I am in Guadeloupe this week, attending the 20th Conference of Presidents of the EU’s Outermost Regions. I am here as Commissioner for Regional Policy but also as Coordinator of all EU policies for these regions. This is for me the very first time I am meeting representatives from the 9 outermost regions. The visit is a great opportunity to introduce myself and to exchange with them on challenges and on-going work in their regions.
The outermost regions (Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion, Saint-Martin, Açores, Madeira and Canarias) have a very particular potential due to their specific geographical location. They are remote from continental Europe. Many of them are islands. Some are archipelagos like Guadeloupe. But they are, among others, the entry gate of the European Union to a number of strategic places in the World: the Caribe, the Indian Ocean, the North-Eastern Atlantic.
By virtue of their geography, these regions encounter a range of specific difficulties. This requires the Commission to give them the particular attention they deserve.
Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union acknowledges the geographical and economic constraints faced by the outermost regions. This means, the commission is helping those regions to modernise their economies and overcome the obstacles they are confronted with.
Regional policy in particular provides the outermost regions with the right instruments to transform their assets into real growth opportunities. It focuses on areas where EU support can make a real difference and have the greatest impact.
European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund have supported in the past years a wide range of projects to boost the economies in the outermost regions. This support will continue in the new programming period. In Guadeloupe alone, to give you just an example, our funds will exceed an allocation of 1,000 euros per inhabitant.
I look forward to the exchanges with the Presidents of these regions and to getting an "on-the-ground" knowledge of Guadeloupe's challenges and opportunities.