Azores, Canaries, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Madeira, Mayotte, Martinique, Réunion and Saint Martin: nine island regions and one isolated region in the northwest of the South American continent, thousands of kilometers from Europe; some bathed by the Caribbean Sea, others by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans; Portuguese, French and Spanish, three official languages and three different nationalities for a group of regions fully integrated into the European Union and forming a peculiar and well-defined group within it: the Outermost Regions of the European Union (ORs).
Physically remote and isolated from the European market, but fully European Union through the accession of its Member States, the ORs are in a natural context marked by insularity, volcanism, tropical climate and proximity to other less developed third countries. These regions have in common a series of disadvantages that, accumulated, affect their economic and social development:
Despite their low economic and demographic weight in the EU as a whole, the ORs also offer advantages to Europe. Its geographical location and its natural environment add another dimension to the European Union: a maritime zone and a valuable geostrategic position; privileged places for the implementation of scientific research activities and high technology, a great potential to develop renewable energies and an exceptional natural framework for a safe and environmentally friendly tourism, among others.
This shared situation has led them to strengthen their bonds of unity and to affirm their willingness to cooperate, with the aim of showing their potential and that the EU does not forget its particular and specific situation, as the only way to achieve sustainable economic and social development. place them in a position of equality with respect to the rest of the Community regions.
Recognizing their differences, but understanding that they have common bases, the Outermost Regions have based their strategy on the regional reality without forgetting the natural spaces that surround them: the European space to which they belong, and to which they contribute a planetary dimension, and their geo-economic space, in which they aspire to be a model of sustainable development, bearer of added value and cooperation.
The EU has recognized the notion of outermost in Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the legal basis for modulating European policies and taking specific and long-lasting measures to their benefit.