OVERSEAS COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES
COM (00) 732
Draft Council Decision extending Decision 91/482/EEC on
the Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories
with the European Community.
Draft Council Decision on the Association of the Overseas
Countries and Territories with the European Community
||Article 187 EC; consultation, unanimity
(b) 15 November 2000
|Forwarded to the Council:
||21 November 2000|
|Deposited in Parliament:
||17 January 2001|
||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration:
||EMs of 22 and 27 February 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
|To be discussed in Council:
||No date set|
||(Both) Cleared; but request to be kept informed
27.1 The Overseas Countries and Territories
(OCT) Decision sets out the framework for the EC's co-operation
over seven years with the OCTs. 24 OCTs are listed, at Annex IA.
They include eleven of the UK's Overseas Territories: Anguilla,
the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the
Sandwich Islands, Monserrat, Pitcairn, St Helena and Dependencies,
British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Turks
and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
27.2 The previous OCT Decision
applied from July 1991. It was amended in 1997
and rolled over for a year in February 2000.
27.3 The current Decision expires on 28
February 2001. The new Decision is still under discussion, so
the Commission has proposed a further extension of the existing
arrangements to 1 December 2001. This is necessary to provide
a legal base for continued development support and trading preferences
for the OCTs and it is supported by the Government.
27.4 The Commission started preparatory
work on a new Council Decision early in 1999, but it did not publish
this proposal for the new Decision until mid-November 2000.
27.5 The broad principles of the new Decision
were outlined in Declaration 36 on the overseas countries and
territories annexed to the Final Act of the Treaty of Amsterdam.
In this, the Conference noted that most OCTs lag far behind in
structural terms and the special arrangements for association
with the OCTs, which have changed little since 1957, "can
no longer deal effectively with the challenges of OCT development."
The Conference invited the Council to review the association arrangements
by February 2000 with the four-fold objective of:
economic and social development of the OCTs more effectively;
developing economic relations between
the OCTs and the European Union;
taking greater account of the diversity
and specific characteristics of the individual OCTs, including
aspects relating to freedom of establishment; and
ensuring that the effectiveness of the
financial instrument is improved.
27.6 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 27
February, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (Mr Keith Vaz) summarises the provisions of the draft Decision:
the new Decision offers five types of resources: an allocation
from the 9th EDF;
an investment facility; additional support in the event of unexpected
events (e.g. natural disasters) or to reward efficient use of
earlier allocations; European Investment Bank loans; and eligibility
for other general budget lines open to developing countries. The
process of disbursing development funds has been streamlined
along ERDF lines:
the Commission will support, but will no longer directly manage
projects. Allocations for each OCT are calculated using ERDF-inspired,
poverty-focused criteria, with funds concentrated on the least
"In terms of rights of the individual, certain
Community programmes which are open to nationals of Member States
are now also open to inhabitants of OCTs. The principle of non-reciprocity
of rights of establishment is maintained: nationals of Member
States will not have the right to move to an OCT, whatever the
rights of the inhabitants of that particular OCT. Consultation
procedures, based on the principle of trilateral partnership between
the Commission, the Member State and the OCTs, are also strengthened".
27.7 Allocation between the OCTs of Community
financial assistance from the 9th EDF is to be made according
to criteria laid down in Article 3 of Annex IIA to the Decision.
The least developed are defined as those with a per capita Gross
National Product (GNP) not exceeding 75% of the Community per
capita sum. These are listed at Annex IB. They do not include
any of the Dutch OCTs, though these benefit under other criteria.
27.8 Under Article 3.5, the allocation to
Greenland is to be examined in the light of the review provided
for in Article 14 of the Protocol on the fishing conditions for
the period 2001-2006.
27.9 We understand that the Dutch have some
difficulties with the current text. A reserve of 35 million euros
is provided for non-allocated EDF funds. The Dutch may secure
part of this reserve for their OCTs. Annex III sets out definitions
for rules of origin. We understand that the Dutch OCTs will no
longer be permitted, if this draft is agreed, to claim that the
process of turning sugar into lumps fulfils the processing criteria.
The Government's view
27.10 The Minister says that the proposal
represents an improved deal for UK OCTs. Negotiations continue,
with the aim of the draft Decision being put to the Council in
27.11 This is an important legislative
proposal for the Overseas Countries and Territories affected,
which do not include some of the more developed, such as Bermuda.
We note that the Government believes that the proposal as it stands
represents a good outcome for the United Kingdom Overseas Countries
and Territories, and we now clear the document. However, we ask
the Minister to inform us before the proposal is put to the Council
if, in the meantime, it is amended to the detriment of the interests
of the United Kingdom Overseas Countries and Territories.
62 Council Decision 91/482/EEC. Back
Decision 2000/169/EC. Back
Decision 2000/160/EC; see (20986) 6337/00; HC 23-x (1999-2000),
paragraph 11 (1 March 2000). Back
Development Fund. Back
Regional Development Fund. Back