The overseas authority (COM) are territories of the French Republic governed since the constitutional revision of 28 March 2003 by article 74 of the Constitution (namely the application of the principle of statutory exception devolved to local competent institution).
They group together former overseas territories as well as other territorial authorities with a special status. The administration of governing powers (defence, police, justice, treasury) is the role of the French government.
There are currently five overseas authorities. These territories have diverse statuses and internal organisations, specified for some by the organic law of 21 February 2007 :
- Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (Atlantic coast off of Canada) which was an overseas department from 1976 to 1985 ;
- Wallis and Futuna (Pacific Ocean), archipelago which is not subdivided into municipalities but into three territorial districts, each one corresponding to a kingdom under customary law, competent in certain domains (the management of a domain under customary law, etc.) ;
- French Polynesia (Pacific Ocean), a set of 5 French archipelagos corresponding to 5 administrative subdivisions (Marquesas Islands, Windward Islands, Tuamotu-Gambier Islands, Austral Islands and Leeward Islands). It benefits from wide-ranging political autonomy.
Have been COMs since the organic law of 2007:
- Saint-Barthélémy, the Lesser Antilles (Caribbean) and
- Saint-Martin, northern part of the island of the same name in the Lesser Antilles.
The creation of these two authorities has been effective since 15 July 2007.
Formely Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy were two municipalities which were part of the overseas department of Guadeloupe.
Mayotte (island in the Indian Ocean, separated from the Comoro Islands in 1976), which had borne the name "departmental authority of Mayotte" from 2001 till 2011. From April, 2011 it becomes an
Clipperton Island originally attached administratively to the territory of French Polynesia, by the decree of 12 June 1936 (Official journal of 16 June 1936) is under the direct authority of the Government; Minister of Overseas is responsible for administration under the terms of Law No. 55-1052 of 6 August 1955 modified (by Act No. 2007-224 of 21 February 2007).