The OCTs are located in the Atlantic, Antarctic, Arctic, Caribbean and Pacific regions. All are islands, and one of them has no permanent population. They are not sovereign countries but depend to varying degrees on the three Member States with which they maintain special links, namely Denmark, France and the Netherlands. The OCTs have wide-ranging autonomy, covering areas such as economic affairs, employment market, public health, home affairs and customs, while defence and foreign affairs usually remain within the remit of the Member States.
OCTs around the world
Aruba is a tropical island in the Southern Caribbean, about 24 km from the coast of South America. Its surface area is 180 km2 and its population 112 190 (2019). Together with Curaçao and Bonaire it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. The official languages are Dutch and Papiamento. The European Union programmes aim to support EU policies and they are implemented through the Multiannual Financial Framework (currently on the 2021-2027 period).
Bonaire is an island in the South-Eastern part of the Caribbean, about 80 km from off the coast of Venezuela. Its surface area is 294 km2 and its population 20 104 (2019). Together with Curaçao and Aruba it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. The official language is Dutch. From the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010, the BES islands (Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius) were given the status of public entity (often referred to as “special municipality”) within the Netherlands, while the islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, just like Aruba. Bonaire is part of the Netherlands and an overseas territory of the European Union. The Executive Council is responsible for the day-to-day management of Bonaire.
Located in the Caribbean Sea, north off Venezuela, with an area of 444 km², Curaçao is the largest Dutch Overseas Territory. Its population is 142,180 and the capital is Willemstad. Within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao has country status alongside the Netherlands, Aruba and Sint-Maarten. Tourism, oil refining, and international finance are the mainstays of Curaçao's small economy which has close links with neighbouring countries. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper agricultural development.
French Polynesia is an overseas collectivity attached to the French Republic and associated with the European Union as an overseas country or territory (OCT), as provided for in Articles 198 to 204 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. French Polynesia is made up of more than 120 islands, including Tahiti, where the administrative capital, Papeete, is situated. It is located in the South Pacific and comprises about half of France’s marine waters (5 million square kilometres). Its economy relies on the services sector, fishing and pearl cultivation. The standard of living is comparable to European countries. French Polynesia has been a beneficiary of the European Development Fund (EDF) for almost 60 years.
French Southern and Antarctic Territories
The French Southern and Antarctic Territories (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, TAAF), located in the southern hemisphere, are characterized by a remarkable natural heritage. They are home to rich and diverse marine ecosystems, which play a significant role in the local mitigation of the effects of climate change. In this respect, the TAAF represent an exceptional opportunity to meet the commitments made by France and the EU at various levels in terms of marine biodiversity protection and sustainable management of resources. The European Union programmes aim to support EU policies and they are implemented through the Multiannual Financial Framework (currently on the 2021-2027 period).
Strategically located between the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean, Greenland is, as part of the Kingdom of Denmark, an Overseas Territory associated with the EU. It is the world’s largest island (20% of the total EU surface). With a population of around 56,000 people, it has globally the lowest population density (one inhabitant per 35 km2). Dramatic exposure to climate change (the ice sheet is melting at the fastest rate of the last 120 centuries) and a lack of economic diversification (strong dependency on fisheries and the public sector), pose both immediate and long-term challenges for Greenland’s sustainable development. EU cooperation with Greenland is framed by Part IV of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and by Council Decision (EU) 2021/1764 of 5 October 2021 on the Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories with the European Union including relations between the European Union on the one hand, and Greenland and the Kingdom of Denmark on the other (Decision on the Overseas Association including Greenland, DOAG).
New Caledonia is an overseas collectivity attached to the French Republic and associated with the European Union as an overseas country or territory (OCT), as provided for in Articles 198 to 204 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Two thirds of New Caledonia’s inhabitants live in the urban area of the capital, Nouméa. Its ground resources (nickel), financial transfers from the state and the European Union and local policies have enabled it to achieve a high level of development. Its internal organisation is governed by the Nouméa Accord.
Saba is located in the Leeward islands, 28 miles south of Saint Martin, in the Caribbean Sea. Its surface area is 13 km2 and its population 1 915 (2019).The official languages are Dutch and English. Saba, became a public body (often referred to as “special municipality”) of the Netherlands, along with St. Eustatius and Bonaire, after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October. The legislative body of Saba is called the Island Council, which consists of 5 members elected every four years.
Saint-Barthelemy is located at the junction of the Greater and Lesser Antilles, 230 km northwest of Guadeloupe and 25 km southeast of Saint-Martin. Its surface area is 21 km2 (25 km2 islets included) and its population 9 793 (2018). The official language is French. The economy of Saint Barthelemy is based upon high-end tourism and duty-free luxury commerce, serving visitors primarily from North America. The luxury hotels and villas host 70,000 visitors each year with another 130,000 arriving by boat.
St. Eustatius (also called Statia) is located in the north-eastern Caribbean, 50 km south of St. Maarten and 300 km east of Puerto Rico. Its surface area is 31 km2 and its population 3 138 (2019). The official languages are Dutch and English. The Netherlands Antilles ceased to exist with the constitutional reform of 2010. As a result, Curaçao and St Maarten became countries within the Kingdom while Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius (BES islands) became special municipalities of the Netherlands who the Dutch government are responsible for. The executive power of the Public Entity of St. Eustatius rests with the Island Council, which is headed by an Island Governor, and is responsible for that island’s day-to-day governance. Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the island has revaluated its strategies to prepare for and recover from energy, water and food system outages solar energy covers. As a result, 46% of St. Eustatius’ total electricity need is now covered by solar energy.
Sint Maarten is located in the North Eastern Caribbean approximately 140 miles from Puerto Rico. Its surface area is 41 km2 and its population 40 614 (2018). The official languages are Dutch and English. The island is divided in two, Saint Martin (French) and Sint Maarten (Dutch) and is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two independent states, France and The Netherlands. The island has low elevations and hilly terrain with the lowest point being the Caribbean Sea and the highest point being Mount William, 386 meters. St. Maarten is irregular in form because of the many bays and lagoons. Steep rocky coasts alternate with sandy beaches. Sint Maarten is one of four autonomous countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, St Maarten). The political structure of Sint Maarten consists of a Council of Ministers, headed by a Governor appointed by and representing the Queen. The Hon. Prime Minister leads and chairs the Council of Ministers, which is composed of seven ministers. The island is a parliamentary democracy with a 15-member parliament. Members of Parliament are elected for a four-year term. The economy of the island is solely based on tourism. Sint Maarten receives approximately two million tourists yearly.
St. Pierre and Miquelon
Located south of the Canadian island of Newfoundland and Labrador, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is the last territory of the French Republic in North America, in an area that has long been strategic for its fisheries resources. The economic and demographic balance of this archipelago has been profoundly challenged by the collapse of the fishing industry (total exports dropped by 98% between 1991 and 1993). After a historical decrease in population in the 2000s due to net migration, the population has stabilized in the 2010s at around 6,000 inhabitants (the drop in the birth rate is partly offset by new arrivals). The European Union programmes aim to support EU policies and they are implemented through the Multiannual Financial Framework (currently on the 2021-2027 period).
Wallis and Futuna
The Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands is an overseas collectivity attached to the French Republic and associated with the European Union as an overseas country or territory (OCT), as provided for in Articles 198 to 204 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. 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.