The European Union and Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna is made up of three traditional Polynesian kingdoms. The capital is Mata-Utu. This French collectivity in the Pacific Ocean is the furthest away from metropolitan France (16 000 km). Fiji is 480 km to the south-west. The collectivity’s economy has remained traditional and transactions are largely non-monetary. Own consumption is twice as high as in metropolitan France. The economy is bolstered by public spending on salaries.
Association of the OCTs with the European Union
Overseas countries and territories (OCTs) have been associated with the European Union since the Treaty of Rome entered into force. These 13 islands and groups of islands located in the Atlantic, Antarctic, Arctic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific regions are not sovereign countries but depend on three EU Member States: Denmark, France and the Netherlands. The Overseas Association Decision (Council Decision 2013/755/EU) covers relations between the OCTs (including Greenland), the Member States to which they are linked and the European Union. The main source of funding for the current Overseas Association Decision is the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), covering the programming and funding of territorial and regional programmes for OCTs other than Greenland, for which there is a specific decision funded from the EU budget.
In general, OCTs have wide-ranging autonomy in areas such as economic affairs, the employment market, public health, home affairs and customs. Defence and foreign affairs remain within the remit of the Member States. OCTs are not part of the EU customs territory. EU legislation therefore does not apply to them. The OCTs’ inhabitants hold EU citizenship. Cooperation between the EU and the OCTs in the area of financial services helps to build a safer financial system.
Between 2008 and 2013 (10th EDF), the EU allocated €16.49 million to develop Futuna’s maritime services and improve the management of port facilities and public finances. Between 2014 and 2020 (11th EDF), Wallis and Futuna received €19.6 million in aid for digital development. Following cyclones Tomas (2010) and Evan (2012), the EU also financed the restoration of school infrastructure on Futuna and the shoring up of the electricity grid.
PROTEGE, the Pacific Territories Regional Project for Sustainable Ecosystem Management, is an initiative designed to promote sustainable and climate-change-resilient economic development in the three Pacific OCTs (New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna) with an emphasis on biodiversity and renewable natural resources. The project is being implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) over a period of four years (2018-2022). It focuses on four topics: agriculture and forestry, coastal fishing and aquaculture, water and invasive species. It is financed through the 11th EDF regional budget (€36 million) and co-financing from the three OCTs (€128 000).
The Kiwa Initiative, launched in March 2020 by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) with a budget of €35 million, is the result of an unprecedented partnership led by France (€13 million) and the European Union (€13.9 million) and also bringing together Canada (€6.8 million), Australia (€0.62 million) and New Zealand (€0.6 million). Its aim is to strengthen the resilience of Oceania’s ecosystems, economies and communities to the impacts of climate change by supporting projects that promote nature-based solutions through grants and technical assistance.
Other European instruments and programmes
French Polynesia is also a beneficiary of the BEST 2.0+ programme, the goal of which is to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem services, including for climate-change adaptation and mitigation, in the overseas countries and territories (OCTs). It is also eligible for funding from other European schemes, such as the InvestEU programme and the COSME sectoral programmes (competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs), the Connecting Europe Facility (improving connectivity in the EU), Creative Europe (support for the culture and audiovisual sectors), Erasmus+ (education/training/youth/sport), LIFE (environment and climate), and Horizon Europe (research and innovation).