Special Member State territories and the European Union

Special Member State territories and the European Union

thumb|400px|">Map of European Union in the worldlegend|#078002|Overseas countries and territories

As of 2007 the European Union has 27 member states, most of which participate in all EU policy areas and programs or have signed up to do so. However EU law does not always apply evenly to all of the territory of all of the member states. Many member states have special territories which for either historical, geographical or political reasons have differing relationships with their national governments — and consequently also the European Union — than the rest of the member state's territory. Many of these special territories don't participate in all or any EU policy areas and programs. Some have no official relationship with the EU while others participate in EU programs in line with the provisions of European Union directives, regulations or protocols attached to the European Union treaties.

Outermost regions

Kourou, French Guiana] The outermost regions are seven regions of EU member states in which European Union law applies, but where derogations may apply to take account of their "structural social and economic situation ... which is compounded by their remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, economic dependence on a few products, the permanence and combination of which severely restrain their development."(Article 299(2)).

Azores and Madeira

Azores and Madeira are two groups of Portuguese islands in the Atlantic. While derogations from the application of EU law could apply, none do.

Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are a group of Spanish islands in the Atlantic. They are outside the European Union Value Added Tax AreaArticle 6 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 (as amended) on the common system of value added tax (OJ L 347, 11.12.2006, p. 1) [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32006L0112:EN:NOT] ] but otherwise EU law applies in its totality.

French overseas departments

French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion are French Overseas departments and under French law are, for the most part, treated as integral parts of the Republic. Each also forms a French Overseas region. The euro is legal tender and they are part of the European Union Customs Union.Article 3(1) of Council Regulation 2913/92/EEC of 12 October 1992 establishing the Community Customs Code (as amended) (OJ L 302, 19.10.1992, p. 1-50) [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31992R2913:EN:NOT] .] However they are outside the Schengen area, and the VAT area.

Overseas countries and territories

The overseas countries and territories are twenty one territories that have a special relationship with one of the member states of the EU: twelve with the United Kingdom, six with France, two with the Netherlands and one with Denmark. They were invited to form association agreements with the EU and may opt-in to EU provisions on freedom of movement for workers (Article 186) and freedom of establishment (Article 183(5)). They are not subject to the EU's common external tariff (Article 184(1)) but may claim customs on goods imported from the EU on a non-discriminatory basis (Article 184(3) and (5)). They are not part of the EU, and EU law applies to them only insofar is necessary to implement the association agreements.

British overseas territories

Twelve 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
* South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
* Turks and Caicos Islands

These are counted as Overseas Countries and Territories under the Treaty of Rome, except Bermuda, which was excluded from the scheme on its own request. [Paragraph 22 of the preamble to Council Decision 2001/822/EC of 27 November 2001 on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Community (OJ L 314, 30.11.2001, p. 1-77) [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:2001D0822:20011202:EN:PDF] .]

All citizens of the British overseas territories — including those connected to Bermuda, but excluding those connected to Britain's sovereign bases in Cyprus — were granted full British citizenship by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002. They are consequently citizens of the European Union.

This is, however, moot in relation to the British Antarctic Territory and the British Indian Ocean Territory, as neither of these has a permanent population. The native inhabitants of the latter were forcibly removed in the 1970s to make way for an American military base.

French overseas collectivities and New Caledonia

Mayotte, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna and French Southern and Antarctic Lands (which now includes the French Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean) are "overseas collectivities" (formerly referred to as overseas territories) of France, while New Caledonia is a "sui generis collectivity".

Mayotte and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon are both part of the Eurozone, [By virtue of Council Decision 1999/95/EC of 31 December 1998 concerning the monetary arrangements in the French territorial communities of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and Mayotte (OJ L 30, 4.2.1999, p. 29-30) [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:1999:030:0029:0030:EN:PDF] .] while New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna use the Franc Pacifique, a currency which is tied to the Euro.

Natives of the collectivities are European citizens owing to their French citizenship and elections to the European Parliament are held in the collectivities, a point which has little impact on the French Southern and Antarctic Lands which is uninhabited other than a few scientific bases.

Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin became independent of Guadeloupe on 22 February 2007, and have become overseas collectives. If and when the Treaty of Lisbon becomes effective (ratification process still under way) those two overseas collectives will change their status to that of an outermost region. [citeweb|url=http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:306:0042:0133:EN:PDF|title=Treaty of Lisbon, Article 2, points 287 and 293|accessdate=2008-01-31]


Greenland is a special case among the overseas countries and territories as it is the only one which was once part of Union (then called the European Community) before they voted to leave in 1982. Greenlanders are, nonetheless, full European Union citizens owing to their Danish citizenship.

Netherlands Antilles and Aruba

Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are autonomous parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. They are excluded from the operation of EU law by reason of a protocol attached to the Treaty of Rome, but they are counted as overseas territories. The inhabitants of the islands are EU citizens owing to their Dutch nationality, but most of them were not, until recently, entitled to vote in European Parliamentary Elections. This has been recently ruled to be contrary to EU law by the European Court of Justice as Dutch citizens resident outside the EU, other than those resident in either the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, were entitled to vote in the Dutch elections to the European Parliament.

The Netherlands Antilles are currently in a phase of reform: on 15 December 2008, the Netherlands Antilles was planned to be dissolved (but now postponed to an undetermined date) and replaced by the two overseas autonomous countries of Curaçao and Sint Maarten on the one hand, and the three Dutch municipalities of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius on the other hand. The latter three will have to apply most of Dutch law and could then opt to become an outermost region of the EU if they so wished.

pecial cases

While the outermost regions and the overseas counties and territories fall into structured categories to which common mechanisms apply, this is not true of all the special territories. Some territories enjoy ad-hoc arrangements in their relationship with the EU. Some of these could be called "protocol territories" as their status is governed by protocols attached to their respective countries' accession treaties. The rest owe their states to European Union legislative provisions which exclude the territories from the application of the legislation concerned. Many opt out from either the VAT area or the customs union or both.

Åland Islands

Åland, a group of Swedish-speaking Finnish islands off the Swedish coast, joined the EU along with Finland in 1995. The islands had a separate referendum on accession and like the Finnish mainland voted in favour.

While most EU law applies to Åland it is outside the VAT area and is exempt from common rules in relation to turnover taxes, excise duties and indirect taxation. There are also restrictions on the freedom of movement of people and services, the right of establishment, and the purchase or holding of real estate in Åland. [Protocol 2 (on the Åland Islands) of the Finnish accession treaty (OJ C 241, 29.08.1994) [http://www.eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/dat/11994N/htm/11994N.html] .]

Büsingen am Hochrhein

The German exclave town of Büsingen am Hochrhein, fully surrounded by Switzerland, is in customs union with the latter non-EU country. [Treaty of 23 November 1964 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Swiss Confederation on the inclusion of the commune of Büsingen am Hochrhein in the customs territory of the Swiss Confederation, as referred to in Article 3(1) of Council Regulation 2913/92/EEC of 12 October 1992 establishing the Community Customs Code (as amended) (OJ L 302, 19.10.1992, p. 1-50) [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31992R2913:EN:NOT] .] The euro is legal tender, although the Swiss franc is preferred. Büsingen is excluded from the EU customs union and VAT area. Swiss VAT and sales taxes are paid. [German Wikipedia about Büsingen am Hochrhein]

Campione d'Italia and Livigno

The Italian enclave village of Campione d'Italia is totally surrounded by Switzerland's Ticino (Tessin) canton as well as Lake Lugano (Lake Ceresio) and is in the Province of Como, whilst Livigno, a small and remote mountain resort town, is in the Italian province of Sondrio. Although part of the EU, they are excluded from the customs union and VAT area, with Livigno's tax status dating back to Napoleonic times.

Ceuta and Melilla

Ceuta and Melilla are two Spanish enclaves on the Moroccan coast. They are excluded from the common agricultural and fisheries policies. They are also outside the customs union and VAT area, but no customs are levied on goods exported from the Union into either Ceuta and Melilla, and certain goods originating in Ceuta and Melilla are exempt from customs charges.

