As of 2007 the European Union has 27 Member States, most of which participate in all EU policy areas and programmes 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 programmes in line with the provisions of European Union directives, regulations or protocols attached to the European Union treaties.
The outermost regions are seven regions of EU Member States which are part of the EU. However according to the EC Treaty there might be some exceptions, the European Union law applies with possible derogations 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 ...".
The Canary Islands are a group of Spanish islands off the African coast. They are outside the European Union Value Added Tax Area (because of their low VAT, 5%) but otherwise EU law applies in its totality.
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. However they are outside the Schengen area and the VAT area.
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.
Twelve overseas territories of the United Kingdom, namely:
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 and are consequently citizens of the European Union. This includes the former inhabitants of the British Indian Ocean Territory, who were forcibly removed in the 1970s to make way for an American military base.
Mayotte, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna 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, while New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna use the CFP Franc, a currency which is tied to the euro and guaranteed by France. Natives of the collectivities are European citizens owing to their French citizenship and elections to the European Parliament are held in the collectivities.
The uninhabited French Southern and Antarctic Lands (which now includes the French Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean) and Clipperton Island have sui generis statuses within France. Both have had OCT status within the European Community since the Treaty of Rome, Clipperton Island as part of the "French Settlements in Oceania", and both now (formally) use the euro as their currency.
On 22 February 2007, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin were broken away from the overseas department of Guadeloupe to be formed into two new overseas collectivities. As a consequence their status is not currently mentioned in the treaties and their current status is ambiguous
A French parliamentary report noted that Saint Barthélemy would probably have to change from being an "outermost region" to OCT status, and that changes to the treaties might have to be sought by the French government and the two new collectivities. Documents from the European Commission already list both territories as not part of the European Community, although the Treaty of Lisbon mentions them explicitly as outermost regions.
Greenland is a special case among the overseas countries and territories as it is the only one which was once part of the 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.
The 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. On 1 September 2009, Saba announced it withdrew from the Netherlands Antilles effectively immediately.[12 ] However, according to Dutch State Secretary Bijleveld for Kingdom Relations, it is at this moment not legally possible for Saba to become independent from the Antilles.
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, a group of islands belonging to Finland, but with partial autonomy, located between Sweden and Finland, with a Swedish-speaking population, 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.
The German exclave town of Büsingen am Hochrhein, fully surrounded by Switzerland, is in customs union with the latter non-EU country. 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.
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. Moreover, legal tender in Campione d'Italia is the Swiss Franc, even with the euro widely accepted.
Ceuta and Melilla are two Spanish cities on the North African 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.
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 (as they were defined in 1972, when UK joined the European Communities, now Jersey and Guernsey) are outside the VAT area (since they have no VAT), while the Isle of Man is inside it. Both areas are inside the customs union.
Channel Islanders and Manx people are British citizens and hence European citizens. 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.
When the Republic of Cyprus became part of the European Union on 1 May 2004, the northern third of the island was outside of the effective control of its government, a United Nations buffer zone of varying width separated the two parts, and a further 3% of the island was taken up by UK sovereign bases (under British sovereignty since the Treaty of Establishment in 1960). Two protocols to the Treaty of Accession 2003 – numbers 3 and 10, known as the "Sovereign Base Areas Protocol" and the "Cyprus Protocol" respectively – reflect this complex situation.
EU law only applies fully to the part of the island that is effectively controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus. EU law is suspended in the northern third of the island (the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, whose independence is recognised only by Turkey) by article 1(1) of the Cyprus Protocol. 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 organised in northern Cyprus.
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. 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. However, 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 therefore European citizens.
The United Nations buffer zone between north and south Cyprus ranges in width from a few metres in central Nicosia to several kilometres in the countryside. While it is nominally under the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, it is effectively administered by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The population of the zone is 8686 (as of October 2007), and one of the mandates of UNFICYP is "to encourage the fullest possible resumption of normal civilian activity in the buffer zone". Article 2.1 of the Cyprus Protocol allows the European Council to determine to what extent the provisions of EU law apply in the buffer zone.
The Faroe Islands are not part of the EU, and Danish nationals residing in the Faroe Islands, and who hold a Faroese-Danish passport (modeled on the pre-EU green Danish passports) are not to be considered as nationals of a Member State within the meaning of the treaties or, consequently, citizens of the European Union. Danish nationals residing in the Faroe Islands, and who hold a regular Danish passport are considered Danish nationals, and thus nationals of a Member State. One of the curious upshots of this is that the citizens can choose which passport they prefer, and thus switch between being EU or non-EU nationals.
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula and overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar, sharing a border with Spain to the north. 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 exempted from the Common Agricultural Policy. As a separate jurisdiction to the UK the Gibraltar Parliament transposes EU directives into local law.
