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EU outermost regions and the overseas countries and territories

Region's countries

The EU includes 34 overseas territories linked to six Member States (United Kingdom, 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: 3 French overseas departments (Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guyana) and 1 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 Portuguese autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores and the Spanish autonomous community of the Canary Islands, once joined into the Madeira-Açores-Canarias (MAC) transnational programme 2007–2013, are currently subsumed under the Atlantic Area programme.

The remaining 25 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) enjoy a special ‘associate’ status and are linked to Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. 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 2013/755/EU details EU’s association relations with OCTs.


Caribean and Atlantic

Indian Ocean



map source: ETC/CCA 2018

Policy framework

1.    Transnational cooperation programme

ORs in the Caribbean and Indian Oceans are involved in three INTERREG transnational cooperation programmes.

The Caribbean Area cooperation Programme 2014-2020 involves Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Saint Martin, and around 40 third countries and OCTs in the Caribbean basin. It is 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). In the context of CARICOM the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) was established as a reference point for research on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies in the region. The programme is 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 aims 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 fosters 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 is built on:

  1. The cross-border cooperation between Réunion and Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles as members of the Indian Ocean Commission, and
  2. 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 aims at creating a research and innovation centre, focusing on pharmacopoeia, biotechnology, energy and climate change. Priority 3 seeks 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 promotes cross-border and transnational cooperation among French Guiana, Suriname and the states of Amapá and Amazonas in Brazil. The programme makes no reference to adaptation and risk management in its priority areas. Priority 2 generally deals with environmental conservation and natural resource management. Special emphasis is placed on protecting and enhancing local biodiversity and natural and cultural heritage through joint preservation actions.


2.    International conventions and other cooperation initiatives

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre 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. It is the official repository and clearinghouse for regional climate change data. The clearinghouse is an online archive and information exchange system helping users to search, access, request and contribute digital documents, project reports and scholarly articles related to climate change in the Caribbean, and view climate projections by country. The centre provides climate change-related policy advice to the CARICOM Member States and to the UK Caribbean Overseas Territories. It is recognised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean.


Examples of projects

The Caribbean competition pole on natural and sea-related hazards project, funded under the programming period 2007-2013 aimed at strengthening disaster prevention and enhancing early warning systems in small island territories and tropical areas by creating a pole in Martinique to bring together Caribbean experts working on related issues. Other project funded in the same period still in the Caribbean area were operational in nature, and focused on the development of structural and non-structural measures for disaster risk management.

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.