REPORT Towards a stronger partnership with the EU outermost regions

20.7.2021 - (2020/2120(INI))

Committee on Regional Development
Rapporteur: Stéphane Bijoux

Procedure : 2020/2120(INI)
Document stages in plenary
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Towards a stronger partnership with the EU outermost regions


The European Parliament,

 having regard to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

 having regard to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, as adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015,

 having regard to the agreement adopted on 12 December 2015 in Paris at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) (‘the Paris Agreement’), in particular Article 7(2) and Article 11(2) thereof, which recognise the local, sub-national and regional dimensions of climate change and climate action,

 having regard to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5 °C, its fifth assessment report (AR5) and its synthesis report thereon, its special report on climate change and land, and its special report on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate,

 having regard to the agreement concluded on 15 April 2021 between the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States,

 having regard to the new multiannual financial framework (MFF) of the European Union for the period 2021-2027, approved by the European Parliament and the Council in December 2020,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 24 February 2021 entitled ‘Forging a climate-resilient Europe – the new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change’ (COM (2021)0082) and the related impact and vulnerability assessment for the outermost regions of the European Union,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 20 May 2020 entitled ‘EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: Bringing nature back into our lives’ (COM(2020)0380),

 having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank of 23 March 2020 on the implementation of the Commission communication on ‘A stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions’ (COM(2020)0104),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 11 December 2019 entitled ‘The European Green Deal’ (COM(2019)0640),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 24 October 2017 entitled ‘A stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions’ (COM(2017)0623),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 20 June 2012 entitled ‘The outermost regions of the European Union: towards a partnership for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2012)0287),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 17 October 2008 entitled ‘The outermost regions: an asset for Europe’ (COM(2008)0642),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 12 September 2007 entitled ‘Strategy for the Outermost Regions: Achievements and Future Prospects’ (COM(2007)0507),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 26 May 2004 entitled ‘A stronger partnership for the outermost regions’ (COM(2004)0343),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 5 March 2020 on the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 (COM(2020)0152),

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 23 October 2020 on the ‘EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030’,

 having regard to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity,

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 19 November 2019 on oceans and seas,

 having regard to the opinion of the European Committee of the Regions of 10 December 2020 on the European Commission report on the implementation of the renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions (2021/C 37/10),

 having regard to the declarations by the presidents of the outermost regions, in particular the declaration adopted at the 25th Conference of Presidents of the Outermost Regions of the European Union held in Mayotte on 26 and 27 November 2020,

 having regard to the Joint Declaration by the Presidents of the Outermost Regions of the European Union (CPOR), resulting from the mid-term meeting of 3 May 2021,

 having regard to its resolution of 17 April 2020 on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences[1],

 having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2020 on the European Green Deal[2],

 having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2018 on cohesion policy and the circular economy,

 having regard to its resolution of 28 November 2019 on the climate and environment emergency[3],

 having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2019 on climate change – a European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy in accordance with the Paris Agreement[4],

 having regard to the 2021 European Parliament study entitled ‘Cohesion Policy and Climate Change’,

 having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2017 on promoting cohesion and development in the outermost regions of the EU: implementation of Article 349 of the TFEU[5],

 having regard to its resolution of 27 April 2017 on the management of the fishing fleets in the outermost regions[6],

 having regard to its resolution of 26 February 2014 on optimising the potential of outermost regions by creating synergies between the Structural Funds and other European Union programmes[7],

 having regard to its resolution of 18 April 2012 on the role of Cohesion Policy in the outermost regions of the European Union in the context of EU 2020[8],

 having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development (A9-0241/2021),

A. whereas it is important to take into account the European Green Deal, the ‘Do no significant harm’ principle, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Paris Agreement;

B. whereas it is important to note the principles set out in the European Pillar of Social Rights, including its contribution to eliminate inequalities and to promote gender equality and gender mainstreaming;

C. whereas the outermost regions (ORs) are connected to three Member States and whereas they currently number nine (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Mayotte, Martinique and Saint Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal) and the Canary Islands (Spain)), spread across two oceans (the Atlantic and Indian Oceans), with more than 4.8 million inhabitants;

D. whereas over 80% of Europe’s biodiversity is in the ORs and the European overseas countries and territories (OCT); whereas the ORs have a strategic geopolitical value in terms of global biodiversity protection;

E. whereas the ORs add to the maritime dimension of the European Union, making it the world’s largest maritime area with over 25 million km2 of exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and major economic opportunities;