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 all, at the time, British citizens but many were 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. The inclusion resulted from 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 formed part of the South West England constituency of the United Kingdom. The inclusion was unsuccessfully challenged by Spain.
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.
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, guaranteed by article 105 of the Greek Constitution. It is part of the customs union but outside the VAT area. Notwithstanding that a special permit is required to enter the peninsula and a prohibition on the admittance of women, it is part of the Schengen Area. A declaration attached to Greece's accession treaty to Schengen Agreements states that Mount Athos's "special status" should be taken into account in the application of the Schengen rules.
Finland leases the Russian part of the Saimaa Canal and the island of Malyj Vysotskij from Russia. The area is not part of the EU; it is a special part of 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.
Many currently independent states or parts of such were previously territories of the following EU members:
Most of them left their former mother country before the implementation of the Maastricht treaty in 1993 and the following years, meaning that cooperations like the EU citizenship, the VAT union or the Eurozone did not exist, so it made less difference to be a special terrritory then.
Additionally in Europe there were such special territories in the past that had different status than their "mainland", because of various reasons (see also Saar and West Berlin above). Some of these territories were as follows:
This table summarises the various components of EU laws applied in the EU Member States and their sovereign territories. Member States that do not have special-status territories are not included (as there the EU law applies fully with the exception of the Opt-outs in the European Union). Some territories of EFTA Member States also have a special status in regard to EU laws applied as is the case with some European microstates.
|Member States and
|Enforceable in local courts?
||EU VAT area?
||EU single market?
|Cyprus, except:||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Set to implement later||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|UN Buffer Zone||?||?||?||Yes||
|Denmark, except:||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No, ERM II with DKK|
|Greenland||Minimal (OCT)||Yes||No||Yes||No||Partial||No||No||Partial||No, DKK|
|Faroe Islands||No||No||No||Partial||No||Partial||No||No||Minimal (FTA)||No, DKK|
|Åland Islands||With exemptions||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||With exemptions||Yes|
|France (Metropolitan), except:||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Réunion||With exemptions (OMR)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|French Guiana||With exemptions (OMR)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Martinique||With exemptions (OMR)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Guadeloupe||With exemptions (OMR)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Saint Barthélemy||With exemptions (OMR)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Saint Martin||With exemptions (OMR)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon||Minimal (OCT)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Partial||Yes|
|Wallis and Futuna||Minimal (OCT)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Partial||No, XPF is pegged to Euro|
|French Polynesia||Minimal (OCT)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Partial||No, XPF is pegged to Euro|
|New Caledonia||Minimal (OCT)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Partial||No, XPF is pegged to Euro|
|French Southern and Antarctic Lands||Minimal (OCT)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||Yes|
|Büsingen am Hochrhein||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Campione d'Italia||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No, CHF|
|Aruba||Minimal (OCT)||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Partial||No, AWG|
|Netherlands Antilles||Minimal (OCT)||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Partial||No, ANG|
|Azores||With exemptions (OMR)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Madeira||With exemptions (OMR)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Canary Islands||With exemptions (OMR)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
other than Ceuta and Melilla
|United Kingdom, except:||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Police and judicial cooperation only||Yes||Yes||Yes||No, GBP|
|Gibraltar||With exemptions||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Police and judicial cooperation only||No||No||With exemptions||No, GIP|
|Akrotiri and Dhekelia||With exemptions||Yes||No||No||No||Set to implement later||Yes||Yes||With exemptions
|Saint Helena together with dependencies Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha||Minimal (OCT)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, SHP|
|Pitcairn Islands||Minimal (OCT)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, NZD|
|Falkland Islands||Minimal (OCT)||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, FKP|
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands||Minimal (OCT)||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, GBP|
|British Antarctic Territory||Minimal (OCT)||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, GBP|
|British Indian Ocean Territory||Minimal (OCT)||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, GBP, USD|
|Anguilla||Minimal (OCT)||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, XCD|
|Montserrat||Minimal (OCT)||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, XCD|
|British Virgin Islands||Minimal (OCT)||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, USD|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||Minimal (OCT)||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, USD|
|Cayman Islands||Minimal (OCT)||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Partial||No, KYD|
|Isle of Man||Minimal||Yes||Minimal||Partial||No||No||Yes||Yes||Minimal (FTA)||No, GBP|
|Guernsey together with dependencies Alderney, Herm and Sark||Minimal||Yes||Minimal||Partial||No||No||No||Yes||Minimal (FTA)||No, GBP|
|Jersey||Minimal||Yes||Minimal||Partial||No||No||No||Yes||Minimal (FTA)||No, GBP|
|Member States and
|Enforceable in local courts?||EURATOM?||EU citizenship?||EU elections?||Schengen area?||EU VAT area?
||EU single market?||Eurozone?|