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Is Canary Islands In The EU?

The short answer is yes. The Canary Islands are in the EU. The Canary Islands are part of Spain, which is a member of the European Union. Therefore, the Canary Islands are also integrated into the European Union, respecting its specificities. Finally, the Canary Islands is an Autonomous Community organized within the Spanish regional territorial system.   

The Canary Islands are part of the Outermost Regions of the EU, RUP, along with other European territories: Azores, Madeira, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, French Guiana, Mayotte and Reunion.

These regions are characterized by common disadvantages: they are geographically far from the European area and close to countries with a low level of development; they have a small and fragmented area in islands (except Guiana); an adverse natural environment in terms of relief and climate or the possibility of natural hazards, which limits the development of the primary and secondary sectors, and a strong economic dependence on a small group of products.

This situation causes market and production problems, aggravated by limited domestic consumption. Production, for these reasons, is more expensive and cannot reach the minimum dimensions to be efficient.


In the case of the Canary Islands, its specific disadvantages as RUP are the following: insularity, double insularity of five of its islands, great remoteness and isolation from Europe, scarcity of water and energy resources, rugged terrain that hinders internal communications, small surface area with a high population density and environmental fragility of a natural environment with great interest for its uniqueness but which supports great pressure.

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Community measures of the European Union

The European Union considers these problems as permanent, regardless of the income level of these spaces, and has adopted specific actions to solve them, such as special economic measures and the creation of a specific aid fund.

The special economic measures are included in the POSEICAN. They are based on two fundamental axes: provisions of fiscal and customs content and the adaptation of common agricultural and fisheries policies.

Provisions of fiscal and customs content

The Economic and Fiscal Regime of the Canary Islands (REF), existing before the Spanish incorporation to the EEC, had to be modified to adapt to the Community regulations on competition.

It has a series of specific instruments aimed at boosting the Canarian economy: the Reserve for Canary Investments (RIC); the Canary Islands Special Zone (ZEC); the creation of Free Zones (ZF) and other tax exemptions and aid.

The Canary Islands Investment Reserve (RIC) is a measure designed to encourage business investment in the Canary Islands, granting tax benefits to companies that invest and create jobs in the Islands.

The Canary Islands Special Zone (ZEC) aims to promote economic diversification and social development by imposing low taxation and other tax advantages on companies that settle in it.

The ZEC area, in force until 2019, covers the entire archipelago for service companies and certain specific areas for companies dedicated to the production, transformation, handling and marketing of merchandise.

Free Zones (FZs), such as those of Gran Canaria and Tenerife, allow companies established in them to enjoy specific customs and tax advantages. Among them, the introduction of merchandise from any source without paying tariffs and the possibility of storing them indefinitely, transforming them and distributing them without paying tariffs or indirect taxes.

Adaptation of common agricultural and fisheries policies

The Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union (CAP) is applied with peculiarities. Thus, the Canary Islands have a Specific Supply Regime (REA) aimed at alleviating the increase in costs caused by the distance in the supply of some essential products for human consumption or for transformation, exempting them from customs duties when they come from third countries. Among them are livestock and vegetable products (except bananas and tomatoes).

The Common Fisheries Policy is also applied with peculiarities to compensate for cost overruns originated by the ultraperipheral situation. The beneficiaries are the tuna and sardine sectors and the cephalopod producers established in the Islands.

The specific fund to offset the costs of the outermost situation in the Canary Islands has been set at 30 euros per inhabitant and year in the period 2014-2020.

The Canary Islands in European regional policy

The socioeconomic situation of the Canary Islands at the time of Spain’s entry into the European Economic Community in 1986 placed it in the group of least dynamic European regions. This fact allowed it to receive substantial Community funds, destined to achieve convergence with the most advanced European regions.

In part, thanks to these aid, and to its own economic growth, the GDP per capita of the Canary Islands has been approaching the community average. This fact allowed it, in the period 2007-2013, to leave the group of European regions most backward on its own merits, and not because of the statistical effect of enlargement, and to join the group of the Competitiveness and Employment Regions of temporary aid, where it will remain during the 2014-2020 period.

This situation will allow receiving money from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ERDF, ESF …) within the Association Agreement of Spain 2014-2020 that sets out in its chapter 5 the specificities of the Canary Islands as RUP in relation to the Thematic Objectives of this agreement, which mainly seek to improve the technological and research level, the environmental situation, transport infrastructures, social conditions and the level of training of its workers and its population in general.

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