F. whereas the ORs suffer more from marine pollution than any other mainland region of Europe because of their insularity, and this affects their environmental and economic development;

G. whereas the school drop-out rate among young people aged between 18 and 24 in the ORs regrettably exceeds 20%, which is significantly higher than the EU average of 10%[9];

H. whereas the ORs have an extremely rich cultural heritage that helps to extend Europe’s influence and strengthen its soft power in the world; whereas the 2017 Commission communication identified culture as an important aspect and an element of differentiation for the ORs;

I. whereas the current COVID-19 crisis has worryingly exposed the already vulnerable OR economies; and whereas this crisis and Brexit will have long-term social, economic, environmental, territorial and cultural consequences;

J. whereas the health crisis has also exacerbated the weaknesses of the regional health services in the ORs, requiring relatively strict measures to combat the pandemic there;

K. whereas it is a matter of concern that various sectors of the blue economy, especially coastal and maritime tourism, are likely to be affected by the current pandemic crisis;

TITLE 1: Consolidating progress, addressing vulnerabilities and playing to strengths to put the ORs at the heart of European action

1. Welcomes the Commission’s report of March 2020 giving an initial assessment of the implementation of the stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the ORs launched in October 2017 and the efforts made both in the ORs and the Member States concerned and in the European institutions to put it into practice; calls for those advances to be consolidated in the new European strategy for the ORs;

2. Stresses the numerous advances obtained for the ORs under the new 2021-2027 MFF at both budgetary and legislative level through specific arrangements in the Structural Funds and horizontal programmes, and welcomes the additional measures taken for the ORs as part of the Next Generation EU recovery plan; emphasises the need to read Article 349 of the TFEU in conjunction with Article 7 in order to allow for a differentiated approach, taking full account of their specific characteristics and structural constraints, to be applied to the ORs in the implementation of European law, in accordance with the judgment of the Court of Justice of 15 December 2015;

3. Notes with satisfaction the extension and maintenance until 2027 of several tax derogations for the ORs (AIEM (‘Arbitrio sobre Importaciones y Entregas de Mercancías en las Islas Canarias’, applicable to the Canary Islands), dock dues, reduced tax rates on liqueurs, rum and eaux-de-vie from the Azores and Madeira, and traditional rum from overseas departments)); recalls the importance of maintaining the arrangements based on Article 349 TFEU for the ORs, which must reconcile the twin imperatives of protecting local production and tackling the high cost of living, while ensuring that the local populations are fully informed of the implementation of these mechanisms;

4. Calls on the Commission services and the national and regional authorities to strike a balance between legitimate and essential controls on the use of EU funds and simplifying and making more flexible the administrative rules needed to modernise and optimise them, in order to encourage local initiatives;

A. Systematising a ‘European OR reflex’

5. Wishes to see an ‘OR reflex’ systematised within the European institutions, focused on adopting a cross-cutting and integrated approach to the reality and challenges of the ORs in all European public policies;

6. Calls on the Commission, in line with its role as ‘guardian of the Treaties’, to make the OR Unit in DG REGIO the ‘guardian of the correct application of Article 349 TFEU’, and to consider setting up a fully-fledged directorate directly linked to ‘OR correspondents’ in the other directorates-general;

7. Calls on the Council to set up a specific OR committee, modelled on the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA), with the aim of ensuring that the priorities and realities of the ORs are integrated into European initiatives and laws;

8. Calls for the creation of the post of ‘OR permanent rapporteur’ to help the European Parliament monitor the correct application of Article 349 TFEU in European public policy;

B. Better communication and information

9. Calls for the establishment of a genuine communication strategy which would, in particular, involve young people and inform them about the opportunities offered by the EU and raise their awareness of the usefulness of Europe in their daily lives; calls for a Commission office to be set up in each OR, taking into account the archipelagic nature of many of these regions and their multiple and geographically separated territories;

10. Recommends that better use be made of the various platforms for exchange between administrations, such as the TAIEX-REGIO PEER 2 PEER programme for cohesion funds, the TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER programme for environmental matters or the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform;

11. Proposes the creation of an ‘Erasmus’ for administrations managing European funds in the ORs, in order to ensure that best practices are shared so as to optimise the use of cohesion funds;

12. Stresses the importance of the website[10] that provides statistical data on the ORs (Eurostat), developed in cooperation with the statistical services of Portugal, Spain and France and the ORs; deplores the fact that there are no exhaustive data on Saint Martin, which prevents comprehensive and comparative analyses of all the ORs; urges the Commission, and Eurostat in particular, to collect reliable, aggregated and up-to-date data from the ORs, which will enable sectoral analyses, and also to assess the impact of implementing European policy in the ORs;

