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The outermost regions: an asset for Europe

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The outermost regions: an asset for Europe

The outermost regions (OR) have specific assets which could benefit the development of the European Union (EU) as a whole. This potential should be capitalised on through existing Community programmes and the socio-economic development of the OR should be based on a more specific strategic approach.


Communication from the Commission of 17 October 2008 - The outermost regions: an asset for Europe [COM(2008) 642 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The European strategy for the outermost regions (OR) is based on priorities which respond to their specific development difficulties, in terms of accessibility, competitiveness and regional integration. This strategy should be expanded to make more of the competitiveness and sustainable development potential of these regions.

Indeed, the OR have specific assets. Their geographical location makes them players in the European Union’s (EU) external policy, specifically with regard to the implementation at regional level of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), strategies relating to the fight against illegal trafficking and police cooperation. In addition, their geographical characteristics and climate make them suitable territories for scientific research and the study of adaptation to climate change, renewable energies and the preservation of biodiversity and the marine environment.

An expanded strategy should enable the OR to take advantage of the investment available through the 2007-2013 Community funds and programmes: ERDF, ESF, EAFRD, EFF and POSEI.

The Commission will also continue its support for the JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro-to-Medium Enterprises) initiative for businesses and the JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) initiative for urban areas. The Commission promotes the involvement of the OR in the regions for economic change initiative, as well as their participation in programmes related to mobility, lifelong learning and cooperation between education systems.

Community policies should support high added value sectors where the OR have the potential for specialisation and a strong comparative edge in their respective regional blocs. Certain priority sectors have been identified in order to face new challenges through increasing knowledge and developing existing partnerships. They relate to:

  • demographic trends and migratory flows, in order to better analyse their impact on the socio-economic development of the OR;
  • climate change and the study of its effects on coastal areas and the conservation of ecosystems;
  • maritime policy, in order to increase knowledge of the maritime environment, to adapt the European integrated maritime policy to regional strategies and to develop intra-regional links;
  • agriculture, with a view to improving the management of agri-environmental problems, encouraging start-ups by young farmers and promoting regional production.

The existing dialogue and partnership between the EU, Member States and the OR should remain an essential part of the renewed strategy. Thus, when adopting new legislation and European policies, the impact on these regions should be taken into account. A forum for “outermost Europe” organised together with the Member States should contribute towards achieving this objective.


This communication follows the consultation launched in 2007 on the future of relations between the EU and its outermost regions. It aims to expand the analysis of the complementary strategic objectives adopted in 2007 in order to take better account of the challenges of the global economic situation and environmental problems.

See also

For further information, please visit the website of the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional Policy.

Last updated: 16.02.2009