The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man

Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are British Crown dependencies, the former two being just off the French coast and the latter being in the middle of the Irish Sea. The islands take part in the EU freedom of movement of goods but not people, services or capital. The Channel Islands are outside the VAT area (since they have no VAT), while the Isle of Man is inside it. Both are inside the customs union.

Channel Islanders and Manx people are British citizens and hence European citizens. [s 1 of the "British Nationality Act 1981" grants citizenship to (most) people born in the 'United Kingdom'. s 50 of the Act defines the 'United Kingdom' to include the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man] However, they are not entitled to take advantage of the freedom of movement of people or services unless they are directly connected (through birth, descent from a parent or grandparent, or five years' residence) with the United Kingdom. [Protocol 3 of the United Kingdom's succession treaty to the EU (OJ L 73, 27.03.1972).]


Although the whole island became part of the European Union on 1 May 2004, EU law only applies to the southern part of the island, which is controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus. EU law is suspended in the northern third of the island,Article 1(1) of Protocol 10 of the Cypriot accession treaty (OJ L 236, 23.9.2003, p. 955) [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2003:236:0931:0956:EN:PDF] .] the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognised only by Turkey). Turkish Cypriots living there are nonetheless European citizens and are entitled, at least in principle, to vote in elections to the European Parliament; however, elections to that Parliament are not held in northern Cyprus.

United Kingdom sovereign bases

The United Kingdom has two sovereign bases on Cyprus, namely Akrotiri and Dhekelia. Unlike other British overseas territories, they are not listed as Overseas Countries and Territories under the Treaty of Rome and their inhabitants (who are entitled to British Overseas Territories Citizenship) have never been entitled to British citizenship.

Prior to Cypriot accession to the EU in 2004, EU law did not apply to the sovereign bases (Article 299(6) (b)). This position was changed by the Cypriot accession treaty and EU law, while still not applying in principle, applies to the extent necessary to implement a protocol attached to that treaty. [Protocol 3 of the Cypriot accession treaty (OJ L 236, 23.9.2003, p. 955) [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2003:236:0931:0956:EN:PDF] .] In practice this protocol applies a substantial portion of EU law to the sovereign bases including provisions relative to agricultural policy, customs and indirect taxation. The UK also agreed in the Protocol to keep enough control of the external (i.e. off-island and northern Cyprus) borders of the sovereign bases to ensure that the border between the sovereign bases and the Republic of Cyprus can remain fully open and will not have to be policed as an external EU border. Consequently the sovereign bases will become a "de facto" part of the Schengen Area if and when Cyprus implements it. The bases are already "de facto" members of the Eurozone due to their previous use of the Cypriot pound before it was replaced by the euro in 2008.

As pointed out above, inhabitants of the sovereign bases have never been entitled to British citizenship or the European Union citizenship that would go with it."British Overseas Territories Act 2002".] However, apart from those temporarily living there in connection with the British forces, the majority of the inhabitants are nationals of the Republic of CyprusFact|date=July 2007 and therefore European citizens.

The Green line

The Green Line is a United Nations buffer line between north and south Cyprus patrolled by UN troops. While the Cyprus protocol Union divides the island into those areas controlled by the government of the Republic and those not, it is not clear whether the green line should be considered part of the former or the latter areas and consequently whether EU law applies to the green line.

Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are not part of the EU, and Danish nationals residing in the Faroe Islands are not to be considered as nationals of a member state within the meaning of the treaties or, consequently, citizens of the European Union. One of the curious upshots of this is that if Faroe Islanders move to the Union (as opposed to just going there on holiday) they become EU citizens capable of exercising the right of freedom of movement as they would no longer be resident in the Faroe Islands.Fact|date=April 2008


Gibraltar is a British exclave bordering Spain on the coast near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It is part of the EU, having joined the European Economic Community with the United Kingdom in 1973. Article 299(4) applies the treaty to "the European territories for whose external relations a Member State is responsible" a provision, which in practice only applies to Gibraltar. Notwithstanding its being part of the EU, Gibraltar is outside the customs union and VAT area and is excluded from the Common Agricultural Policy.

