Special member state territories and their relations with the EU

From Academic Kids

Two parts of the treaty of the European Community deal with special relationships: Article 299 which sets out the territories to which the treaty applies, supplemented by the accession treaties; and Articles 182-188 and Annex II on association with the non-European countries and territories which have special relations with the member states.

The outermost regions are 7 regions (4 in France, 2 in Portugal, 1 in Spain) where EC law applies, but where it is possible to derogate to common EC legislation to take account of their remoteness.

The overseas countries and territories (OCTs) are 21 countries that have a special relationship with one of the Member States of the European Community: 12 with the UK, 6 with France, 2 with the Netherlands, 1 with Denmark. Together with other countries they benefit from the European Development Fund (EDF) [1] (http://europa.eu.int/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/r12300.htm), not the Regional policy.



Northern part of the island

Although the whole island became part of the European Union on 1 May 2004, EU legislation applies only to the Greek (southern) part of the island (Republic of Cyprus). EU legislation is suspended in the Turkish northern part of the island, also known as the internationally non-recognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, after a referendum on reunion failed in the south. Nationals of the Republic of Cyprus living there are nonetheless fully European citizens and were entitled to vote at European Parliament election 2004 (though only a few hundred registered).

Buffer zone

Protocol 10 annexed to the treaty of accession of Cyprus to the European Union divides the island into those areas controlled by the government of the Republic and those not. It is a moot point whether anyone but the UN controls the UN buffer zone, as the zone is uninhabited, apart from the one mixed Greek and Turkish village — Pyla, east of Larnaka. According to the Protocol the Council of the European Union "shall define the terms under which the provisions of EU law shall apply to the line between those areas referred to in Article 1 [i.e. northern Cyprus] and the areas in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus exercises effective control". However, this mainly refers to whether the line is treated as an external border of the EU for the purposes of imports and immigration, and so governs what happens at the four crossing points rather than inside the buffer zone.

UK sovereign bases on Cyprus

For UK sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, see underneath under "United Kingdom". Xylotymbou (http://www.xylotymbou.com/) and Ormidhia are Cypriot enclaves within the Dhekelia base, and are therefore part of the EU.


Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are not part of the EU, as explicitly asserted by both Rome treaties. Moreover, a protocol to the treaty of accession of Denmark to the European Communities stipulates that Danish nationals residing in the Faroe Islands are not to be considered as Danish nationals within the meaning of the treaties. Hence, Danish people living in the Faroes are not citizens of the European Union.


Greenland is not a member of the European Union. When the original Danish referendum on EEC membership took place, Greenland was still an integrated part of Denmark and had no home rule. The results in Greenland showed a majority of 70% against joining the EEC. However, since the referendum was won in the whole country, the territory joined along with the rest of Denmark.

After the establishment of Greenland's home rule in 1979 (effective from 1980), a new referendum on membership was held, where the people decided to leave the community. On February 1, 1985, Greenland left the EEC and EURATOM.

Danish nationals residing in Greenland are nonetheless fully European citizens; they are not, however, entitled to vote in European elections.


Åland Islands

The Åland Islands held a separate referendum from Finland to join the EU. The vote was in support, hence Åland also joined the union with Finland. The legal currency is the Euro.

Åland is outside the EU tax union. Special provisions apply for the purchase of real estate, the right of carrying on business and Value added tax VAT. The status of Åland under international law is acknowledged. In addition, a note in the protocol confirms Åland's special status under international law.


French overseas departments and overseas regions

The four territories of Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Réunion are at the same time overseas departments and mono-departmental overseas regions. According to the EC treaty (article 299 2), overseas departements are outermost regions; provisions of the EC treaty apply there while derogations are allowed. Hence the euro is legal tender, and these four areas are depicted beneath the map of Europe on Euro banknotes. They are outside the EU VAT area.

French overseas collectivities and New Caledonia

The four territories of Mayotte, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna are overseas collectivities while New Caledonia is a collectivity sui generis. As concerns the EU treaty, all five are among the OCTs enumerated in Annex II, which means that EU law does not apply there. However, since the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community applies to the European territories of Member States and to non-European territories under their jurisdiction, EURATOM legislation does apply.

By virtue of Council Decision 1999/95/EC, the euro is the currency of Mayotte and of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. In New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna, the currency is the franc Pacifique (XPF), tied to the euro (1000 XPF = 8,38 EUR) (a protocol annexed to the Treaty of Rome by the Maastricht treaty has confirmed the privilege of monetary emission for France in its overseas territories).

French nationals related to these collectivities are fully European citizens, and European elections are also organized in these collectivities.

French Southern Territories

Though there is no permanent population, the French Southern Territories are the sixth and last French territory enumerated in the Annex II of the EC treaty. Hence what has been said above for French overseas collectivities applies there (though of course there are no European elections here).

According to the ECB euro faq (http://www.ecb.int/bc/faqbc/circulation/html/index.en.html#legal-tender), the euro is legal tender but there does not seem to be any legal foundation to this affirmation. Furthermore, several countries do not recognize the French claim to "Adelie Land" in Antarctica, and France's territorial claim is suspended in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty System.

Other unpopulated islands

Since the Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean and Clipperton Island are not enumerated in Annex II of the EC treaty, their legal position in relation to the Community seems rather unclear.


Büsingen am Hochrhein

The German enclave town of Büsingen am Hochrhein is in customs union with Switzerland. The Euro is legal tender, although the Swiss Franc is preferred. Büsingen is excluded from the EU VAT area.

Island of Heligoland

Heligoland is part of the EU, but is excluded from the EU VAT area and customs union.


Mount Athos

Mount Athos in Greece is outside EU VAT area.


