In 1953, Greenland, which had previously been a Danish colony, was integrated into the Kingdom of Denmark. In the 1970s, the local population began calling for the island’s status to be reviewed and for it to be given greater political and economic independence. This led to the adoption of the Home Rule Act by the Danish Parliament on 29 November 1978. The new status was approved by a local referendum on 17 January 1979 and entered into force on 1 May 1979.
On 19 May 1982, the Danish Government forwards a memorandum to the General Affairs Council in which it asks that a procedure for the revision of the Community treaties be initiated to exclude Greenland from the Communities and add it to the list of countries governed by the regime for overseas countries and territories.
On 2 February 1983, the Commission delivers its opinion on the request for a revision of the treaties so as to exclude Greenland from the territorial scope of application of the Community treaties. The Commission gives its approval to the establishment of relations between Greenland and the Community based on those that apply to the overseas countries and territories (OCTs). It proposes that Greenland be added to the list of OCTs and that a protocol be annexed to the treaty to set out the specific terms associated with the particular characteristics of this territory.
In its advisory opinion of 3 March 1983 on the procedure for a revision of the treaties, the European Parliament’s Political Affairs Committee expresses its concern at the possibility of allowing a constituent element of a Member State to withdraw from the Community. It sees this as a dangerous precedent that may weaken Member States’ commitment to further integration. Although the parliamentary committee does not oppose granting Greenland ‘overseas country and territory’ status, it invites the Council to conduct a detailed analysis of the consequences of this withdrawal process.
In its report dated 6 May 1983 on the request for Greenland’s withdrawal from the Community, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee gives its assent to this development and the subsequent revision of the Community treaties. While it approves the granting of ‘overseas country and territory’ status to this territory, the committee regrets its desire to withdraw from the Community. It recommends that the rights and obligations of the Community and Greenland should be set out in an additional agreement.
Dans le 18e rapport d’activité annuel des Communautés européennes, la Commission rend compte des principales caractéristiques de l’accord du 12 mars 1984 intervenu entre les Communautés et le Groenland concernant leurs droits et obligations respectifs.