"Promoting cohesion and development in the ORs"October 2017
In light of the elaboration of a new European strategy for the “outermost regions” (ORs), the Regional Development Commission of the European Parliament published a report in March 2017 to promote cohesion and development in the ORs by applying article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in an innovative and positive manner.
The ORs are fully integrated in the EU and assimilated into its legal order, but the permanence and the combination of an ensemble of factors (insularity, isolation, dependence on a small number of productions...) represent structural obstacles to their development, and in many cases, render impossible the standardised application of EU law. This is why article 349 TFEU provides for the principle of a right of adaptation of EU legislation in the fields of, among others, commercial, maritime, fishing, cohesion, competition, and environmental policy.
The report recommends that this approach is applied in other fields. Rather than integrating the specific dispositions for ORs in horizontal European programmes, the report recommends creating programmes, policies and funds specific to the ORs (research, transport, telecommunications, energy, blue growth).
Now a new European strategy needs to be elaborated for the ORs while taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by article 349 TFEU. This global common strategy must aim for the long-term and be accompanied by a specific legislative package, strategic frameworks and precise, adapted and achievable goals. The strategy must be based on an economic and social diagnostic of each OR, and must quantify the investment needed for rectifying structural deficiencies and allow the ORs to move closer to European average development levels.
The report regrets the lack of coherence between EU policies. For example, the efforts made by the ORs to modernise and boost the competitiveness of traditional sectors, on which the ORs’ economies are dependent, are undermined by the trade agreements negotiated by the EU with third countries exporting the same products. It would be preferable that impact studies on ORs were carried out systematically before beginning any trade negotiations.
On the other hand, the report calls for the EU to create a programme targeting the territorial continuity of the ORs, in order to reach the goal of free movement of citizens and businesses of the ORs within the EU. It also recommends deepening and making operational the existing mechanisms for promoting cross-border cooperation between the ORs and third countries in their geographic areas. More info