Commission launches debate on relations with Overseas Countries and Territories

The Commission, on the 25th June 2008, tabled a Green Paper on the future relation with Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT), aimed at launching a broad debate on the EU-OCT relations. Following the public consultation, the Commission will propose a new partnership that takes better account of the special characteristics and present economic situation in the 21 islands.

Due to their special relations with Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the UK, OCTs are closely associated with the EU. For historic reasons, the current relationship was very much modelled on the relationship with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP). Such an agreement does not correspond to the specific social, economic and environmental challenges faced by OCTs today.
Louis Michel, Commissioner responsible for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said "The Overseas Countries and Territories are a real asset for Europe. We must recognise that a relationship that is based on classic development cooperation is out of date in today's globalised world. That's why it's so important to modernise OCT-EU relations to ensure we can best respond to a new reality, to globalisation and international trade liberalisation."
The Green paper is intended to launch a broad discussion on the opportunity of replacing the current agreement with an innovative partnership for the OCTs. Any future partnership should be tailored to their specific status, needs, challenges and potential whilst also recognising the close link, mutual interest and solidarity between the OCTs and the EU. Any future partnership should fully or partly replace the current one when the present Overseas Association Decision expires on 31 December 2013.
The Commission will hold a online consultation covering these issues from 1 July to the 17 October 2008.

What are the Overseas Countries and Territories?

The countries and territories concerned are listed exhaustively in Annex II to the EC Treaty. In total, 21 OCTs are listed: Greenland, New Caledonia and Dependencies, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Wallis and Futuna Islands, Mayotte, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles (i.e. Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustacius, Sint Maarten), Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena and dependencies, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands and Bermuda. However, the arrangements for association have never been applied to Bermuda in accordance with the wishes of the Government of Bermuda.