Outermost regions of the EU

15-05-2020

The European Union's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, that can severely hamper their development. Specific support mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission outlining measures aimed at assisting outermost regions in communications published in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Nevertheless, with the outermost regions continuing to face numerous challenges in areas such as mobility, unemployment and climate change, discussions were launched on the formulation of a new strategy, which was published in October 2017. Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, the 2017 communication offers a new approach to supporting the outermost regions' development by optimising their assets, exploiting new opportunities for growth and job creation, and focusing more on their specific circumstances and needs. To this end, the communication outlines a series of concrete and coordinated actions to be taken at European Union (EU) and national level, as well as by the outermost regions, and calls for stronger partnership between outermost regions, Member States and the EU. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a broad package of proposals for the 2021-2027 period, providing the legislative framework needed to guide this strategy beyond 2020. Taking account of the specific needs of the outermost regions in a total of 21 proposals, the Commission has ensured the continuation of many of the special measures supporting their development. However, these proposals have met with a mixed response on the part of the outermost regions, particularly when it comes to the proposed reductions in co-financing rates and financial resources. Published in March 2020, the European Commission report on the implementation of the 2017 communication considers that it has delivered concrete results and that the process of implementing the communication is going in the right direction. Yet with development continuing to lag behind in the outermost regions, it is clear that challenges persist. It remains to be seen whether the 2017 strategy and the special measures put forward for the post-2020 period will together be sufficient to close the inequalities gap with the rest of the EU, and achieve the ambitious new goals of the Green Deal. This is a revised and updated version of a briefing from January 2018.

The European Union's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, that can severely hamper their development. Specific support mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission outlining measures aimed at assisting outermost regions in communications published in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Nevertheless, with the outermost regions continuing to face numerous challenges in areas such as mobility, unemployment and climate change, discussions were launched on the formulation of a new strategy, which was published in October 2017. Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, the 2017 communication offers a new approach to supporting the outermost regions' development by optimising their assets, exploiting new opportunities for growth and job creation, and focusing more on their specific circumstances and needs. To this end, the communication outlines a series of concrete and coordinated actions to be taken at European Union (EU) and national level, as well as by the outermost regions, and calls for stronger partnership between outermost regions, Member States and the EU. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a broad package of proposals for the 2021-2027 period, providing the legislative framework needed to guide this strategy beyond 2020. Taking account of the specific needs of the outermost regions in a total of 21 proposals, the Commission has ensured the continuation of many of the special measures supporting their development. However, these proposals have met with a mixed response on the part of the outermost regions, particularly when it comes to the proposed reductions in co-financing rates and financial resources. Published in March 2020, the European Commission report on the implementation of the 2017 communication considers that it has delivered concrete results and that the process of implementing the communication is going in the right direction. Yet with development continuing to lag behind in the outermost regions, it is clear that challenges persist. It remains to be seen whether the 2017 strategy and the special measures put forward for the post-2020 period will together be sufficient to close the inequalities gap with the rest of the EU, and achieve the ambitious new goals of the Green Deal. This is a revised and updated version of a briefing from January 2018.