Decision 2013/755 - Association of the overseas countries and territories with the EU ( ‘Overseas Association Decision’ )


Summary of Legislation

Association of the overseas countries and territories with the EU

The overseas association decision was adopted in November 2013 and entered into force on 1 January 2014. It relates to the European Union’s relations with overseas countries and territories that are linked to EU countries.


Council Decision 2013/755/EU of 25 November 2013 on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Union (‘Overseas Association Decision’)


Since its origin, the overseas countries and territories (OCTs) have had an association with the EU. The OCTs comprise 25 islands which are spread around the Atlantic, Antarctic, Arctic, Indian and Pacific Oceans and the Caribbean. They are not sovereign states but have constitutional links with four EU countries: Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (1).

The association of the OCTs with the EU is based on the constitutional relations with these four EU countries.

The 2013 overseas association decision (OAD) aims to modernise the relations of the EU with the OCTs and take into account changing global trade patterns, as well as concerns such as climate change and environmental protection. It seeks to go beyond development cooperation and work towards building a relationship based on mutual interests and shared values, and in pursuit of sustainable development.

The main objectives of the association are to:

establish closer economic relations, in particular by improving trade arrangements, such as easier access to the EU’s market;

help OCTs to strengthen their resilience and reduce their vulnerability (for example with regard to climate change and global trading patterns);

improve OCTs’ competitiveness, mirroring the EU’s own 2020 strategy to create a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy;

encourage OCTs' cooperation with other non-EU partner countries;

promote the EU’s values, standards and interests to the wider world by means of the OCTs.

While EU laws as such are not in force in the OCTs, the OAD lays down the detailed rules and procedures of the association.

Modernised trade regime

The new OAD marks the beginning of a new system of trade which aims to benefit the trading environment for the OCTs. The new regime ranks OCTs as most favoured trading partners, with better terms of trade in services and establishment, as well as duty- and quota-free access to the EU’s market for goods. EU market access conditions have also been revised under the decision paving the way for greater export opportunities for OCTs.

Financial support

Under the OAD, the EU provides financial support for the OCTs’ development strategies. Total EU funding for the OCTs for the 2014-20 period through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) amounts to €364.5 million.

Greenland receives money from the EU’s general budget on the basis of the partnership agreement between the EU, Denmark and Greenland (€217.8 million for the 2014-20 period). Greenland is also eligible for funding under the 11th EDF OCT regional thematic component.

The OCTs are also eligible to participate in and receive funding from programmes financed by the general budget of the EU (for example, research, education, innovation and competitiveness, culture and media, etc.).




Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2013/755/EU



OJ L 344, 19.12.2013, pp. 1-118


Council Decision 2014/137/EU of 14 March 2014 on relations between the European Union on the one hand, and Greenland and the Kingdom of Denmark on the other (Official Journal L 76, 15.3.2014, pp. 1-5)

last update 21.09.2015


  • (1) 
    The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.

This summary has been adopted from EUR-Lex.


Legislative text

Council Decision 2013/755/EU of 25 November 2013 on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Union ( ‘Overseas Association Decision’ )