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

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

A new approach to the existing relations between overseas countries and territories (OCTs) and the European Union could make the most of their potential for development. The Green Paper presents the basis for a mutually beneficial strategy, different from the classic development cooperation approach.


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].


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.


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).

See also

For further information, please visit the website of the Directorate General for Development and cooperation - EuropeAid.

Last updated: 15.09.2008