C. Building the future

13. Calls for the ORs to be better integrated into the discussions of the Conference on the Future of Europe, in particular via the Conference of Presidents of the ORs, in order to provide a perspective from the outermost regions, and to ensure the effective application of Article 349 of the TFEU in future EU programmes and policies;

14. Highlights that the dialogues with the citizens are a fundamental element in inducing proximity and building bridges between the ORs and the European institutions; calls, in this context, on the Commission to intensify these dialogues, in particular in the ORs;

15. Calls on the Commission to help build a new strategy for and with the ORs that responds to local realities and needs and reflects the European Parliament’s recommendations, and that is based on respect for their specific characteristics, consolidation of what has been achieved and optimisation of existing arrangements, innovation and an appreciation of the ORs as ‘territories offering solutions’;

16. Recommends the definition of a genuine action plan for this new strategic partnership, involving the main stakeholders, especially national, regional and local authorities, economic and social agents, civil society, the academic community and non-governmental organisations;

17. Calls for the new strategy and action plan to be implemented as quickly as possible to aid the economic and social recovery of the ORs;

TITLE 2: Investing in the battle for jobs, consolidating solidarity and focusing on youth

18. Recognises that the ORs offer the Union opportunities to establish pilot schemes in the face of socio-economic and climate challenges, but that taking advantage of those opportunities will require accelerating the process of making up for underdevelopment linked to structural handicaps, as well as consolidating and ring-fencing the resources used to compensate for these structural handicaps resulting from remoteness and insularity, which are vital tools for helping the ORs to become fully and fairly integrated within the European area;

A. Consolidating solidarity

19. Calls on the Commission, the Member States and the ORs to make the fight against poverty, unemployment and social exclusion – including the exclusion of people with disabilities – the priorities of European solidarity, while investing in education and training and in future projects focusing on innovation, especially social innovation, reskilling and diversification;

20. Believes that cohesion policy should offer more benefits to women living in outermost regions, and should promote gender equality and effective implementation of the EU Gender Equality Strategy in the ORs;

21. Emphasises the key role played by the social and solidarity-based economy in the ORs, which partners the regional and local authorities in tackling the constraints caused by their remoteness, poverty and social exclusion, and generating jobs and developing initiatives in these regions, in line with the various European strategies; calls for this situation to be recognised at European level and for this non-profit sector to have direct access to EU subsidies;

B. Health protection

22. Emphasises that the particular circumstances of the ORs make them more vulnerable to global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic; calls, therefore, for every possible lesson to be learnt from this crisis and for the particular circumstances of the ORs to be borne in mind when events of this nature occur in the future;

23. Proposes the creation of a centre for research into tropical infectious diseases and pathologies that particularly affect the ORs, such as diabetes, obesity and certain cancers, and calls for the funds needed to address the underdevelopment of healthcare in the ORs;

24. Calls for a pilot project based on the model of the BEST preparatory action, so that work on medicinal plants in the ORs can be supported;

C. Youth: a priority for actions and results

25. Reiterates the fact that in the ORs the strength of youth is a major asset which is often insufficiently valued and that it should be a priority for building tangible solutions through the large-scale mobilisation of EU funding for education, training and support, housing and decent, quality work for young people;

26. Stresses, in this regard, the need to prioritise investment in all levels of education and lifelong training in the ORs as a way of preventing school drop-out; urges the Commission to regard education as a ‘key element’ in the development of the ORs, by helping regional and local authorities to design public policies that encourage young people and offer them new and attractive educational, training, skilling and reskilling options at local and regional level, including digital skills, whether through face-to-face learning or distance learning, so that they can build up a set of recognised skills;

27. Encourages the mobilisation of European funds to create ‘campuses of excellence’ in the geographical areas of the ORs, promoting the interconnection of schools, universities and training centres in those regions, and research centres to study in more detail and better understand the biodiversity of the ORs;

28. Recalls, in the light of youth unemployment in the outermost regions, the need to create specific measures, particularly by means of the Youth Employment Initiative; welcomes, in this respect, the creation of an additional OR allocation under the ESF+ 2021-2027 and calls on the regions concerned to seize this new source of funding to support employability, mobility and training in the ORs;

29. Calls on the Commission to support youth employment in the ORs by working with the private sector, universities and local authorities to establish a digital one-stop shop in order to help young people who are seeking their first job or looking to establish or take over businesses in the ORs;

