The European Union includes nine Outermost Regions located far from the continent. Six of them are French (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, La Réunion, Martinique, Mayotte, and Saint Martin), two are Portuguese (the Azores and Madeira) and one is Spanish (the Canary Islands). Regardless of the distance, these regions are an integral part of the EU and have unique potential and assets that can help the Union.
They provide a European presence in strategic areas of the world, and have exceptional geographical and geological characteristics, which make them useful incubators for research and innovation in industries of the future, such as biodiversity, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, pharmacology, renewable energies, and the space sciences.
Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognises the specific constraints of the Outermost Regions and outlines measures to help them. The European Commission asked the Advisory Hub to do a feasibility study on deploying more finance from the European Fund for Strategic Investments to assist the Outermost Regions.
For the study, the Hub conducted desk research and interviewed local stakeholders on how the Managing Authorities have used financial instruments. This included Managing Authorities, financial intermediaries, chambers of commerce, local associations and National Promotional Banks and Institutions (NPBIs) working in the nine regions. The aim was to find out how to strengthen existing financing instruments and develop new instruments based on the unique needs of the regions.
The study outlined many requirements that were common to the nine regions. In response to these needs, the study proposed a number of solutions on three levels: the European Union or pan-regional level; the national level, preferably via the NPBIs; and the regional or multi-regional level. Some of these proposals can be implemented now, while others could provide a focus for the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework of 2021-2027. The feasibility study was presented to the European Commission and to the authorities of the Outermost Regions in 2018 and 2019. The study, in French, Spanish and Portuguese, may help regions assess how the financing guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments can support their projects and how they can leverage existing initiatives at the national and EU levels.