The nine outermost regions of the EU, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal) and the Canary Islands (Spain), are EU regions. located in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, Caribbean basin and South America.
The strategy puts people first by proposing concrete measures to improve the living conditions of the five million people in these regions: the goal is to support ecological and digital transitions and take advantage of their unique assets, such as “a young population in many regions.” regions, large maritime areas, unique biodiversity and research potential. The Commission will also provide tailor-made support to strengthen dialogue with the outermost regions.
Valdis Dombrovskisexecutive vice president of an economy that works for people, said: “Our outermost regions may be far from the European continent, but they are very important to the EU, due to the presence of a young population, a unique biodiversity and rich sources of renewable energy. These regions are also facing serious problems, such as high unemployment and low economic output, and have also been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We need to help them reach their full potential, with the EU institutions working closely with each region and Member State concerned to develop specific development strategies for recovery and growth. This strategy emphasizes the social aspect, the improvement of living conditions and the fight against poverty; it will also support the ecological and digital transitions of these regions where the problem of high food and energy prices has been exacerbated by Russian aggression in Ukraine. It will create new opportunities through dedicated funding and tailor-made support for each of these valuable EU regions to help them build on their unique strengths.»
Eliza FerreiraCohesion and Reform Commissioner, added: “The Commission is fully committed to supporting the economic and social development of the outermost regions, which are important assets for the EU as a whole. With this new strategy, we want to put people first: closing the quality of life gap between the outermost regions and the rest of the EU, so that all people in these regions have adequate housing and adequate access to water, education, training, health care and transport. the outermost regions, will provide specific opportunities for these regions in all EU policies and provide tailor-made support. “
Unlock the potential of the outermost regions
The nine outermost regions have unique assets: a young population, a rich biodiversity, a strategic location for space and astrophysical activities, vast maritime economic zones and a position as the EU’s leading places in the world. The outermost regions also have considerable potential to pursue the development of key sectors such as the blue economy, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, space activities, research and ecotourism.
Several challenges to overcome
Due to their geographical location, remoteness, insularity, small size and vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events, the outermost regions are subject to very specific but permanent limitations, which make their development difficult. These regions also have the highest unemployment rates and the lowest GDP in the EU. The COVID-19 pandemic has further jeopardized its development.
In addition to the unprecedented funding already negotiated for the outermost regions under the 2021-2027 funds and programs, the Commission is creating, with the renewed strategy, specific opportunities in many areas of EU action. . These include the release of a series of calls for specific projects intended exclusively for the outermost regions, to help local youth design local projects, to support strategies for the blue economy, as well as innovation, research and biodiversity at the regional level.
In addition, to help the outermost regions take advantage of these opportunities and implement their own regional development strategies, the Commission will offer custom advice tools.
The renewed strategy for the outermost regions will be built around five pillars:
- putting citizens firstimproving the living conditions of the population of the outermost regions, ensuring the quality of life, combating poverty and providing new opportunities for young people;
- take advantage of the unique strengths of each regionsuch as biodiversity, the blue economy or research potential;
- to support a sustainable, environmentally friendly and climate-neutral economic transformationbased on ecological and digital transitions;
- strengthen regional cooperation in the outermost regions with neighboring countries and territories;
- strengthen partnerships and dialogue with the outermost regions through, inter alia, specific support for administrative capacities and awareness-raising measures aimed at strengthening their participation in EU programs.
The General Affairs Council is expected to adopt the Council’s conclusions on the strategy on 21 June.
The outermost regions enjoy a special status under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 349), which provides for specific support measures, including the proper application of EU law and the conditions for access to EU programs. the EU.
The communication adopted today demonstrates the Commission’s unwavering commitment to these regions, which translates into site-based approaches and specific support, in accordance with the Treaty.