D. Improving integration of the reality of the ORs in Erasmus+

30. Calls for maximum financial support to be provided to students from the ORs when taking part in the Erasmus+ programme, with an increase in travel allowances, if necessary, to cover the real travel costs, and for measures to promote mobility in third countries in the geographical, cultural and historical area of each OR as well as intra-OR exchanges;

31. Stresses that is crucial to increase the participation of the ORs in all the actions of the Erasmus + program, and to promote strong cooperation and mobility exchanges between educational, social and sports institutions;

TITLE 3: Developing sustainable and fair growth, promoting a green and blue economy, and fostering new professions towards climate neutrality by 2050

32. Stresses the importance of encourage local initiatives by supporting all manufacturing companies in the ORs, especially VSMEs and SMEs, and the tourism, craft, culture, industrial, building and construction, and digital sectors; emphasises the need for innovative, sustainable and resilient investment;

33. Encourages the ORs to join the ‘Local2030’ network and develop sustainable development scorecards so that they can better share their solutions;

34. Reaffirms the need to make professions connected with agriculture, livestock farming, fisheries, the sea and the environment in the ORs more attractive, particularly to young people, on account of their structural importance in economic, social and environmental terms;

A. Agricultural policy and the green economy

35. Stresses the importance of integrating the particular circumstances and agricultural models of the ORs in the strategic plans and the management of rural development programmes of the CAP in order to support a more regional and more flexible approach;

36. Calls for the specific mechanisms and financial allocations of the POSEI scheme to be maintained or strengthened in order to achieve the objectives of food autonomy, the transition to agro-ecology, green growth, diversification and the capacity to react to market crises in the ORs; points out that the POSEI amounts have not been adjusted for inflation, unlike the other payments under the CAP;

37. Points out the POSEI scheme is vital in promoting economic and social cohesion in the EU, maintaining the rural environment and combating the depopulation of the ORs; underlines, in this regard, the Commission’s positive assessment of the POSEI scheme;

38. Observes that the disappearance of quotas and guaranteed prices which began with the reform of the common organisation of the market in sugar in 2005 has damaged cane sugar producers in the ORs; emphasises the need to place on a permanent footing all the specific instruments put in place within the framework of Article 349 of the TFEU in the interests of the sustainable competitiveness of this industry; calls for the establishment of a support scheme for sugar-cane growers in the event of a fall in world sugar prices;

39. Urges the Commission to increase the budgets allocated to campaigns to promote and raise awareness and appreciation of EU quality schemes, particularly:

i) products with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), and voluntary certification schemes;

ii) organic production methods;

iii) logos for specific quality agricultural products from the ORs;

40. Supports the Farm to Fork strategy, which further limits the use of plant protection agents for the EU; emphasises, however, the need to take into account the specificities of the tropical and sub-tropical cultures in the ORs in order to support the transition;

41. Reiterates the importance of keeping the EAFRD cofinancing rates for the ORs at 85%, in particular to restore, preserve and enhance biodiversity in agriculture and forestry, and to encourage development in rural areas of the ORs;

B. Fisheries policy and the blue economy

42. Reaffirms the crucial role of the blue economy in and for the ORs; Calls for the introduction of nature-based solutions and underlines the need to respect the balance between ocean resources and the development of maritime activities;

43. Calls on the Commission to set up pilot projects in the ORs focusing on the blue economy and training, which would give these regions a leading position in ocean governance, and to support innovation and research, including on hydro-biodegradable materials, with a view to supporting the transition to a circular economy, keeping in mind that these materials are not a solution to marine pollution;

44. Calls for the specific mechanisms under the common fisheries policy within the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) to be strengthened in order to achieve the objective of food autonomy and support the blue growth of the ORs, in particular by providing effective, pragmatic solutions for the transport of OR fisheries products to allow them to arrive at their key markets quickly and in optimum condition;

45. Is concerned that the fishing fleets of the ORs are, in certain cases, very degraded and old, and constitute a danger for fishers and for the environment; points out that fishing activity in these regions is based mainly on traditional practices; regrets, therefore, that the renewal of their artisanal fleets is not eligible for support under the EMFAF for 2021-2027, even where there is a balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities in the ORs (respect for maximum sustainable yield);

46. Urges the Commission to help the Member States to improve the collection of the scientific data needed to meet the eligibility conditions for fishing fleet renewal State aid in the ORs;

47. Recalls that, under Article 29d of the EMFAF Regulation, the Commission undertook to present a mid-term report on the chapter concerning the ORs (Chapter V) and to assess the need for a separate regulation on fisheries in the ORs;

