The Greenland Treaty of 1985

Greenland became a member of the Community in 1973 when Denmark joined. There had been a referendum in Greenland in 1972 turning down membership to the European Community, but because Greenland at that time did not have Home Rule, joining the Community was obligatory.

One of the first political tasks for the Greenland Home Rule Government was to withdraw from the European Community due to a wish of having full sovereignty over Greenlandic fishing territory but also due to an overall wish of minimizing the direct influence from outside of Greenland.

A referendum was held in 1982 and a majority voted in favour of withdrawal. Between 1982 and 1984 the terms were negotiated and on February 1 1985, Greenland formally withdrew from the European Community. A Treaty on Greenland’s withdrawal from the Community was made – the Greenland Treaty – declaring Greenland as a “special case”.

This "special case" provided a fisheries agreement between the parties in which the European Community and later the European Union (EU) kept its fishing rights and Greenland kept its financial contribution as before the withdrawal. It also gave Greenland tariff free access of fisheries products to the EU as long as there exists a satisfactory fisheries agreement. Greenland was furthermore associated with the EU through its placement in the Overseas Country and Territories Association Decision.