Dependencies, autonomous territories and the EU


UK Crown Dependencies (e.g.: Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man), Overseas Territories (e.g.: The Falkland Islands) as well as Danish autonomous territories (Greenland and the Faroe Islands) are not part of the European Union, despite having very close links to their "home" countries. On the other hand, French Guiana is part of the European Union.

Why is this the case?


Posted 2020-01-02T06:38:36.160

Reputation: 1 199

2I edited your question to replace "French Guinea" with "French Guiana": the first is indeed a former French colony but is now an independent country (not in the EU), whereas the second is still a French territory and as such part of the EU. – Erwan – 2020-01-02T11:04:24.680



Each is a special case.

At the time the "motherlands" joined the EC, the number of EC members could be counted by the fingers on two hands. Each had specific constitutional relations with their dependencies.

  • Greenland used to be an EU member but decided to weaken constitutional ties to Denmark and to leave the EU. The reason seems to have been control of fisheries.
  • Various British crown dependencies have "not being EU" as the core of their business model (tax avoidance and intransparency). So joining the EU would have been a bad move for them.
  • There is a German village, Büsingen, surrounded entirely by Swiss territory. For them the most practical solution is to be part of the Swiss customs and VAT area.


Posted 2020-01-02T06:38:36.160

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Avoidance rather than dodging is slightly less pejorative. And I don't imagine anyone puts "money laundering" on their lists of service industries. So you'd probably need to supply some evidence for including it. – Jontia – 2020-01-02T09:21:58.293

5@Jontia, I replaced "money laundering" by "intransparency." I don't want to put it any weaker than that. – o.m. – 2020-01-02T10:14:21.940


It simply depends on the status of the territory: if it's part of a country which belongs to the EU then by definition it is part of the EU.

Formally British Overseas Territories are not considered part of the UK:

The British Overseas Territories (BOTs) or United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs) are fourteen territories under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not been granted independence or have voted to remain British territories. These territories do not form part of the United Kingdom and, with the exception of Gibraltar, are not part of the European Union.

Whereas French Overseas department are full-fledged parts of France:

The overseas departments and regions of France (French: département et régions d’outre-mer or DROM) are departments of France which are outside metropolitan France, the European part of France. They have nearly the same political status as metropolitan departments, although special constitutional provisions allow them greater autonomy and they are excluded from certain domestic statistics, such as the unemployment rate.

As integral parts of France and the European Union, overseas departments are represented in the National Assembly, Senate, and Economic and Social Council, vote to elect members of the European Parliament (MEP), and also use the euro as their currency.

There are only 5 French Overseas departments: French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and La Réunion. These should not be confused with French overseas collectivities, which have a semi-autonomous status and as such are not part of the EU (with the exception of Saint Martin, otherwise it would be too simple!).


Posted 2020-01-02T06:38:36.160

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