48. Calls on the Commission and the Council to establish by 2027 a support instrument similar to the POSEI scheme for the maritime and fisheries sector in the ORs, with a view to securing funds to meet the specific needs of these regions;

49. Stresses the need to protect the ORs when concluding fisheries agreements with third countries;

C. Sustainable tourism

50. Calls on the Commission and Member States to provide strong support for the tourism sector in the ORs in order to encourage recovery and growth and enable the necessary social, environmental and digital transformation of the sector, with particular emphasis on SMEs;

51. Stresses the need to focus on sustainable tourism by supporting innovative pilot projects to promote greener and digital solutions, focusing on use of, and respect for, the regions’ natural potential via ecotourism projects;

52. Calls for the creation, in the long term, of a single European label for sustainable tourism, which incorporates quality, accessibility and inclusiveness aspects, with particular emphasis on the ORs;

D. Environment, biodiversity, climate and energy

53.  Welcomes the fact that the Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 take into account the exceptional biodiversity potential of the ORs;

54. Strongly supports the promotion of the UN SDGs and the ‘Do no significant harm’ principle within the meaning of Article17 of Taxonomy Regulation (EU) No 2020/852;

55. Is concerned about the increase in the frequency and severity of weather events in the ORs directly linked to climate change; reiterates the need for strong action at all levels to coordinate the investments needed to ensure adaptability, resilience and prevention in relation to these increasing climate threats; recommends greater use of the European Civil Protection Mechanism;

56. Welcomes the fact that the specific challenges facing the ORs, such as the rise in sea levels, the increase in sea temperatures and the higher frequency of earthquakes and floods, mean that the EU’s legislative framework must take account of these particular circumstances and, if necessary, grant derogations and financial and technical incentives;

57. Stresses that the implementation of the biodiversity strategy in the ORs must be coordinated with the efforts to ensure sustainable development of the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture sectors in these regions;

58. Encourages the emergence of new environment-related professions and support for grassroots actors involved in biodiversity and environmental protection, including associations and NGOs, and in that regard encourages the strengthening of the partnership principle;

59. Calls for the new Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity provided for in the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to improve the inclusion of data from all European overseas entities and to develop an ultramarine version of the EU’s nature restoration plan;

60. Calls on the Commission and the relevant Member States to promote and actively support nature protection and restoration objectives in the ORs, and calls, too, for the creation of a trans-OR nature network;

61. Warns that the loss of young people from the remotest parts of the ORs has a negative impact on forest maintenance capacities and increases the risk of fires due to a lack of management of these resources and the growth of invasive plants; calls for schemes to protect our environment by combating depopulation, attracting and keeping more people in such locations, and encouraging activities connected with sustainable agriculture and nature;

62. Welcomes the fact that the LIFE programme includes the BEST initiative; recommends that at least EUR 8 million be allocated every year to the BEST initiative to help territories implement the new EU Biodiversity Strategy, which requires at least 30% of land and sea areas to be protected; suggests that an impact study be carried out regarding the possibility of applying the Natura 2000 programme to the French outermost regions, with a view to determining the most appropriate tools for the protection of the biodiversity and environment of these regions;

63. Reaffirms the objective of achieving energy autonomy for the ORs and strongly supports the objective of achieving 100% renewable energy in the ORs by phasing out fossil fuels and enhancing the growing potential of sustainable and renewable energy, including offshore energy, in line with the Paris Agreement and the European commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 at the latest and the climate goals for 2030;

64. Calls for support to improve the energy efficiency of housing in the ORs; underlines the particular circumstances and the obstacles to accessing materials certified for this purpose; stresses the importance of the Just Transition Fund and REACT-EU, which finance the transitions in the ORs;

E. Integrated and enhanced circular economy

65. Considers that the circular economy, the goal of zero pollution, energy efficiency and preservation of biodiversity should be guiding principles of this new strategy with the ORs, and should lead to more sustainable practices for the preservation of territories, economic development, employment and cohesion;

66. Calls on the Commission to propose strong support to be provided to the ORs in order to promote a new sustainable economic model, with structural initiatives for developing the circular economy and promoting jobs and new ‘green’ professions;

67. Underlines the need to integrate the circular economy in the waste management policies in the ORs; recommends that innovative solutions be developed in order to reduce and recover waste in the ORs; warns that waste management in the ORs is complex and costly, which means that support is needed for investment in infrastructure so as to encourage the transition to a circular economy;

