EU. They comprise: three French overseas departments (Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guyana) and one French overseas community in the Caribbean (Saint-Martin); the French overseas departments of Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean; two Portuguese autonomous regions (Madeira and the Azores) and one Spanish autonomous community (the Canary Islands) in the Atlantic.

The remaining 13 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) enjoy a special ‘associate’ status and are linked to Denmark, France, and the Netherlands. These territories are constitutionally linked to the parent Member State, but are not part of the single market and must comply with the obligations on trade imposed on third countries. Council Decision (EU) 2021/1764 and Council Decision 2013/755/EU detail EU’s association relations with OCTs for the 2021-2027 and 2014-2020 periods respectively.

Caribean and Atlantic

Indian Ocean


map source: ETC/CCA 2018

Policy framework

1.    Transnational cooperation programme

For the programming period 2021-2027, the specificities of the Outermost regions are recognised through a specific strand of Interreg Programme (Strand D), supporting cooperation with neighbouring countries and territories. Interreg VI-D concerns the following geographical areas: Amazonia, Caribbean, Madeira-Azores-Canary Islands (MAC), Indian Ocean, Mozambique Channel. For 2014-2020, ORs in the Caribbean and Indian Oceans were involved in three INTERREG transnational cooperation programmes, described below

The Caribbean Area cooperation Programme 2014-2020 involved Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Saint Martin, and around 40 third countries and OCTs in the Caribbean basin. It was run in partnership with the three regional economic organizations, i.e. the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The programme was structured in two components: (1) cross-border cooperation between Guadeloupe, Martinique and the OECS countries, and (2) transnational cooperation involving Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Saint Martin and the other participating countries and territories. It has 6 priority areas aiming at:

  • Increasing the competitiveness of Caribbean enterprises;
  • Increasing natural hazard response capacity;
  • Protecting the cultural and natural environment;
  • Responding to shared health issues at Caribbean level;
  • Supporting the development of renewable energies;
  • Strengthening human capital.

Priority 2 aimed at improving knowledge of natural hazards and creating shared risk management systems, especially by developing shared observation tools and a geographic information system suitable for crisis management.

The Indian Ocean Area cooperation Programme 2014-2020 fostered cooperation between Réunion and Mayotte (France) and 12 third countries in the southern Indian Ocean (Union of the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Australia), as well as the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. The programme was built on:

  • The cross-border cooperation between Réunion and Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles as members of the Indian Ocean Commission, and
  • A broader transnational cooperation between Réunion, Mayotte and the other participating countries. The programme has five strategic priorities, two of which are climate change-related.

Priority 1 aimed at creating a research and innovation centre, focusing on pharmacopoeia, biotechnology, energy and climate change. Priority 3 seeked to develop capacities for climate change adaptation and risk prevention and management, by strengthening regional civil protection measures; cooperation on epidemiological and infectious risks; and prevention of risks associated with marine activities.

The AMAZONIA cooperation Programme 2014-2020 promoted cross-border and transnational cooperation among French Guiana, Suriname and the states of Amapá and Amazonas in Brazil. The programme made no reference to adaptation and risk management in its priority areas. Priority 2 generally dealt with environmental conservation and natural resource management. Special emphasis was placed on protecting and enhancing local biodiversity and natural and cultural heritage through joint preservation actions.

2.     International conventions and other cooperation initiatives

In the context of CARICOM Community, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre was established and represents a reference point for research on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies in the region. The centre opened in 2005 in order to coordinate the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. The centre provides information for decision makers (it is the official repository and clearinghouse for regional climate change data. It develops projects on climate change mitigation and adaptation, organises training courses, consultancy and joint venture services.  The centre provides climate change-related policy advice to the CARICOM Member States and to the UK Caribbean Overseas Territories. The centre is an Accredited Regional Implementing Entity (RIE) to the UNFCCC Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Examples of projects funded in the 2014–2020 period.

The publicationInterreg programmes in the Outermost regions 2014-2020” shows how INTERREG programmes contributed to the regional development of outermost regions and a closer integration with their neighbours.

The CARIBE-COAST project (Caribbean network for coastal risks related with climate change, 2018-2022) aims to pool, co-construct and disseminate monitoring and coastal risk prevention approaches and adaptation to climate change. The three goals of the project are: to create a hydrodynamic modelling catalogue for the simulation of current and future hazards; to develop existing observatories and share good practices of monitoring around a common protocol, and to provide decision support tools for the prevention of natural coastal risks.

The Ready Together Project (2019-2022) strengthens regional cooperation, through enhanced coordination, pooling of resources and collective promotion of risk culture to address the major challenges of natural hazards and climate change in the Caribbean. The project promotes a comprehensive approach, inclusive and participative, to ensure an effective response to the needs of the most vulnerable population exposed to natural hazards and the effects of climate change.

As for the Indian Ocean area, the operational programme 2007-2013 provided funding to the regional civil protection mechanism under priority Axis 1 ‘Sustainable development’. In particular, it supported the French Red Cross in Reunion to develop a Regional Cooperation Programme to manage disaster risk in the South-Western Indian Ocean as well as the subsequent action plan.

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