Overseas country (French: Pays d'outre-mer) is the designation for the overseas collectivity of French Polynesia. French Polynesia was formerly an overseas territory until the constitutional reform on 28 March 2003 created the overseas collectivities. Then, on 27 February 2004 a law was passed giving French Polynesia the particular designation of overseas country while recalling that it belongs to the category of overseas collectivities. However, the Constitutional Council of France ruled that this description was merely a designation and not a legal status, as that would have been unconstitutional.
The territory's new status meant a certain autonomy for French Polynesia in the Pacific region. This translated into the transfer of new areas of legal responsibility (civil law, commercial law, labour law) while protecting existing autonomy in the fields of health, development and town planning and the environment. In addition, French Polynesia gained the power to oppose the application of laws voted by the French Parliament which do not respect these areas of responsibility. Furthermore, it established French Polynesian citizenship based on permanent residency - a requirement for the right to vote in regional elections. However, France maintains control over justice, security and public order, currency, defence, and foreign policy.
New Caledonia, which has the unique status of a sui generis collectivity, is also sometimes incorrectly referred to as an overseas country. However, if the people of New Caledonia choose to remain part of France in a referendum on independence scheduled for November 2018, the community may become an overseas country.
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