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Overseas countries and territories (OCTs)

Articles  198-204 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognise that 4 European Union countries (Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (1)) have special links with certain overseas countries and territories (OCTs).

Relations between the EU and these OCTs - all 25 of which are islands scattered around the world’s oceans - are based on EU law rather than on the constitutional law of the EU country in question. OCT nationals are EU citizens.

The 2013 overseas association decision (OAD) aims to modernise the relations between the EU and the OCTs and to take into account changing global trade patterns, as well as concerns such as climate change and environmental protection. It seeks to go beyond development cooperation and work towards building a relationship based on mutual interests and shared values, and in pursuit of sustainable development.

While EU laws as such are not in force in the OCTs, the OAD lays down the detailed rules and procedures of the association.

Under the OAD, the EU provides financial support for the OCTs’ development strategies. OCTs receive funding through the European Development Fund and are eligible for programmes funded by the EU’s general budget.


(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.