68. Calls on the Commission to establish in the ORs a centre for combating marine pollution and to support the development of infrastructure for collecting and treating marine litter;

69. Calls on the Commission to invite applications for scientific research projects for the ORs under the Horizon Europe programme, following on from the achievements of the Horizon 2020 programme;


TITLE 4: Adapting to the challenges and opportunities of a globalised world

70. Recalls that the ORs have strong potential and distinctive assets that can benefit the EU as a whole; notes that Europe must rely on the ORs and on their cooperation with their neighbouring countries to promote its democratic values and its environmental and social objectives;

71. Calls on the Commission to develop and promote macro-regional strategies for the ORs in their respective geographical areas, while examining all opportunities for better coordination in practice of the simultaneous measures under the various EU funds (ERDF, Overseas Association Decision and Europe in the world (Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument));

72. Calls on the Commission to take account of the ORs in the Atlantic macro-regional strategy by including topics relevant to them;

73. Calls for the deployment of the new component dedicated to cooperation with the ORs in the new Interreg programme;

74. Stresses the need to increase, encourage and pursue the development of cooperation projects between the various ORs, with a view to taking advantage of their geostrategic and geo-economic situation and the exchange of best practices;

A. Fair and appropriate competition policy

75. Stresses the need to protect the OR economies from aggressive trade practices, such as clearance markets and the abuse of monopolies;

76. Urges the Commission to take proper account of the specific situation of the ORs, particularly their remoteness from the European continent and their small markets, when implementing its competition policy; points out that State aid derogations for the ORs are particularly useful;

77. Welcomes the adaptation of EU State aid legislation to the crisis resulting from COVID-19; calls on the Commission to study the need to permanently continue some of these exceptional measures for the ORs, together with the measures already adopted for these regions under the General Block Exemption Regulation and the Guidelines on Regional State Aid;

78. Calls for the creation of a specific status for enterprises in the ORs in order to increase their competitiveness, particularly within their region;

B. Transport and opening up

79. Reiterates that significant constraints, linked to their remoteness, poor connectivity, dependence on ports and airports, and terrain, put the ORs at a disadvantage; considers that it is necessary to have a transport policy that is fully adjusted to the reality of the ORs, within the framework of the ERDF and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)); calls on the Commission to establish a POSEI transport programme as an additional tool, in order to compensate for the combined disadvantages and losses;

80. Stresses the need to consolidate and develop maritime and air connections between the ORs, within the ORs, and with the European continent and neighbouring third countries in order to support their opening-up;

81. Stresses the need to encourage the ORs to use more sustainable and less polluting transport by promoting fossil fuel alternatives;

82. Supports the EU’s desire to harness ecological maritime transport and innovative port activities in order to reduce the carbon and environmental footprint in the EU, and calls for the ORs to benefit from this, too;

83. Stresses the need to minimise passenger and goods transport costs in order to guarantee the principle of territorial cohesion and continuity, as well as equal opportunities for all citizens; calls for prices of air transport (to and from the ORs), land transport (internally, between municipalities) and sea transport (inter-region and inter-island) to be maintained; considers, in this regard, that derogations for the ORs should be envisaged in the CO2 emissions trading system for both maritime and air transport, and, if necessary, financial and technical incentives;

84. Urges the Commission to ensure that the CEF involves a call specific to the ORs with adapted eligibility criteria, so that support can be provided for alternative and sustainable fuel supply infrastructure in the regions’ main ports, as well as for urban mobility and aviation;

85. Calls on the Commission to integrate the OR dimension when revising Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013 on trans-European transport networks, by ensuring the interconnection of the central and global networks, and by relaxing the conceptual framework of motorways of the sea;

86. Considers that it is essential for the Commission to provide technical support to make it easier for the ORs to access European funding, especially for projects linked to the Green Deal and the construction of large infrastructure projects under the InvestEU Programme;

C. Digital and space

87. Welcomes the Digital Europe programme’s proposal that seeks to promote greater connectivity and better digital skills in the ORs; calls on the Commission to provide the technical support needed to set up European digital innovation hubs in the ORs, as envisaged in the Digital Europe Programme;

88. Stresses the need to ensure digital connectivity in the ORs in line with the EU’s digital agenda as a tool for economic development and equal opportunity in the era of globalisation and in a highly digitalised world;

89. Draws attention to the fact that satellites provide uninterrupted very high-capacity connectivity, which is essential for overcoming the digital divide, particularly in the ORs; calls on the Commission, therefore, to update the European Space Strategy, adopting specific measures for the ORs;

