Category Archives: Overseas countries and territories (OCT)

The twenty-one overseas countries and Territories (OCTs) depend constitutionally on four of the European Union (EU) Member States: Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. OCT nationals are European citizens.
However, these countries do not form part of EU territory. Accordingly, they are not directly subject to EU law, but they benefit from associate status conferred on them by the Treaty of Lisbon. The aim of this association is principally to contribute to their economic and social development.

Overseas countries and territories : towards a new partnership

Overseas countries and territories : towards a new partnership

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Overseas countries and territories : towards a new partnership

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > Overseas countries and territories (OCT)

Overseas countries and territories (OCTs): towards a new partnership

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 6 November 2009 – Elements for a new partnership between the EU and the overseas countries and territories (OCTs) [COM(2009) 623 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Relations between the European Union (EU) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) should evolve into a reciprocal partnership, founded on mutual interests. These relations are currently defined by the framework for association established by Decision 2001/822/EC.

This Communication presents a new approach aimed at supporting the sustainable development of OCTs by adapting the cooperation principles and priorities to the specificities of these countries and territories. In addition, if their level of development is generally higher than that of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, certain OCTs shall continue to benefit from European aid to fight against poverty.

Supporting sustainable development

The future partnership, based on Article 198 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, should prioritise three axes of cooperation:

  • the competitiveness of OCTs in key areas such as education and training, innovation, the small and medium-sized enterprises sector, and good political and economic governance;
  • reducing their vulnerability to economic shocks, environmental issues, energy dependency and natural disasters;
  • regional integration through increasing intra-regional economic exchanges, carrying out cooperation projects (specifically for cross-border environmental protection) and increasing cultural exchanges.

Cooperation should be tailored to the situation of each partner.

European financial and technical assistance shall be improved, specifically by coordinating financial instruments with those for the Outermost Regions, ACP states or other countries neighbouring the OCTs.

OCTs may participate in certain Community programmes (such as the 7th Research Framework Programme). The programmes must therefore be adapted to the new priorities.

Cooperation priorities

The Commission has identified a set of areas for cooperation which should enable the potential of OCTs to be developed. They involve:

  • establishing centres of excellence and expertise to manage the advantages and difficulties of each territory;
  • upgrading OCT legislation to EU rules and standards, specifically to encourage the trade of goods and services (for example by bringing customs procedures and sanitary and phytosanitary standards closer together) and compliance with the principles of transparency on tax;
  • developing environmental cooperation to support the transition of OCTs to a greener economy, and helping them adapt to climate change, biodiversity protection, the promotion of renewable energies and disaster risk reduction;
  • improving the OCTs’ accessibility by developing information and communication technologies and transport infrastructures;
  • increasing trade and economic cooperation in terms of international trade liberalisation, which entails reciprocal trade relationships and specific rules of origin.

Background

The Communication follows the Green Paper on future relations between the EU and OCTs. The conclusions of the Green Paper support the revision of the existing framework for association.

Overseas countries and territories

Overseas countries and territories

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Overseas countries and territories

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > Overseas countries and territories (OCT)

Overseas countries and territories (OCT)

The twenty-one overseas countries and Territories (OCTs) depend constitutionally on four of the European Union (EU) Member States: Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. OCT nationals are European citizens.
However, these countries do not form part of EU territory. Accordingly, they are not directly subject to EU law, but they benefit from associate status conferred on them by the Treaty of Lisbon. The aim of this association is principally to contribute to their economic and social development.

  • Overseas countries and territories (OCTs): towards a new partnership
  • Future relations between the EU and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
  • Association of the OCTs with the European Community
  • Budgetisation of the European Development Fund
  • European Development Fund (EDF)

Association of the OCTs with the European Community

Association of the OCTs with the European Community

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Association of the OCTs with the European Community

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > Overseas countries and territories (OCT)

Association of the OCTs with the European Community

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2001/822/EC of 27 November 2001 on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Community (“Overseas Association Decision”) [See amending acts].

Summary

The OCT association arrangements are designed to promote the economic and social development of the OCTs more effectively and to develop economic relations between the OCTs and the EC as a whole.

Cooperation focuses in particular on three issues:

  • the reduction, prevention and eventual eradication of poverty;
  • sustainable development;
  • the gradual integration of the OCTs into the regional and world economies.

These association arrangements are also based on the principles of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, which are common to the Member States and to the associated OCTs.

AREAS OF COOPERATION

Economic and trade cooperation: trade arrangements

The OCTs benefit from a very advantageous trade system. Products originating in the OCTs and imported into the EC are not subject to import duties or quantitative restrictions. These arrangements are non-reciprocal, in other words, under certain conditions, products originating in the EC may be subject to import duties or charges established by the OCTs. Nonetheless, the system applied to the EC may not be any less favourable than that applied to Non-EU Member Countries in accordance with the most-favoured-nation principle by the OCTs unless another OCT or developing country is involved. Similarly, the OCTs may not discriminate between members of the European Union (EU).

The association arrangements lay down favourable rules of origin and specific provisions permitting cumulation of origin with materials originating in the EC or in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP).

There is also a procedure for the trans-shipment of goods which, under certain conditions, enables products not originating in the OCTs but imported there from Non-EU Member Countries and on which import duties or charges have been paid in the OCTs to be imported into the EC in line with the beneficial arrangements for OCTs. This procedure does not apply to agricultural products or goods resulting from the processing of agricultural products, with one exception.