Owing to a declaration lodged by the United Kingdom with the EEC in 1982 Gibraltarians were to be counted as British nationals for the purposes of Community law. This was notwithstanding that they were not, at the time, British citizens but were instead British Overseas Territories citizens. As such Gibraltarians enjoyed European Union citizenship from its creation in the Maastricht Treaty. All Gibraltarians have since been granted full British citizenship.

Despite their status as EU citizens resident in the EU, elections to the European Parliament were not held in Gibraltar until 2004. Its inclusion can be said, at least in part, to relate to the European Court of Human Rights' ruling in "Matthews v. United Kingdom" which deemed that Gibraltar's exclusion violated Article 3 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights. In the 2004 European Parliament election the territory was deemed to be part of the South West England constituency of the United Kingdom.

The Schengen police cooperation rules apply in Gibraltar, although Gibraltar does not form part of the control-free travel area, and border checks are still performed at the border between Gibraltar and Spain. [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32000D0365:EN:HTML 2000/365/EC: Council Decision of 29 May 2000 concerning the request of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to take part in some of the provisions of the Schengen acquis] ]


Heligoland is a German island situated 70 km (44 miles) off the German north-western coast. It is part of the EU, but is excluded from the customs union and the VAT area.

Mount Athos

Mount Athos is an autonomous monastic region of Greece. Greece's EU accession treaty provides that Mount Athos maintains its centuries-old special legal status. [cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/13520.stm |title=Monks see Schengen as Devil's work |accessdate=2007-10-14 |date=26 October 1997 |publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation ] It is part of the customs union but outside the VAT area. With respect to the access restrictions, a special permit is required to enter the peninsula, and a prohibition on the entry of women is applied; the Schengen rules are, as a result, superseded by the Athos status laws. [When Greece joined the Schengen area, Mount Athos was subjected to a binding declaration guaranteeing its special status. (Joint declaration no. 5 attached to the final act of the Agreement on the accession of the Hellenic Republic to the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985. [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:42000A0922(06):EN:NOT] ).]

aimaa Canal and Malyj Vysotskij Island

Finland leases a Part of Saimaa Canal and the island of Malyj Vysotskij from Russia. Russian law is in force, with a few exceptions concerning maritime rules and the employment of canal staff, which fall under Finnish jurisdiction. There are also special rules concerning vessels travelling to Finland via the canal. Russian visas are not required for just passing through the canal, but a passport is needed and it is checked at the border. Euros are accepted for the canal fees. The area is not part of the EU; it is a special part of Russia.

aint Barthélemy and Saint Martin

Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin were broken away on 22 February 2007 from the French Overseas Department of Guadeloupe to be formed into two new collectivities. A French parliamentary report noted that they would have to change from being part of an "outermost region" to being "overseas countries or territories", [Rapport d'information n° 329 (2004-2005) de MM. Jean-Jacques HYEST, Christian COINTAT et Simon SUTOUR, fait au nom de la commission des lois, déposé le 10 mai 2005 (French Senate report; in French). [http://www.senat.fr/rap/r04-329/r04-32915.html] ] and that changes to the treaties would have be sought by the French government. European Commission's documents listed both territories as not part of the territory of the European Community [ [http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/kimb/docs/trading_guidelines0108_en.pdf] ] In the interim the only things which appear to be clear are that both still continue to use the euro (the currency of Guadeloupe) as legal tender, and that they are outside the Schengen Area (as only metropolitan France is included) and the customs union. [This is owing to Article 3 of Council Regulation 2913/92/EEC of 12 October 1992 establishing the Community Customs Code (as amended) (OJ L 302, 19.10.1992, p. 1-50) [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31992R2913:EN:NOT] , as it excludes all of the collectivities from the Union's customs territory without referring to any by name, thus automatically excluding any new ones.] The Treaty of Lisbon mentions both Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin as outermost regions. [Article 2(289) and (293) of the current draft (October 2007). [http://consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/cg00001re01en.pdf] ]

Clipperton Island

The uninhabited overseas territory of Clipperton Island has the dubious distinction of being the only overseas possession of a member state — France — that is not, either directly or indirectly, referred to in the treaties.Fact|date=June 2008 Consequently, it is not clear whether the treaties apply to this island or, if they do, to what degree they apply.