D. Trade policy

90. Calls on the Commission to ensure that the ORs benefit fully from international agreements (economic partnership agreements (EPAs), free trade agreements (FTAs), etc.) concluded between the EU and third countries by creating an ‘OR impact of trade policy’ task force, which would ensure the effective involvement of the ORs, including representatives from the OR economic sectors;

91. Calls on the Commission to carry out a study measuring the cumulative impact of trade agreements with third countries on the socio-economic development of the ORs;

92. Calls for respect for the EU’s environmental and social standards in the trade agreements concluded with third countries and for efficient and operational measures to ensure that these agreements are respected;

93. Notes that the multiplication of trade agreements between the EU and third countries that produce the same agricultural products for export as the ORs, but under different social and environmental conditions, can distort competition and disrupt market shares by threatening the competitiveness of EU producers of these goods;

94. Calls for preferential treatment for OR products when renegotiating EPAs and FTAs to ensure a fair balance between protecting sensitive agricultural products and defending the EU’s offensive interests, by envisaging safeguard clauses, transition periods and appropriate quotas for OR products and, in some cases, the exclusion of the most sensitive products, such as speciality sugars;

95. Recalls the joint declaration by the three institutions annexed to the Regulation on the stabilisation mechanism, revised when Ecuador joined the EU-Colombia/Peru Trade Agreement, which states that the Commission will analyse the state of the market after the mechanism has expired and, if the situation of Union banana producers has deteriorated, will take action, after consulting the interested parties;

96. Recommends specific checks by the Chief Trade Enforcement Officer in order to prevent any situations that discriminate against the ORs, and calls for application of the principle of ‘conformity’ on imports from third countries of organic products;

E. Promoting cultural development

97. Underlines that the ORs are ambassadors for the enlargement of the EU’s sphere of influence and represent a real opportunity for the Union’s external policies because of their proximity and direct links to a large number of third countries;

98. Emphasises the advantages offered by the geostrategic position and historical links of several Atlantic ORs with the American continent and island states of the Caribbean; recommends making the most of their special position to enhance the EU’s international relations in that region;

99. Recalls that culture is a pillar of personal development and mutual enrichment; considers it necessary to improve support for cultural exchanges;

100. Calls for measures to protect and support the regional languages of the ORs, which are both a source of cultural wealth and vectors for macro-regional integration and exchanges;

F. Migration policy

101. Notes with concern the impact of migration flows in the ORs; is worried about the situation of unaccompanied child migrants in the ORs and calls for the application of the highest humanitarian reception standards specifically adapted to these minors; underlines the need for a human approach that can ensure effective management of migration flows in line with the new Pact on Asylum and Migration and the Union’s values;

102. Calls for the mobilisation of resources under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and for additional specific funds to provide greater support for the Member States whose ORs are facing strong migratory pressure;

103. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European Committee of the Regions, the Member States and the Conference of Presidents of the Outermost Regions.




Everywhere, across all oceans and continents, the health crisis is triggering life-threatening emergencies. It requires the development of an awareness and a recognition, more than ever, that European public policies must be effective.


Whether or not we believe in a ‘world after’, public action is subject to accountability and citizens legitimately demand solutions to address the human, societal, economic and environmental challenges.


As everywhere, and perhaps more than anywhere else, the outermost regions (ORs) are on the front line, confronted by major economic, social, climate and cultural issues.


Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is the tool for the development and reconstruction of the ORs. It must be consolidated, systematically respected and fully integrated into all European public policies.


The crisis has confirmed the tremendous resilience of women and men in these territories that are geographically distant from the European continent, but it has also highlighted what still needs to be done to make up for structural underdevelopment and inequalities in development and in the fight against poverty.


At the height of the crisis, as well as experiencing the global collective shock, when the wholesale lockdown required the closure of air routes and maritime links, in the ORs the significance of insularity and the constraints of remoteness immediately raised questions which quickly became a demand:

‘As Europeans living on an island in the Atlantic, in the Amazon or in the Indian Ocean 10 000 km from Strasbourg or Brussels, who can we really count on?’

First of all, on each one of us. On our natural resources, on our local skills and on the resilience inherited from our ancestors. The key sectors of agriculture, fisheries and local production have demonstrated their indispensability and that European support to enable their development and ecological transition is therefore imperative.


In tackling the emergency Europe has shown a responsiveness in its actions to support the regions and has incorporated flexibility into its modes of operation, in particular by deploying innovative measures in its cohesion policy with CRII and CRII+.


