Outermost regions of the EU: A stronger and renewed partnership

Briefing 19-01-2018

The EU's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, which can severely hamper their development. Specific support mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission outlining measures aimed at assisting outermost regions in its communications published in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Nevertheless, with the outermost regions continuing to face numerous challenges in areas such as mobility, unemployment and climate change, discussions were launched on the formulation of a new strategy, which was published in October 2017. The result of extensive consultation with stakeholders, including Parliament and the outermost regions themselves, the 2017 communication puts forward a new approach to support their development by making the most of the outermost regions' assets, exploiting new opportunities for growth and job creation and giving greater recognition to their specific circumstances and needs. To achieve this, the communication outlines a series of concrete and coordinated actions to be taken at EU and national level, as well as by the outermost regions, and calls for a stronger partnership between outermost regions, their respective Member States, and the EU. While broadly welcoming the new strategy, the outermost regions and its partners have highlighted several key issues that it fails to cover. Equally, although the Commission puts forward many commitments and positive measures, the strategy is very much a work in progress, and its measures will need to be developed further and incorporated into the EU legislative framework before they can be rolled out on the ground. In this context, the future shape of the EU's legislative and financial proposals post-2020 will be of crucial importance for the successful delivery of this strategy. This is a revised and updated version of a briefing from March 2017, PE 599.365.