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International Partnerships
News announcement11 December 2020Directorate-General for International Partnerships

EU-Overseas Countries and Territories: a renewed partnership for 2021-27

Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, participates at the Virtual High-Level Round Table of the 18th annual Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) - EU forum.
European Union

At the 18th OCT-EU Forum yesterday, the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, held talks with Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and Member States on the achievements and future of the OCT-EU Partnership.

The high-level meeting comes at a pivotal moment, as the EU is gearing up for the future of its partnership with the OCTs for the period 2021-2027.

Speaking at the Forum, Commissioner Urpilainen said: “2020 is the culmination of the current 7-year period of special relationship between the OCTs and the EU. Now it is time to look ahead and forge a renewed and ambitious partnership between us.

She continued: “Faced with social, economic and environmental challenges, we share a vision of the future that is greener, more inclusive and more sustainable. Boosting the overall resilience of the OCTs will be the goal of our cooperation for 2021-2027, based on our joint priorities: the green deal, digitalisation, growth, jobs and education.

OCTA Chairman, Prime Minister of Curaçao H.E. Eugene Rhuggenaath said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a regrettable loss of human life, it has triggered a deep health, social and economic crisis with long-term effects on OCT citizens. It has also had detrimental effects on key sectors including tourism, connectivity, and public finances.

He continued: “The OCTs belong to the EU family; we share a mutually beneficial partnership. The OCTs play a geostrategic role with the immense Exclusive Economic Zone and marine resources, and with their exceptional biodiversity, the OCTs can become laboratories for innovation, helping to tackle global challenges. The OCTs welcome the EU support linked to the COVID-19 crisis. With ever-increasing cooperation, the OCTs and the EU can achieve great things.

OCT-EU working together to face unprecedented global challenges

The EU is working with the OCTs for mutual benefits and to promote EU values across the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Atlantic and the wider world.

The recent pandemic is having a severe socio-economic impact in the EU and in the OCTs islands. The EU has re-affirmed its strong commitment to the OCTs with the quick allocation of 110 million Euros to support their recovery effort.

Background information

The thirteen EU’s Overseas Countries and Territories, or OCTs, are located in the Atlantic, Antarctic, Arctic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. They have constitutional links to Denmark, France and the Netherlands. The annual OCT-EU Forum is the highest-level political instance bringing together all OCTs, the Member States to which they are linked and the EU. It is the culmination of twelve months of cooperation and political dialogue between the EU and OCTs.

The Covid crisis led to an unprecedented strain on the OCT economies, most of which have a high dependence on tourism. They also suffer from disrupted global supply chains with negative effects on their imports, especially food, and price & demand fluctuations for their main exports. As a result, structural socio-economic challenges (inequality, weak social frameworks) are likely to deepen, exposing the fragility of the most vulnerable groups. As part of the EU global response to COVID-19, OCTs are benefiting from reorientations of on-going programmes and front-loading of budget support operations, as well as mobilising all remaining emergency assistance funds to the total amount of EUR 110 million.

The 18th annual OCT-EU Forum was held for the first time as a virtual conference. Following Brexit, the Overseas Territories linked to the UK were no longer part of the Forum.


Publication date
11 December 2020
Directorate-General for International Partnerships