In order for the rebuilding of the ORs post-COVID and post-Brexit to be effective, all the lessons from this crisis management need to be learned and what has been achieved in terms of innovation in the strategic orientations, the fundamental usefulness of the European Structural Funds and administrative simplification must be consolidated and integrated into a reinforced partnership between Europe and the ORs.

Europe’s stated desire is to ‘leave no one behind’, and this path of shared respect, innovations to be built and new solidarities must necessarily include the ORs. The success of the approach means that words must quickly be turned translated into action for a new development model which protects human potential and natural resources; which respects territorial expertise and cultural wealth; which encourages local initiatives; which invests heavily in training for young people and which incorporates the need for a regional strategy.


At the same time as consolidating the foundations of the respect for specificities and the essential support needed to tackle the structural challenges, Europe must encourage boldness and local creativity and create in the ORs the conditions for reconciling the economy and the environment. This is genuinely a matter of urgency for the ORs, which, in a context of social, economic and climate fragility, must meet the twin challenge of employment and preserving their exceptional biodiversity.


While Europe is committed to implementing a Green Deal, it must also implement a Blue Deal to protect, develop and exploit the maritime and ocean potential of its territories.


The ORs are Europe’s Afro-Atlantic and Indian Ocean front lines. This important geostrategic location means that they need to be able to develop a regional partnership and exchange strategy with their regional neighbours. Europe, for its part, must take care not to disturb the balance of the ORs’ regional relations by signing Economic Partnership Agreements or Free Trade Agreements with third countries which do not incorporate the need to protect the interests of the ORs.


This report seeks to place the ORs not at the periphery but right at the heart of European public action.


Together, Europe and the ORs have the means to achieve a win-win partnership. 


On the island of Réunion there is a Creole proverb which encourages boldness: ‘pa kapab’ lé mor san eséyé’ (‘not able means dying without trying’). Today, the ORs and Europe must of course try to optimise the existing levers. But together we must above all succeed in building a new development path by structuring a proactive political approach of respect for specificities, strategic encouragement of innovation, particularly in the battle for jobs, building territories offering solutions in the face of climate change, protecting biodiversity and promoting cultural wealth.

This is what citizens demand.

They are the basis of our legitimacy.

They guide our ambition, our actions and our demands.



Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

François Alfonsi, Mathilde Androuët, Pascal Arimont, Adrian-Dragoş Benea, Isabel Benjumea Benjumea, Tom Berendsen, Erik Bergkvist, Stéphane Bijoux, Franc Bogovič, Vlad-Marius Botoş, Rosanna Conte, Corina Crețu, Rosa D’Amato, Christian Doleschal, Francesca Donato, Raffaele Fitto, Chiara Gemma, Mircea-Gheorghe Hava, Krzysztof Hetman, Peter Jahr, Constanze Krehl, Elżbieta Kruk, Cristina Maestre Martín De Almagro, Nora Mebarek, Martina Michels, Dan-Ştefan Motreanu, Andżelika Anna Możdżanowska, Niklas Nienaß, Andrey Novakov, Younous Omarjee, Alessandro Panza, Tsvetelina Penkova, Caroline Roose, André Rougé, Susana Solís Pérez, Irène Tolleret, Valdemar Tomaševski, Yana Toom

Substitutes present for the final vote

Isabel Carvalhais, Laurence Farreng, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Bronis Ropė







Raffaele Fitto, Elżbieta Kruk, Andżelika Anna Możdżanowska, Valdemar Tomaševski


Rosanna Conte, Francesca Donato, Alessandro Panza


Chiara Gemma


Pascal Arimont, Isabel Benjumea Benjumea, Tom Berendsen, Franc Bogovič, Christian Doleschal, Mircea-Gheorghe Hava, Krzysztof Hetman, Peter Jahr, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Dan-Ştefan Motreanu, Andrey Novakov


Stéphane Bijoux, Vlad-Marius Botoş, Laurence Farreng, Susana Solís Pérez, Irène Tolleret, Yana Toom


Adrian-Dragoş Benea, Erik Bergkvist, Isabel Carvalhais, Corina Crețu, Constanze Krehl, Cristina Maestre Martín De Almagro, Nora Mebarek, Tsvetelina Penkova

The Left

Martina Michels, Younous Omarjee


François Alfonsi, Rosa D’Amato, Niklas Nienaß, Caroline Roose, Bronis Ropė









Mathilde Androuët, André Rougé


Key to symbols:

+ : for

 : against

0 : abstentions



Last updated: 1 September 2021
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