On 21 February 2007, the administration of Clipperton Island was transferred from the High Commissioner of the Republic in French Polynesia to the Minister of Overseas France. While it is not clear whether EU treaties apply there, this has few ramifications as it is entirely uninhabited.

Article 199 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (the Treaty of Rome) states that the treaty applies to the French Republic. [ [http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:12006E299:EN:HTML EUR-Lex - 12006E299 - EN ] ] Since Clipperton Island is not explicitly mentioned in annex II to the treaty, this could suggest that all EU treaties apply to Clipperton Island in full. [ [http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/lex/en/treaties/dat/12002E/htm/C_2002325EN.015901.html Celex Test ] ]

Former special territories

Many currently independent states or parts of such were previously territories of the following EU members:
* France (with multiple territories)
* United Kingdom (with multiple territories, from 1973 enlargement)
* Netherlands (with multiple territories, from ECSC formation)
* Portugal (with Macau, from 1986 enlargement until 1999)
* Belgium (with Belgian Congo, from ECSC formation until 1960)
* Italy (with Italian Somaliland, from ECSC formation until 1960)Some of these were:
* Algeria (gained independence from France in 1962)
* Belize (gained independence from the UK in 1981)
* Brunei (British protectorate status ended in 1984)
* French Somaliland (gained independence as Djibouti in 1977)
* Hong Kong (lease from China ended and sovereignty transferred to the PRC in 1997)
* Macau (sovereignty transferred from Portugal to the PRC in 1999)
* the Maldives (gained independence from the UK in 1965)
* Netherlands Guiana (gained independence from the Netherlands as Suriname in 1975)
* the New Hebrides (gained independence from France and the UK as Vanuatu in 1980)
* Saint Kitts and Nevis (gained independence from the UK in 1983)

Another similar case is when a EU member states was not executing its authority in practice, but was "de jure" considered governing some territory. Such are the following cases:
* East Timor, "de jure" under Portugal administration until independence in 2002, "de facto" under Indonesian occupation since 1975 (thus before Portugal's admission into the EU in 1986).
* Western Sahara, according to the UN "de jure" still considered under Spanish administration (but according to Spain "de jure" independent of Spain), "de facto" most of it occupied by Morocco and the rest from the Sahrawi Republic since 1976 (thus before Spain's admission into the EU in 1986).

Additionally in Europe there were such special territories in the past that had different status than their "mainland", because of various reasons. Some of these territories were as follows.

Kleinwalsertal and Jungholz

The Austrian areas of Kleinwalsertal and Jungholz formerly enjoyed a special legal status. The two areas have road access only to Germany, and not directly to other parts of Austria. They were in customs and currency union with Germany and there were no border controls between Kleinwalsertal and Jungholz, respectively, and Germany. When Austria entered the EU (and its customs union) in 1995, the customs union became defunct. The entry into force of the Schengen Agreement for Austria (1997) and the introduction of the euro (2002) caused Kleinwalsertal and Jungholz to lose their remaining legal privileges. It is now legally treated in the same manner as the rest of Austria.


This table summarises the various components of EU laws applied in the EU member states and their sovereign territories.

Third country relationships with the EU

This table summarises the various components of EU laws applied in third countries and their sovereign territories.See also Third country economic relationships with the European Union.

ee also

*Dependent territory
*Elections in the European Union
*European Union Association Agreement
*History of the European Union
*Law of the European Union
*List of European Union-related topics
*Member State of the European Union
*Microstates and the European Union
*Third country relationships with the European Union
*Withdrawal from the European Union

External links

* [http://www.europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/r12300.htm Information on the "Overseas countries and territories" from the European Commission]


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