Campione d'Italia

The enclave town of Campione d'Italia is part of Italy, but is in customs union with Switzerland. The Swiss franc is legal tender, but the euro is accepted. This town is excluded from EU fiscal VAT area.

Livigno comune

Livigno is excluded from EU VAT area. The Euro is legal tender.


Netherlands Antilles and Aruba

Though they are parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are overseas countries and territories, listed under Annex II of the EC treaty. Hence EC law does not apply there. The euro is not legal tender (the local currencies – Antillean guilder and Aruba florin – are pegged to the U.S. dollar).

Dutch nationals related to these territories are fully European citizens; however, Dutch citizens residing in Netherlands Antilles or Aruba are normally not entitled to vote at European elections. Exceptions are made for 1) Dutch citizens who lived in the European part of the Netherlands for at least ten years and 2) Dutch citizens who work for the Dutch government (the government for the whole Kingdom, not the Antillean or Aruban government) and their partners and children.


Azores and Madeira

According to the EC treaty (article 299 2), Azores and Madeira are outermost regions; provisions of the EC treaty apply there while derogations are allowed. Hence the euro is legal tender. Both places pay VAT taxes.


Canary Islands

According to the EC treaty (article 299 2), Canary Islands constitute an outermost region; provisions of the EC treaty apply there while derogations are allowed. Hence the euro is legal tender. Full EU law applies on the Canary Islands, but with special tax provisions (outside EU VAT Area).

Ceuta and Melilla

Full EU law applies in Ceuta and Melilla, but some exceptions have been made by a protocol annexed to the treaty of accession of Spain to the Communities (notably agricultural policy and fisheries policy do not apply there). They are also excluded from EU VAT area.

United Kingdom

Crown dependencies

The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of the United Kingdom, and are excluded from EU legislation (unless otherwise stated) by both treaties of Rome as amended in 1973 by British accession.

As stipulated by a protocol to the treaty of accession of the United Kingdom, they are part of the Customs union.

British citizens of these islands are European citizens if they have either at least one grandparent born in the United Kingdom, or have acquired European citizenship through residency in the European Union. However, a protocol to the treaty of accession of the United Kingdom stipulates that Channel Islanders or Manx people who are not European citizens shall not benefit from provisions relating to the free movement of persons and services. A resident of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man is normally not entitled to vote in European elections.


Gibraltar is part of the EU, having joined the EEC with the UK in 1973: by a special provision the EU treaty applies to the European territories for whose external relations a Member State is responsible; in practice Gibraltar is the only territory covered by this clause.

A common declaration by Spain and the UK is annexed to the Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe. This declaration reads as follows:

"The Treaty establishing the Constitution applies to Gibraltar as a European territory for whose external relations a Member State is responsible. This shall not imply changes in the respective positions of the Member States concerned."

As negotiated by the UK at the request of Gibraltar's government, some EU laws do not extend to Gibraltar. Due to various dispositions of the treaty of accession of the UK to the Communities:

  • Gibraltar is outside the EU's customs territory.
  • Exclusion from EU's agricultural policies.
  • Exclusion from VAT harmonization.
  • No part of Gibraltar's customs revenue goes to the EU.

For trade, Gibraltar is de facto seen as an external country by the community. The euro is not legal tender, but it is accepted informally.

British nationals settled there are British Overseas Territories Citizens related to Gibraltar. As such, they are full EU citizens, according to a 1982 declaration by the United Kingdom.

Gibraltar was excluded from the elections to the European Parliament by a special disposition of the Treaty organizing these elections by direct suffrage, but this disposition was successfully challenged before the European Court of Human Rights. As a consequence of this decision, Gibraltarians could vote at European Parliament election 2004, when the territory was deemed to be part of the South West England region of the United Kingdom.

Sovereign bases on Cyprus

Article 299(6)(b) of the EC treaty defines the status of the UK sovereign base areas on Cyprus. While they were formerly totally outside the scope of EC law, their legal situation has been modified since the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. The EC treaty now stipulates that This Treaty shall not apply to the United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus except to the extent necessary to ensure the implementation of the arrangements set out in the Protocol on the Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Cyprus (...) and in accordance with the terms of that Protocol.

The rather lengthy Protocol N°3 (http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/treaties/dat/L_2003236EN/L2003236EN.093100.htm) referred to by the treaty makes appliable to the Sovereign bases on Cyprus various slices of EU law, for instance provisions relative to agricultural policy, customs and indirect taxation. The UK agrees in the Protocol to keep enough control of the external borders of the SBAs to mean that the SBA-Cyprus boundary can remain fully open without Cyprus having to police it as an external EU border.

Apart from those temporarily living there in connection with the British forces, the majority of the inhabitants are nationals of the Republic of Cyprus and are therefore now European citizens. Very few people now have British Overseas Territories Citizenship by virtue of a connection with the SBAs, and even fewer if any BOTCs do not have Cypriot nationality. SBA-derived BOTC status is the only form of BOTC status which has not now converted to full British Citizenship. It therefore still gives neither right of abode in Britain nor EU citizenship – the reasoning being that the permanent Cypriot population are treated as Cypriots instead, and the UK agreed in 1960 not to settle British Citizens permanently in the SBAs.

Other overseas territories

The twelve other overseas territories of the United Kingdom (namely Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena and Dependencies, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands) are listed under Annex II of the EU treaty. Hence EC law does not apply there. Since these territories are not under British jurisdiction, EURATOM legislation does not apply either.

British nationals settled there are British Overseas Territories Citizens not related to Gibraltar, and as such are not European citizens.

Territories sorted by level of inclusion in the European Union

This list classifies territories under sovereignty of a EU member state by level of enforceability of EC law in this territory.

EC law fully in force

EC law in force, with some exemptions

EC law not in force, but some chapters apply

EC law not in force but statute of association with the EC

EC law not enforceable at all


See also


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