Development finance corporation

Cooperation in this area is designed in particular to contribute to the development of the OCTs by supporting policies and strategies in productive sectors and in areas such as trade development, trade-related areas, human, social and environmental development, and cultural and social cooperation.

Regional cooperation and integration

Cooperation in this area involves operations between OCTs and between OCTs and other Non-EU Member Countries, such as ACP countries, and cooperation with the outermost regions. It is aimed at accelerating economic cooperation and development, promoting the free movement of persons, goods, services, labour and technology, liberalising trade and payments, and implementing sectoral reform policies at regional level. In addition, closer cooperation and greater integration should encourage the least-developed OCTs to participate in and benefit from regional markets.

IMPLEMENTATION

The association is based on the principle of a trilateral partnership between the Commission, the Member State to which the OCT is linked and the OCT itself. Two main instruments are responsible for ensuring effective cooperation:

  • an OCT-EC forum for dialogue (“OCT Forum”), which meets annually and is made up of the EC, all the OCTs and all the Member States to which the OCTs are linked;
  • an individualised partnership between the Commission, the Member State with which the OCT is linked and each of the OCTs represented by its authorities.

Like the ACP countries, the OCTs benefit from the European Development Fund (EDF), which is the main instrument for cooperation in financing the development of the OCTs and for regional cooperation involving them. A development and cooperation strategy is adopted by each OCT in the form of a Single Programming Document (SPD). The OCTs are responsible, first and foremost, for determining and implementing cooperation measures and the SPD is thus drawn up principally by the authorities of the OCTs. It is adopted jointly by the authorities of the OCTs and the Commission. Monitoring and evaluation are the responsibility of all the partners. Civil society is also an important actor in the cooperation field and the non-governmental actors identified in each OCT should be involved in the drawing up of the cooperation programmes.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES

Financial resources of the EDF

A total amount of EUR 175 million, of which EUR 20 million is set aside for the Investment Facility managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), was granted to the OCTs under the 9th EDF for the period 2000-2007. For the period 2008-2013, an amount of EUR 286 million is granted under the 10th EDF, of which EUR 30 million for financing the Investment Facility.

EIB Investment Facility and loans

The EDF manages the Investment Facility and loans from its own resources. The Investment Facility is designed to promote commercially viable businesses primarily in the private sector or those in the public sector that support development in the private sector.

Financial resources from the general EU budget

The OCTs benefit from the thematic programmes financed by the Development Cooperation Financing Instrument (DCFI) and from regeneration and reconstruction measures financed by the Stability Instrument and from humanitarian aid financed by the Humanitarian Aid Instrument.

In addition, all the horizontal Community programmes and, in particular, those in the field of education, training and youth, research, enterprise and the audiovisual sector are, in principle, open to the OCTs, subject to the rules and objectives of those programmes and to the arrangements applicable to the Member State to which a OCT is linked.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2001/822/EC

2.12.2001 – 31.12.2013

OJ L 314 of 30.11.2001

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2007/249/EC

26.4.2007

OJH L 109 of 26.4.20074

Future relations between the EU and Overseas Countries and Territories

Future relations between the EU and Overseas Countries and Territories

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Future relations between the EU and Overseas Countries and Territories

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > Overseas countries and territories (OCT)

Future relations between the EU and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)

Document or Iniciative

European Commission Green Paper of 25 June 2008 on future relations between the EU and the overseas countries and territories [COM(2008) 383 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The arrangements for association of the overseas countries and territories (OCTs) with the European Community (EC) were established by Council Decision 2001/822/EC, in accordance with Part IV of the European Community Treaty.

The Green Paper should serve as a basis for the development of future relations between the OCTs and the EU. It presents an assessment of the needs and economic, social and cultural development potential of the OCTs.

A new development strategy

The OCTs have specific characteristics in common. They are not part of the Community, however they are constitutionally linked to EU Member States. The majority of them are located in the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), but their level of development is higher than that of their neighbours. However, the micro-island character of their economies makes them dependent on importing goods and energy. These factors make them particularly vulnerable to international economic shocks.

By following a new approach, relations between the EU and OCTs could be better differentiated from Community development cooperation policy.

The implementation of a sustainable development strategy for OCTs could support their competitiveness, as well as stimulate economic and social exchanges on a regional and global level. The Green Paper underlines the specific importance of exchange between the OCTs, and between the OCTs and the ACP States.

A renewed partnership with the EU could have reciprocal institutional, economic, social and cultural advantages, as well as benefits in the fields of security and environmental protection. Cooperation could prove essential in tackling climate change and biodiversity protection.

Trade regimes

The OCTs and the EU have close economic relations. The OCT-EC trade regime consists of a non-reciprocal preferential trade regime, established in accordance with tariff conditions which are amongst the most generous that have been granted by the Community. However, in view of progressive global and regional trade liberalisation, a reform of the system proves necessary.

Furthermore, in order to maximise the potential of the preferential regime, the rules of origin and cumulation of origin should be modernised. The OCTs should also improve their ability to comply with Community export standards.

Context

Due to Decision 2001/822/EC expiring at the end of 2013, there will be a review of the OCT-EC association before this date. The Green Paper aims to open the debate on the modernisation of OCT-EC relations, the results of which will be taken into account as part of the review. Furthermore, the funding of cooperation must also be reviewed during the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework for the period 2013 to 2020 and on the budgetisation of the European Development Fund (EDF).