EU Territories with special status
EU Member States and their territories
At this moment the EU has 27 Member States, also referred to as the ‘EU 27’. Some of these EU 27 are historically connected to areas outside of Europe. In the appendix, you will find an overview of the Member States that have additional territories.
Member States with territories with special status
- Outermost Region of the Community (OMR)
- Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT)
- Special cases
1. Outermost Region (OMR)
- French Guiana
- Saint Martin
- La Réunion
- Canary Islands
These OMR are part of the EU. It is however important to note that in the first place, these OMR fall under the jurisdiction of their respective Member State. Should, for example, France choose to leave the EU, the OMR leave too. See the appendix for an overview of territories that fall under the ‘EU Single Market’.
- The French overseas areas are under French law and are treated, for the most part, as integral parts of the French Republic. The currency is the Euro, but they are outside the Schengen Area and EU VAT area.
- The Portugese OMR are, under Portuguese legislation, treated as autonomous regions. The Azores and Madeira deviate from the application of EU legislation in regards to taxation, fishing and transpiration. The Portugese OMR are inside the EU VAT area, but have a lower VAT than in the rest of Portugal.
- The Spanish Canary Islands form autonomous communities under Spanish law. They are however outside the EU VAT area.
2. Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT)
There are 13 Oversea Countries and Territories (OCT) regions. The OCT are not a part of the EU or the EU Single Market. This means that they can have their own product legislation. They do have the possibility to opt-in to certain EU legislation (see below). The OCT are dependent territories that have a ‘special relationship’ with one of the member states of the EU.
The OCT together founded OCTA (Overseas Countries and Territories Association). The purpose of OCTA is to improve economic development and cooperation between the OCT and EU. Under EU legislation, the OCT have the opportunity to opt into EU provisions on certain freedom of movement for workers and freedom of establishment. On 25 June 2008, a Cooperation Treaty was signed between the EU and OCTA. The OCTA contains detailed rules and procedures on for example education and training, public health, tourism and culture and digital accessibility (Decision (EU) 2021/1764),
Currently, the 13 OCT of the European Union and their Member State are:
- French Polynesia
- New Caledonia
- French Southern and Antarctic Lands
- Sint Eustatius
- Sint Maarten
3. Special cases
While the OCT have a strong connection with 3 EU Member States, 10 Member States have territories that have no special status. Their relationship with the EU is ad hoc arranged. Not all of them are a part of the EU or take part in the Single Market. The territories are as follows:
- UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus
- Faroe Islands
- Büsingen am Hochrhein
- Monastic Republic of Mount Athos
- Campione d’Italia